Inspector General report sheds new light on Trump bible photo op

A report from the Department of the Interior finds U.S. Park Police didn’t violate laws or policies when they cleared the crowd of protesters in Lafayette Park.
11:58 | 06/09/21

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Transcript for Inspector General report sheds new light on Trump bible photo op
President Biden is scheduled to give remarks to airforce service members stationed in the UK in just a few minutes we will bring that to you live when it happens. Meanwhile the inspector general the Indian Interior Department is releasing new details and to the DC park police response to black lives matter protests last June. Video showed officers striking journalists with a baton and shield as they forcibly cleared Lafayette square minutes before the city's curfew. Soon after the president and administration officials walked across that square where he posed for pictures with the Bible. Today the inspector general's report finds that park police. Did not violate any laws or policies when they created that crowd and joining us now to discuss that report inspector general herself Mark Green black inspector general and that thank you for being here today we appreciate your time. So tell them about what questions you're trying to answer with this report and what were some of your big findings. Well thank you for having me on Diane would be the big question for this report. Was that this was obviously a particularly tumultuous and that you gave vent in a tumultuous time. And do what we sought out to determine is wide that US park police decided to clear the park on June 1. And was that influenced time by a potential presidential visit to the park or to saint John's church which is nearby. The the upshot of or review is that we found evidence that the park police decided that it clear the park. To install an anti scale fencing in order birth took protect law enforcement officers as well as the park itself and and federal and private property. On the flip side we did not find evidence that a potential presidential visit to the park or the saint John's church. Influence to the park police's decision making were there deployment IDO in their operation to clear out the parks so that's the big. The big finding a bar reporters there is the is deep clear evidence of why they decided to do so and win. They made the decision and don't the flip side the lack of evidence of related to the president's side into a potential visit influencing that decision. Now I know you didn't question not attorney general Barr. When the White House or or Secret Service for the report. Given that you're talking about the this. White House trip in this presidential photo why not question those individuals. So our jurisdiction as as an inspector general or jurisdiction is limited to our department in my case it's the Department of the Interior. So what we are worse you what our statutory mandate is to look at or components in this case it was the United States park police. And and the law enforcement partners that fell under its umbrella. And so that's what we focused on. And wee bit that we want to have pursued evidence had it gone elsewhere. Bite we found that the US park police officials on the ground they own to the decision and the corroborating evidence. Is supported that. And so we did not feel the need to engage with some of the other parties that you mention to but we didn't pursue evidence. To the extent that it would shine a light only be on the park police officials. Decision making we didn't pursue that evidence. And and we would do so again if we found to if we found such evidence leading elsewhere so what. By you know did that the key issues that did the park police folks. Mean you know made the call they owned that there are decision and and the core operating evidence that we found by you know supported that. And former president trump was quick release a statement praising this report saying quote thank you to the Department of the Interior inspector general for completely. And totally exonerating me in the clearing of Lafayette park. He also said our climb park police made the decision to create a part to allow contractor to safely install anti scale fencing to protect from anti the rioters. Radical mobile I'm protesters and other violent demonstrators. Do you agree with his character issue the characterization here and do you think this report. Totally exonerates the former president in this is an instant. Well how that's I'm going to be honest that's an uncomfortable position for us you know for me as an inspector general. We all our eyes statutorily mandated to be apolitical non partisan eyes so I don't want to engage on on that tight both of colloquy. You know folks are going to characterize our reports in various ways. And I think it's prudent for me not to engage our frankly because Zion I don't think that leads to good results we want to maintain or they are a political. Nonpartisan posture in and so what you know. If you don't mind it may take a pass on that question. S shore but can you explain more about why the park was cleared at that exact moment and cleared so quickly. Short side that's that's a great question Diane and and they can that the reason why is as far as the evidence that we can tell the testimony in the corroborating evidence. Is that the decision was made to install the fence early in the day in fact probably the day before. And what they were waiting for they were waiting for on the one hand. That fencing materials and the contracting personnel to install defense. And on the other hand sufficient law enforcement personnel two to clear the park and secure the border for those contractors to do their work. That took effectively over the course of the day for those two elements to two to combine an end to be right. For example we found it had around 5 o'clock 530. Is when they had the fencing contractor personnel all of the fencing material. And all of the sufficient law enforcement personnel on hand ready to go. At 530 that's the key time that's when they start deploying backs when they start they have their final operational briefing they start developing the dispersal warnings for the crowd. And they start moving personnel into position in at 532. It took early 6 o'clock range the the facts the key time and then once all of that was in place then they started their clearing operation. So that I. I hoping answers your question I Diane about why. Why it was that particular timing. And as some members of congress have already come out criticizing this report so wanna give your chance to respond to some of what they're saying they say among other shortcomings. The report fails to explain why federal law enforcement agents used tear gas and weapons against peaceful protesters. Why federal law enforcement officials chose not to wait to clear the area and instead cleared it. When crowds were at their peak. And why a Bureau of Prisons riot control team was sent to attack protesters despite the fact that they pose no violent threat those are exact quotes. From those congress members what's your response about. Well this is a thorough our review are looking at a wide variety of different facets are with respect to disk clearing operation their number of problems with those quotes I will I will say. First of all with respect to the Bureau of Prisons we did find problems with the Bureau of Prisons side died operations in that on that date and we referred those matters to the Department of Justice inspector general who oversees the Bureau of Prisons so I don't you know quite to the contrary we did have problems there and we have referred it onto the appropriate personnel. With respect to arise that did tear gas the reference to tear gas. We found that federal personnel the US park police and its personnel died in these and its partner I'd law enforcement entities. Did not use what we call CS gas. That the metropolitan police department the DC police used tear gad to use the CS gas. On seventeenth street but we did not find evidence that. CS gas in fact of the canisters that were found. On site that day. Who DTVs. Don't park police didn't even have the appropriate kinda launch her two to launch that type of canister. And when you look at the inventory lists of bearer of what equipment they had with them. They did not even have any of those materials associated what was found. All of that in contrast was comports with the metropolitan police using did Padilla a dead this CS gas. So there are a couple of good core factual problems with some of those quotes. And I think that's a little bit unfortunate and I'm happy to engage with those folks on the hill they are primary stakeholders for us. And Doug make sure that we correct the record with them because so we don't want these misperceptions. Out there about what we found dog or hour or hour review. Hannah Anderson the report did find pork communication between agencies and ineffective dispersal warnings school may have contributed to confusion. And the use of tactics that appeared inconsistent with initial plan so can you explain a little bit more what you mean by that. Absolutely deep deep dip dole whole premise of this operation is that it was a joint command between the Secret Service on the one hand. And the park police on the other one of the key problems that we found. Was that. Is so that we think contributed to the miscommunication. Some of the miscommunication had a real impact for example. The park police the operational plan that. And that it would make the clearing operation easier the problem is before the arrive first. Dispersal warning was issued. We understand that the Secret Service got contingent on the east side the park. Actually started their divide clearing operations before the first the warning was issued. Well that's clearly a communication problem men and guys something that would that would appear to go in direct contravention of the operational plan that everyone had agreed to. The other issue that we found was after the second warning was provided. Eight park police contingent with the Arlington side county police. They also left early and started by clearing operations before the third warning was issued. So we have a number of instances where there is that a clear communication problem. On monks to be a law enforcement personnel and that was something that we we not only made the finding we make a recommendation for them to fix for the next time so that we don't have these types of. Of problems arise. And there are also a number of lawsuits now pending stemming from this incident the ACLU was representing black flies mattered do you see there also if you individual protesters doing. And in generally argue that the use of tear gas rubber bullets grenades that violated. The rights of peaceful protesters do you think the findings of this report or weaken that argument in anyway. I don't think it touches on those issues I do we we looked at whether her do what the decision by you know when the decision was made why the decision was made. And and looked at the coordination in terms of the operation we didn't get into do you law enforcement tactics that the park police or its partners used to clear the park. Which I think would touch on some of the issues Diane that your raising and that the lawsuits are raising. I I don't know that there's a lot of overlap between those those type things what we did opine on that may touch on it is I think we provided. Additional information with respect to the operational plan how that was formulated. And and the briefing that went out to all the war law enforcement officers about the operational plan so those elements may touch on it but we. We do not want to be in it does a.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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