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Trump Lashes Out at Criticism from GOP Senators for Pushing Out Peaceful DC Protestors for Church Photo Op: ‘You Got It Wrong!’

Donald Trump

Paul J. Richards, AFP/Getty Images.

President Donald Trump lashed out Tuesday night at the widespread criticism of his choreographed photo op at a church near the White House the day before, calling out three disapproving Republican senators by name: “You got it wrong!”

On Monday evening, federal law enforcement instigated a mass push — reportedly using flash bang grenades and tear gas — to remove peaceful protestors from Lafayette Park roughly 20 minutes before the Washington, D.C. nightly curfew went into effect. Those forces opened up a security cordon around the St. John’s Episcopal Church, which Trump then walked to after his Rose Garden speech on the George Floyd protests and where he awkwardly held up a bible, without entering the church that had been damaged by a small fire set by rioters the night before. The entire orchestrated chain of events was immediately and widely condemned by commentators as a shameless stunt.

On Tuesday, a number of Republican politicians joined the chorus of critics. Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse slammed Trump for “treating the word of God as a political prop.” Fellow GOP Senator Susan Collins criticized the president’s stunt, saying “it was painful to watch peaceful protestors be subjected to tear gas” and called his actions “unsympathetic” and “insensitive.” And Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford said “of course not” when asked if he was comfortable with the president’s public relations move.

The president, however, tried to claim that the untold number of reporters who were present in Lafayette Park were wrong when they reported that the protestors were acting peacefully on Monday night before the police moved in. His proof? That protestors had committed acts of vandalism in that same park the night before. He then singled out, by name, the Republican critics, and linked to a report in The Federalist that disputes the numerous on-the-ground reports of tear gas being deployed and instead cites a U.S. Park Police statement denying the use of tear gas.

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