Donald Trump is coming under fire from members of his own party after a much-criticized photo-op on the streets of Washington, D.C., one that was preceded by a police crackdown on peaceful protesters.
Ben Sasse, a Republican Senator from Nebraska, released a statement blasting Trump for his photo shoot where he posed holding a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House. The church building had been damaged during raucous protests over the weekend, and Trump walked from the White House grounds to the church to stand in front of it for photographs.
But critics say that in order to get the photo shoot, local and military police aggressively pushed out what had been a peaceful protest, shooting tear gas and striking some protesters, including journalists covering the event.
Sasse blasted Trump’s actions to clear out the protest that, unlike others that took place in the nation’s capital over the weekend, was reported to be entirely peaceful and calm.
“I’m against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo op that treats the Word of God as a political prop,” Sasse said in a statement, via USA Today. The Nebraska Senator added that the people there had a “fundamental — a Constitutional — right to protest.”
A number of other top Republicans joined Sasse in criticizing Trump for the photo shoot. That included Senator Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the U.S. Senate, who said it should have never been a consideration to use force against peaceful protesters so the president could have a photo-op. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina and one of Trump’s most fervent defenders, said the attack on protesters was “terrible.”
“I don’t know what the point the president was trying to make,” he said.
“Trying to restore order is a good thing. Attack on a church is a terrible thing. I don’t think it advanced the ball one way or another.”
Other local religious leaders, including the bishop who oversees St. John’s church, are saying he organized the photo op without the permission of the church. A number of clergy members were reportedly among the peaceful protesters that were pushed out.
As The Inquisitr reported, White House insiders said Trump insisted on the photo shoot on Monday because he was upset at seeing reports that he became “rattled” and had to be whisked to an underground bunker late on Friday as protesters knocked down a barrier near the grounds of the White House.