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President Trump with Esper and Barr following behind him. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Civil rights groups filed a lawsuit Thursday against President Trump, Attorney General Bill Barr and other federal officials on behalf of Black Lives Matter and other peaceful protesters who were forcibly removed with rubber bullets and chemical irritants before Trump's photo-op at the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church on Monday.

What they're saying: "The President's shameless, unconstitutional, unprovoked, and frankly criminal attack on protesters because he disagreed with their views shakes the foundation of our nation’s constitutional order," said ACLU of D.C. legal director Scott Michelman. "And when the nation's top law enforcement officer becomes complicit in the tactics of an autocrat, it chills protected speech for all of us."

  • "Across the country, law enforcement armed with military weaponry are responding with violence to people who are protesting police brutality," added Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project.
  • "The First Amendment right to protest is under attack, and we will not let this go unanswered. This is the first of many lawsuits the ACLU intends to file across the country in response to police brutality against protesters."

The big picture: Former Defense Secretary James Mattis, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and some Republican lawmakers have condemned Trump's decision to physically clear peaceful protesters from the scene.

The other side: Barr said at a press conference Thursday that there was "no correlation" between his decision to order police to forcibly remove protesters from Lafayette Park and Trump's subsequent visit to the church.

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

Go deeper

Bill Barr defends DOJ action in Trump defamation lawsuit

Attorney General William Barr. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The White House asked the Department of Justice to intervene in the defense of President Trump's defamation lawsuit brought by writer E. Jean Carroll, who's accused him of rape, Attorney General William Barr said Wednesday.

Driving the news: Carroll said the DOJ's move to replace Trump's private lawyers in the case shows that he "will do everything possible, including using the full powers of the federal government," to block her. But Barr said the intervention was "a normal application of the law."

Former Georgetown tennis coach pleads guilty to accepting admissions bribes

Gordon Ernst (left) former head tennis coach at Georgetown, is pictured outside the John Joseph Moakley United State Courthouse in Boston on March 25, 2019. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A former Georgetown University head tennis coach has pleaded guilty Tuesday to bribery charges related to facilitating the admission of prospective applicants.

Why it matters: Gordon Ernst solicited and accepted bribes from William Singer, ringleader of the cheating scheme uncovered by Operation Varsity Blues, and families in exchange for helping prospective applicants get into Georgetown as student athletes, according to the Justice Department.

2 hours ago - Health

CDC says some immunocompromised people can get fourth COVID shot

Photo: Noriko Hayashi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in updated guidelines Tuesday that some immunocompromised people who have received either Pfizer or Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines will be able to get a fourth shot.

Details: People over 18 who are "moderately to severely immunocompromised" and have received three doses of an mRNA vaccine may get a fourth shot (of either the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines) at least six months after getting their third Pfizer or Moderna dose, per the CDC.