At the time, a livid Trump made clear to then-top Cabinet members Attorney General William Barr, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff Mark Milley that he wanted active members of the military to patrol the streets in DC, an official told the Times.
They were able to persuade him not to do that, the paper reported, and Trump ultimately did not invoke the act. But, according to the Times, aides inside the White House prepared a ready-to-go document in case the situation outside the White House escalated, and Trump knew the proclamation had been drafted.
Trump denied to the Times that he had wanted to deploy the military in the nation’s capital. “It’s absolutely not true and if it was true, I would have done it,” he told the paper.
Earlier this month, a watchdog report found that the US Park Police had not cleared the racial injustice protesters from Lafayette Park last year to allow for the then-President’s march to St. John’s Church. The report — released by the Interior Department’s inspector general — found that the demonstrators had been removed to allow a contractor to install a fence safely around the White House.
The Park Police had the authority to move the protesters during last June’s clash outside the White House, the report also said.
The response from law enforcement during the 2020 Lafayette Square incident has been a major source of contention, as Democratic lawmakers have pushed for information about who gave the order to clear the park, which federal agencies were involved and what measures and authorizations were used.