The New York Times Company
WASHINGTON — Democratic leaders in Congress and a pair of Republicans on Tuesday condemned President Donald Trump for his response to protests around the country and in the capital, the day after peaceful demonstrators were gassed in front of the White House so he could pose for a photograph with a Bible.
The rare bipartisan rebukes reflected a broad sense of alarm at the president’s behavior as protests of police violence and racial discrimination reach a boiling point throughout the country. They followed a remarkable spectacle that unfolded Monday evening, when the police fired flash-bang explosions and tear gas and used officers on horseback to drive away peaceful protesters as Trump appeared in the Rose Garden and threatened to send the United States military into states where governors could not bring protests under control.
He then left the White House and, with Attorney General William Barr and other aides, crossed a park that had been cleared of demonstrators to have his picture taken holding the Bible outside a historic church that had been vandalized in the unrest.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged the president to focus on “a time to heal,” adding that the aggressive scene that played out in Washington on Monday had “no place” in the nation’s capital.
“We would hope that the president of the United States would follow the lead of so many other presidents and be a healer in chief,” Pelosi said, “and not a fanner of the flame.”
At least two Republicans joined in the criticism of the president’s actions.
“There is no right to riot, no right to destroy others’ property and no right to throw rocks at police,” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said in a statement. “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.”
His comments echoed those of Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black Republican in the Senate, who denounced the move in unequivocal terms during an event hosted by Politico.