Jun 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump walks to historic St. John's Church outside White House as protests rage

President Trump walked to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church, located just steps away from the White House across Lafayette Park, on Monday night as protests linked to the murder of George Floyd raged across the capital and cities around the country.

What we're seeing: Military police and park rangers used physical force and tear gas on peaceful protestors to clear the area so that Trump could "pay respects" to the church that was damaged by a fire on Sunday.

  • The president, accompanied by a large group of Trump administration officials, stood at the foot of the boarded up church, made brief remarks, and held up a bible for a photo. He did not take any questions.
  • Every single aide who traveled with him — including chief of staff Mark Meadows, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Attorney General Bill Barr, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, among several others — was white.

Context: St. John’s Episcopal Church was built in 1815, and is often referred to as the “church of the presidents.”

  • Every president since James Madison has attended at least one service there, according to the church's website.

The big picture: The photo-op came moments after President Trump addressed the nation from the White House Rose Garden, where he threatened to deploy the U.S. military to stamp out riots and violence if state and local governments fail to do so.

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