Republican senators were divided over President Donald Trump’s Monday evening visit to St. John’s Church, with one senator accusing the president of using the Bible as a “political prop.”
Trump walked from the White House to the historic church, which was set on fire by rioters over the weekend. (RELATED: Here Are The Cities Handling The George Floyd Riots The Worst)
“There is no right to riot… But there is a fundamental—a Constitutional—right to protest, and I’m against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo op that treats the Word of God as a political prop,” Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said in a statement Tuesday.
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott also criticized Trump after some people present at the protest accused police of using tear gas to clear Lafayette Square for Trump’s visit. The United States Park Police has denied accusations that tear gas was deployed against peaceful protesters.
“Obviously, if your question is, should you use tear gas to clear a path so the president can go have a photo-op, the answer is no,” Scott told Politico Tuesday.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski decried the treatment of protesters as not “the America I know,” while Maine Sen. Susan Collins said the president came across as “unsympathetic” during his visit to the church.
“It was painful to watch peaceful protesters to be subjected to tear gas in order for the president to go across the street to a church that I believe he’s attended only once,” Collins said.
GOP Sen. Susan Collins told reporters that President Trump was “unsympathetic” and “insensitive” to protesters outside the White House, and it was “painful” to watch them being tear-gassed before his photo shoot at a church. https://t.co/JGqH7aWDq5 pic.twitter.com/B5Weam0I5I
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 2, 2020
Other Republican senators defended Trump, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
“I am glad the president, yesterday, led by going to St. John’s Church, a historic church in our capital city that was firebombed by terrorists. It was important for him to be there and say ‘we will not be cowed by terrorists,'” Cruz said Tuesday.
Top Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and John Cornyn of Texas also defended the president, according to a report Tuesday from CNN.
“I think a president ought to bring attention to that terrorist activity, and go there and do … what he did last night,” Grassley reportedly said.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio accused the protesters of flouting Washington D.C.’s 7 P.M. curfew, saying they “deliberately” sought confrontation with police.
“Many in the media fell for the calculated & deliberate tactics of professional agitators. They knew the street needed to be cleared before 7pm curfew. But they deliberately stayed to trigger police action & get the story they wanted, that ‘police attacked peaceful protestors,'” Rubio tweeted Monday.
Many in the media fell for the calculated & deliberate tactics of professional agitators.
They knew the street needed to be cleared before 7pm curfew.
But they deliberately stayed to trigger police action & get the story they wanted, that “police attacked peaceful protestors.”
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 1, 2020