NYT: Hope Hicks Was Behind Photo-Op Stunt That Lead To Gassing Of Protesters
The New York Times reported Tuesday that presidential adviser Hope Hicks was behind the plan to have President Donald Trump stroll from the White House for a photo op at St. John’s Episcopal Church, which ultimately led to peaceful protesters being tear-gassed by police.
Hicks and others planned the excursion after White House aides were outraged over the church being set on fire the night before.
Trump made the short trip from the White House to the church after delivering an address from the Rose Garden.
The Times reported that “Trump began his walk to the church at 7:01 p.m. for a photo session that lasted about 17 minutes.”
Prior to the 7 p.m. curfew, the largely peaceful protesters were “hit with flash-bang explosions and doused with tear gas,” in order to clear the path for Trump’s walk.
Following behind the president were several White House aides and officials, including Hicks; senior adviser Jared Kushner; the president’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump; White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany; White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows; and Attorney General William Barr.
The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, Mariann E. Budde — who was not present for the publicity stunt — said church officials were not given advance notice of the plan.
She also “expressed outrage at the White House’s use of riot-control tactics on a generally peaceful crowd to clear a path for the president.”
“He did not pray,” the bishop, Mariann E. Budde, said in an interview. Referring to the death of the black man in police custody that set off the protests, she added: “He did not mention George Floyd, he did not mention the agony of people who have been subjected to this kind of horrific expression of racism and white supremacy for hundreds of years. We need a president who can unify and heal. He has done the opposite of that, and we are left to pick up the pieces.”
Budde also said “one of the visiting priests attending to St. John’s was sprayed with tear gas as she tried to help scared demonstrators leave the area.”