Skip to main content

Report Says Bill Barr Personally Ordered Law Enforcement to Clear Protesters Near the White House: ‘Get It Done’


WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 1: U.S. Attorney General William Barr (3rd R) walks through Lafayette Park during a demonstration on June 1, 2020 in Washington, DC. Thousands of protesters took to the streets throughout the Washington to continue to show anger at Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin who was filmed kneeling on George Floyd's neck before he was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. Floyd's death, the most recent in a series of deaths of black Americans while in police custody, has set off days and nights of protests across the country.

Attorney General William Barr “personally ordered law enforcement officials” to “push back protesters” before President Donald Trump spoke from the Rose Garden and eventually emerged from the White House Monday to be photographed holding a Bible in front of a church, the Washington Post has reported.

The Tuesday afternoon report cited a Justice Department official who was not named. The news outlet later cited “two federal law enforcement officials.”

“Barr ordered law enforcement officials on the ground to extend the perimeter around Lafayette Square, which is adjacent to the White House,” the report stated. It later used less forceful language, noting that the decision for law enforcement to take the move “had been made late Sunday or early Monday” and that “Barr was a part of the decision-making process.”

The reportedly planned move by law enforcement was set to occur Monday afternoon. “Barr went to survey the scene and found the perimeter had not been extended,” the report continued. “The attorney general conferred with law enforcement officials on the ground, which the official said is captured in a video of the incident.”

Quoting the unnamed official, the Post reported that Barr “conferred with [the police] to check on the status and basically said: ‘This needs to be done. Get it done.'”

The protesters, described as “peaceful,” were pushed back “with riot shields and horses.”

Barr apparently “assumed that any resistance from the protesters . . . would be met with typical crowd-control measures,” the official said, according to the Post. The official said the orders were not directly related to Trump’s decision to walk to the church. “This plan was happening, regardless of any plans of the president,” the official was quoted as saying.

Barr on Tuesday congratulated the various law enforcement agencies on the ground in Washington, D.C. and said Monday “night was a more peaceful night” because of it. “Working together, federal and local law enforcement made significant progress in restoring order to the nation’s capital,” he said.

Among those who drew Barr’s praise were Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley, the Department of Defense, the D.C. National Guard, the FBI, the Secret Service, Park Police, ATF, DEA, Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Marshals Service, Capitol Police, Department of Homeland Security’s CBP and Border Patrol units, and “others.”

“There will be even greater law enforcement resources and support in the region tonight,” Barr said of Tuesday evening. “The most basic function of government is to provide security for people to live their lives and exercise their rights, and we will meet that responsibility here in the nation’s capital.”

Barr’s critics loudly condemned Barr’s reported actions:

[Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images.]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime:

Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.