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Secret Service walks back statement that no chemical agents were used on protesters at Lafayette Square

The Secret Service is walking back a statement it made last week claiming its agents did not use tear gas or pepper spray on protesters to “secure the area” near Lafayette Square last Monday. 

That day, tear gas and rubber bullets were used to disperse peaceful protesters about 30 minutes before a curfew was set to take effect in Washington, D.C. Minutes later, President TrumpDonald John TrumpFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' MORE walked over to St. John's Episcopal Church and posed for photos with a Bible.

Both the Secret Service and U.S. Park Police (USPP) initially denied claims of using force on protesters, despite several in-person accounts and footage. 

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In an amended statement released Saturday afternoon, the Secret Service said after further review, it determined that “an agency employee used pepper spray on June 1st during efforts to secure the area near Lafayette Park.”

They said the officer used pepper spray in response to an “assaultive individual.”

Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee have launched a probe asking why chemical agents were used to clear those peacefully protesting the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. 

Park Police spokesman last Friday said it was a "mistake" to say no tear gas was used on protesters.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told lawmakers last Friday that USPP officers faced “a state of siege” leading up to the clearing of protesters near the White House earlier in the week, saying violence during the demonstrations was “indisputable.”