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Washington Post / YouTube

Attorney General William Barr is facing demands to step down after the Washington Post reported Tuesday that the nation’s top law enforcement official personally ordered police to beat back peaceful protesters gathered near the White House Monday evening to clear the path for President Donald Trump’s walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Two anonymous federal law enforcement officials told the Post that “the decision had been made late Sunday or early Monday to extend the perimeter around Lafayette Square by one block.” An unnamed Justice Department official said that Barr on Monday afternoon “went to survey the scene and found the perimeter had not been extended.”

“The attorney general conferred with law enforcement officials on the ground, which the official said is captured in a video of the incident,” the Post reported. “He conferred with them to check on the status and basically said: ‘This needs to be done. Get it done,’ the Justice Department official said.”

National Guard soldiers and police proceeded to club peaceful protesters with batons and fire tear gas canisters into crowds as Trump delivered a speech on the nationwide uprising sparked by the killing of George Floyd. The New York Times reported Tuesday that Barr “had strolled to the edge of the police line to observe the crowd in the minutes before the tear-gassing began.”

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) was the first Democratic member of Congress to demand Barr’s resignation in the wake of the Post‘s reporting, which was confirmed by ABC News.

“The Attorney General is the top law enforcement officer in the country, the leader of an agency meant to protect Americans’ constitutional rights,” Beyer tweeted Tuesday. “Barr betrayed that mission by ordering the violent and systematic violation of peaceful protesters’ rights. He should resign.”

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), also called for Barr’s resignation Tuesday.

“AG Bill Barr’s behavior has been deeply problematic since he was sworn in, but now it has become truly dangerous,” CREW tweeted. “He needs to resign.”

In a statement released just ahead of the Post‘s report, Barr thanked the police and the National Guard for their “outstanding work” Monday night but did not mention his role in ordering the assault on demonstrators.

“I am particularly impressed by the citizen-soldiers of the D.C. National Guard, who are committed to serving their community, and did so with great effectiveness last night,” Barr said. “There will be even greater law enforcement resources and support in the region tonight.”

Before news of Barr’s instructions to law enforcement broke, Senate Democrats unveiled a non-binding resolution (pdf) condemning Trump for “ordering federal officers to use gas and rubber bullets against the Americans who were peaceably protesting in Lafayette Square… thereby violating the constitutional rights of those peaceful protestors.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Democrats will attempt to pass the resolution by unanimous consent Tuesday, but Republicans are expected to block it.

“President Trump ordered federal officers to attack peaceful American citizens exercising their constitutional rights by tear gassing them in a public park while military helicopters flew overhead,” Schumer tweeted. “Appalling. An abuse of presidential power. Blatantly unconstitutional.”

Read the full resolution:

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Any Republicans who would block the resolution are affectively condoning the unconstitutional attack of peaceful demonstrators, and should be called to resign. This is a democracy and we have the right to peacefully demonstrate. Trump and Barr are trying to turn this country into an autocracy, and thus their actions must not be allowed to continue.

  2. donnie should be impeached again and this time removed. He is assaulting Americans. He gets his directions from putin and the coward thinks he is king.. First barr then donnie. They have from now to January and can have a full force civil war if not stopped.

  3. Whenever Barr comes up, I get a whiff of Dick Cheney, right down to the off hand, monotone vocal inflections, and predilection for charred meat; they should start an American Sumo Wrestling league1 But seriously, this whole race war agenda reeks of a last gasp notion of Cheney’s. 911 didn’t quite do it. McCain and Romney were defeated, so forget the official Republican Party, bring in a terrorist. And here we are.

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