In a move reminiscent of the authoritarian dictators he adores, President Trump yesterday had protesters forcibly cleared from the streets in front of St John's Episcopal Church in Washington so he could pose for a photo-op holding a Bible:
Moments before President Donald Trump vowed to use military might to stop rioting, police backed by the National Guard stormed into a peaceful protest outside the White House and scattered a large group of people protesting unprovoked police violence against African Americans.
At the time, none of the protesters or nearby journalists knew the reason for clearing the street. But the purpose became clear as soon as Trump finished his speech in the Rose Garden.
Trump left the podium and walked through Lafayette Square with staff in tow, crossed H Street NW, where the protesters had been assembled, and came to a stop at St. John's Episcopal Church, a congregation known as the Church of the Presidents, which was damaged by fire during an uprising Sunday.
Outside the church, Trump posed for photos with a Bible. And then he walked back.
It was a show of force for demonstration purposes, and it injected danger into what had been a calm protest as those in the street fled mounted police to avoid being trampled, struck by projectiles or gassed. It also came as a surprise to the protesters, who were flanked by police after National Guard and federal agents acted as decoys by advancing from the front in full riot gear.
The Episcopal Bishop of Washington was incensed:
“I am outraged,” [Bishop Marianne] Budde said in a telephone interview a short time later, pausing between words to emphasize her anger as her voice slightly trembled.
“I ... was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop,” Budde said.
“Everything he has said and done is to inflame violence,” Budde [said] of the president. “We need moral leadership, and he’s done everything to divide us.”
In a written statement, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, head of the Episcopal denomination, accused Trump of using “a church building and the Holy Bible for partisan political purposes.”
“This was done in a time of deep hurt and pain in our country, and his action did nothing to help us or to heal us,” Curry wrote.
Even Republicans disapproved:
“We long ago lost sight of normal, but this was a singularly immoral act,” said Brendan Buck, a longtime former Hill aide who is now a Republican operative. “The president used force against American citizens, not to protect property, but to soothe his own insecurities. We will all move on to the next outrage, but this was a true abuse of power and should not be forgotten.”
“It was just to win the news cycle,” one Trump adviser said. “I’m not sure that things are any better for us tomorrow.”
But Trump’s campaign team viewed the visit as a success. By late Monday, campaign officials were already tweeting a black-and-white photo of him walking to the church with a coterie of aides in his wake. Tim Murtaugh, the campaign’s top spokesman, posted the picture without a caption.
As the president drives his poll own numbers down to bedrock with this crap, he will become more deranged and violent. He thrives on chaos, and doesn't care who gets hurt as long as he "wins." It's going to be a very long 22 weeks until election day.