Donald Trump, Bill Barr Score Another Big Victory in the Lafayette Park Clearing Controversy

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

We reported earlier this month on how the media and Democrats (but I repeat myself) were hardest hit after former President Trump and his then-Attorney General William Barr had been vindicated by an Inspector General’s report on the June 2020 Lafayette Park clearing controversy.

To quickly recap, the IG report just released on June 9th found that the park was not in fact cleared for any supposed photo-op as Democrats, the media, and BLM activists had alleged, vindicating Trump and Barr:

The evidence we obtained did not support a finding that the USPP [U.S. Park Police] cleared the park to allow the President to survey the damage and walk to St. John’s Church. Instead, the evidence we reviewed showed that the USPP cleared the park to allow the contractor to safely install the antiscale fencing in response to destruction of property and injury to officers occurring on May 30 and 31. Further, the evidence showed that the USPP did not know about the President’s potential movement until mid- to late afternoon on June 1—hours after it had begun developing its operational plan and the fencing contractor had arrived in the park.

The report dovetailed with what the acting Park Police chief told the House Committee on Natural Resources during a July 2020 hearing.

Just today, in another big victory for Trump and Barr, a federal judge ruled that the plaintiffs (ACLU, BLM, etc) in various lawsuits against Trump, Barr, and other former administration officials over the incident could not provide sufficient evidence that there was a conspiracy to deny protesters their First Amendment rights. The judge also ruled that Trump and Barr “are entitled to qualified immunity as the plaintiffs have not plausibly alleged a violation of law”:

A U.S. judge on Monday dismissed most claims filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of D.C., Black Lives Matter and others who in lawsuits accused the Trump administration of authorizing an unprovoked attack on demonstrators in Lafayette Square last year.

The plaintiffs asserted the government used unnecessary force to enable a photo op of Trump holding a Bible outside of the historical St. John’s Church. But U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of Washington called allegations that federals officials conspired to make way for the photo too speculative.

The judge’s decision came in a 51-page opinion after the Justice Department requested she toss four overlapping lawsuits naming dozens of federal individual and agency defendants, as well as D.C. and Arlington police, in the June 2020 incident.

You can read Judge Friedrich’s full ruling here. Friedrich was nominated by Trump in May 2017 to the D.C. District Court. She was confirmed in a 97–3 Senate vote in November 2017 and began serving the next month.

There’s no word yet on the news about the lawsuits being tossed from CNN’s Jim Acosta, who was one of the lead false narrative drivers on what was originally claimed to have happened last year at Lafayette Park, but I’d bet money his hot take will be to suggest that “of course” the judge would rule that way because she’s a Trump appointee, rather than actually arguing against the actual statements made in the ruling. He’s pretty predictable that way, and I am fully prepared to be greatly amused.