McConnell blocks resolution condemning Trump over treatment of protesters
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday blocked a resolution from Democrats that would have condemned President Trump after rubber bullets and gas were used on peaceful protesters near the White House.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) tried to pass the resolution, which was introduced earlier Tuesday, by unanimous consent, meaning any one senator could block it.
“If a senator objects, they should be asked if they believe Americans do not have the constitutional right to exercise the freedom of speech. … Do they support the president’s use of tear gas against people, including families, who are peacefully protesting in a public park?” Schumer said.
The resolution condemns Trump for “ordering Federal officers to use gas and rubber bullets against the Americans who were peaceably protesting in Lafayette Square in Washington, DC on the night of June 1, 2020, thereby violating the constitutional rights of those peaceful protestors.”
The National Guard, U.S. Park Police and Secret Service used rubber bullets and tear gas to clear demonstrators from Lafayette Square so that Trump could cross the street to St. John’s Episcopal Church, which had been set on fire by vandals the night before.
The Washington Post reported that Attorney General William Barr personally ordered for the perimeter near the White House to be extended, pushing protesters away from Lafayette Square.
The decision, law enforcement officials told the publication, was made late Sunday or early Monday, but Barr noticed it had not been completed on Monday afternoon and ordered law enforcement to broaden the perimeter.
The Democratic resolution would also throw congressional support behind the right of Americans to protest peacefully and the belief that “violence and looting are unlawful, unacceptable and contrary to the purpose of peaceful protests.”
But McConnell objected, arguing that the Democratic resolution did not address racial injustice or ending riots.
“It pays more attention to the precise ways that federal law enforcement affects presidential movement around the White House instead of cities that have been consumed by rioting, looting and violence against police for several nights in a row,” he said.
“There’s no universe where Americans think Democrats’ obsession with condemning President Trump is [a] more urgent priority than ending the riots or advancing racial justice,” McConnell said.
McConnell then offered his own resolution, which was blocked by Schumer. McConnell’s resolution did not address the actions taken against protesters outside the White House on Monday night.
The resolution would throw the Senate’s support behind the idea that “order must be immediately restored to the cities of the United States so that citizens may have peace and the legitimate grievances of peaceful protestors may be heard and considered.”
Schumer said he blocked the resolution because it is “insufficient.”
“It’s very simple why the Republican leader objected to our resolution and offered his one instead. It’s because they do not want to condemn what the president did, though every fair-minded American of any political party would,” he said.