Reports from both The New York Times and the Daily Mail claimed that presidential adviser Hope Hicks was behind President Donald Trump's controversial St. John's Church, Lafayette Square appearance, which led to peaceful protesters in the area being tear-gassed to make way for the president.
According to The New York Times, a White House official claimed that Hicks crafted the plan along with other government officials. The Daily Mail echoed the report and said that Hicks has been identified as one of the primary people behind the stunt, which was allegedly intended to paint Trump as a "law and order president," mirroring a strategy employed by former President Richard Nixon.
"As a PR move it may have backfired, after global and national media broadcast images of shield-bearing and mounted police using force to clear Lafayette Park, an area whose use as a forum for demonstrations and speech has long been protected," the Daily Mail reported.
Per The New York Times, the stunt caused dismay among religious leaders, who noted Trump's use of the Bible and accused him of co-opting religion for political purposes.
"The Bible is not an American document," Bishop Budde said.
"It's not an expression of our country. It's an expression of the human struggle to serve and love and know God."Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden also took aim at the move during one of his first in-person campaign speeches since the coronavirus spread across the world.
"The president held up the Bible at St. John's church yesterday. I just wish he opened it once in a while instead of brandishing it."Hicks' plan has also caused pushback from one of her colleagues — a senior White House official who expressed their feelings speaking to Axios.
"I've never been more ashamed," the official said of watching the crowd be dispersed with tear gas. "I'm really honestly disgusted. I'm sick to my stomach. And they're all celebrating it. They're very very proud of themselves."
Conversely, a senior White House aide reportedly called the picture of Trump holding the Bible in front of St. John's an "iconic" moment for Trump.
Trump's walk from the Rose Garden to the church included Hicks, as well as senior advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and chief of staff Mark Meadows also joined the president in the staged event.
As The Inquisitr reported, Hicks was previously Trump's communications director. After a two-year absence from the White House, she returned after the president cleaned house in the wake of the impeachment hearing. The 31-year-old now carries the title of "counselor to the president" and is working as an aide to Kushner, who is overseeing Trump's reelection campaign.