House Democrat demands answers from Secret Service about role breaking up White House protests

House Democrat demands answers from Secret Service about role breaking up White House protests
© Aaron Schwartz

The chairman of a House Oversight subcommittee on Tuesday demanded that the Secret Service provide an explanation of its role in using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters outside the White House to clear the way for President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' MORE to hold a photo op outside a damaged church. 

In a letter to Secret Service Director James Murray, Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyBlack Caucus rallies behind Meeks for Foreign Affairs gavel Ousted watchdog says he told top State aides about Pompeo probe House committee chair requests immediate briefing on Secret Service's involvement in clearing protesters MORE (D-Va.) asked for all documents and communications regarding Trump's visit to St. John's Episcopal Church on Monday evening and the Secret Service's policies on responding to peaceful protesters.

"While the Secret Service is tasked with protecting the president of the United States, it is not a tool of fascism, and the conduct and operations of the Secret Service cannot be allowed to infringe upon the Constitutional rights of the American people for the purposes of serving the president’s personal vanity," Connolly, who chairs the House Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, wrote. 

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"It is my hope that the men and women of the Secret Service remain safe and are never put in the untenable position of needlessly targeting their fellow citizens with violence," Connolly continued.

Connolly asked that the Secret Service provide the requested documents by June 15.

U.S. Park Police and National Guard troops pushed peaceful demonstrators with tear gas and rubber bullets out of Lafayette Square in front of the White House on Monday evening, about 15 minutes before a citywide curfew was set to go into effect.

Trump at that time was addressing the nation from the Rose Garden. He pledged to mobilize “all available federal resources, civilian and military” to clamp down on nationwide protests over police brutality toward African Americans. 

Trump then walked across the street to St. John's Church, where vandals had set a fire in the basement the night before, and briefly held up a Bible before the cameras. He then returned to the White House with top aides and administration officials in tow. 

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Trump earlier Monday had told governors on a conference call that they need to “dominate” the streets with National Guard troops to control the protests.  

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBattle over reopening schools heats up Pelosi: Trump wearing a mask is 'an admission' that it can stop spread of coronavirus Sunday shows - Spotlight shifts to reopening schools MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' A renewed emphasis on research and development funding is needed from the government Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs MORE (D-N.Y.) issued a joint statement late Monday night condemning Trump's actions.

"Tear-gassing peaceful protestors without provocation just so that the president could pose for photos outside a church dishonors every value that faith teaches us," Pelosi and Schumer said. "The president’s continued fanning of the flames of discord, bigotry and violence is cowardly, weak and dangerous."