In defiance of widespread criticism by the media, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Monday that no one at the White House has any regrets about the clearing of protesters from Lafayette Square last week, The Hill reports.
“There’s no regrets on the part of this White House,” McEnany said, noting that many of the decisions related to the incident were not made by the White House.
The incident being referred to by McEnany and the reporter who asked the question was the clearing of Lafayette Square before President Donald Trump walked to St. John’s Church, the famous church that has been visited by every president since James Madison and which was set on fire during unruly protests on May 31.
Critics complained bitterly about both the removal of protesters and the manner in which the park was cleared. They also took issue with what happened thereafter, namely, the president being photographed holding a Bible in front of St. John’s.
Even some Republicans, including former members of the Trump administration, joined in the condemnation.
But, amid all the outrage, the White House has not backed down, and now McEnany has clarified that there are no regrets.
At the press conference, McEnany went on to explain just why there are no regrets at the White House, starting with the fact that the White House didn’t actually order the clearing.
“I’d note that many of those decisions were not made here within the White House. It was [Attorney General William] Barr who made the decision to move the perimeter,” she said, adding that “Park Police had also made that decision independently when they saw all the violence in Lafayette Square.”
As for the way in which the park was cleared, McEnany said that law enforcement “acted as they felt they needed to at that time, and we stand by those actions.” She also said that, furthermore, Park Police gave three loud warnings before they did anything.
No backing down
Barr defended the actions of law enforcement in an interview on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday, stating that the people cleared “were not peaceful protesters.”
The attorney general, however, has also stated that he didn’t give the order to clear the area, but rather that police were already taking action by the time he got there.
President Trump, for his part, said last Wednesday that he thought the situation was “handled very well.”