House committee chair requests immediate briefing on Secret Service's involvement in clearing protesters

House committee chair requests immediate briefing on Secret Service's involvement in clearing protesters
© Greg Nash

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonSenate to hold nomination hearing for Wolf next week Hillicon Valley: FBI chief says Russia is trying to interfere in election to undermine Biden | Treasury Dept. sanctions Iranian government-backed hackers FBI director calls antifa 'a real thing' MORE (D-Miss.) is requesting an immediate briefing on the Secret Service’s involvement in clearing protesters from Lafayette Square.

In a Tuesday letter to Secret Service Director James Murray, Thompson said he wants a briefing by June 5 “to understand the role of the United States Secret Service in planning, coordinating, and executing” actions such as the ones taken Monday night outside the White House.    

“I write to you stunned, disturbed, and furious at the sight of federal authorities tear-gassing peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park, outside the White House, last night, in order to clear the way for the President to walk over and hold a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church,” Thompson said.  

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“It is shameful that the President used the power of the federal government to attack Americans exercising their Constitutional right to protest just so he could stage a photo opportunity,” he continued. 

The chairman acknowledged that the Secret Service employees “have had to make difficult decisions” as acts of violence have erupted during protests in Washington, D.C., over George Floyd’s death.

“I pray that all injured Secret Service employees make a quick and full recovery and that no further injuries occur,” he said.

Thompson’s request for a briefing comes after law enforcement cleared the area in front of the White House with tear gas on Monday night shortly before President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy MORE walked to nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church. At the church, the president posed for photos with a Bible along with other officials. 

The demonstrators were removed at least 15 minutes before the 7 p.m. curfew went into effect in the city. 

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Several officials slammed the move, including D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), who implemented the curfew

Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyJudge issues nationwide injunction against Postal Service changes House panel advances bill to ban Postal Service leaders from holding political positions Shakespeare Theatre Company goes virtual for 'Will on the Hill...or Won't They?' MORE (D-Va.), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations, also wrote to Murray on Tuesday demanding an explanation of the Secret Service's actions on Monday.

Protesters across the country are demonstrating over Floyd’s death after he was detained by police in Minneapolis last week. Bystander video footage showed former officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe and became unresponsive.

Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter and has been fired from the department. The three other officers involved in Floyd’s arrest have been fired but not charged.