As many Senate Republicans either refused to answer questions about the police assault on peaceful protesters in the nation’s capital Monday or openly praised President Donald Trump for the brutal crackdown, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday blocked the passage of a Democratic resolution condemning Trump for violating the constitutional rights of demonstrators by “ordering federal officers to use gas and rubber bullets” against them.
Senate Democrats attempted to pass the non-binding resolution by unanimous consent, but the Kentucky Republican objected and put forth his own measure that stripped out any mention of the president.
“It’s very simple why the Republican leader objected to our resolution and offered this one instead,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a floor speech, referring to McConnell’s alternative resolution. “It’s because they do not want to condemn what the president did, though every fair-minded American of any political party would.”
In an appearance on MSNBC Tuesday evening as mass protests over the police killing of George Floyd continued in the nation’s capital and across the country, Schumer called the Senate GOP’s enabling of Trump “appalling” and slammed the president’s deployment of military vehicles and personnel to the streets of Washington, D.C. as “just like a dictatorship.”
The Daily Beast reported that Trump personally instructed military helicopters to fly low over demonstrators in D.C. and “has pressed aides and Pentagon officials for graphic details on the kind of armored vehicles, military units, aircraft, and even ‘tanks’ that they could potentially send” to U.S. cities.
“They’re afraid. They’re afraid of Donald Trump,” Schumer said of Senate Republicans. “And that leads to Donald Trump getting worse and worse and worse. It’s appalling.”
Schumer introduced the Democratic resolution hours before the Washington Post, citing anonymous federal officials, reported Tuesday that Attorney General William Barr personally ordered law enforcement officials to beat back the peaceful demonstrators gathered near the White House in order to clear the path for Trump’s walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Soldiers from the D.C. National Guard and the U.S. Park Police moved on the peaceful protesters, beating them with batons and firing tear gas into crowds, as Trump delivered an incendiary and militaristic speech in the Rose Garden of the White House — remarks that Democratic lawmakers condemned as a fascistic “declaration of war” against the public.
The U.S. Park Police subsequently claimed that despite numerous witness accounts, tear gas was not used against the demonstrators — a denial that has been touted by the Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign. But as Vox’s Alex Ward reported Tuesday, the narrative does not stand up to scrutiny.
“Nathan Baca, a reporter for WUSA9 in Washington, D.C., picked up a canister used during the Monday assault. It’s not a smoke canister, but it does launch ‘OC’ gas which ‘Causes same tears, tight breath and comes out green,'” Ward wrote. “Other journalists who covered the protests in person that evening say without a doubt that law enforcement used tear gas, a chemical irritant that can cause those exposed to it to want to vomit.”