A Justice Department official says that Attorney General Bill Barr ordered law enforcement on the ground to push back protesters at Lafayette Square before Trump’s remarks Monday night.
According to two federal law enforcement officials, the decision had been made late Sunday or early Monday to extend the perimeter around Lafayette Square by one block. The plan was to be executed, according to the Justice Department official, the following afternoon. Barr was a part of the decision-making process, the official said.
Barr surveyed the scene in the afternoon and saw that the perimeter had not been pushed back. He then said it needed to be done.
Police soon moved on the peaceful protesters with riot shields and horses.
The Justice Department official said Barr “assumed that any resistance from the protesters of being moved would be met with typical crowd-control measures.” The official said Barr had been told on the scene that there were reports of the crowd passing rocks among themselves and that a bottle had been thrown in his direction — though The Washington Post did not observe that.
The official defended Barr’s decision. “This plan was happening, regardless of any plans of the president,” the official said.
See this at the Washington Post.