Barr, Garland and Lafayette Park

U.S. Park Police string security tape around Lafayette Square near the White House in Washington, D.C., June 1, 2020.


Photo:

mandel ngan / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

The liberal establishment willed into being much anti-Trump folk wisdom during the 2020 election campaign. Among the legends were that the U.S. Postal Service was being manipulated to steal votes; that the lab-leak theory of the coronavirus was racist misinformation; and that

Donald Trump

and

Bill Barr

gassed peaceful protesters at Lafayette Park to make way for the President’s authoritarian “photo-op.”

The latest of these progressive tribal beliefs to be punctured is the narrative around Lafayette Park. The Inspector General of the Department of Interior on Wednesday released a report on police actions in the park, which is adjacent to the White House. It found that the U.S. Park Police on June 1, 2020 “cleared the park to allow the contractor to safely install the antiscale fencing in response to destruction of property and injury to officers” from rioting.

Since the Jan. 6 pro-Trump assault on the Capitol, the necessity of securing government institutions from political violence has been widely accepted. But last year Democrats made excuses for riots.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

called for an investigation into Attorney General Bill Barr for the “sickening and appalling” clearing of the park.

Now one investigation is complete, and it found “no evidence that the Attorney General’s visit to Lafayette Park at 6:10 p.m. caused the USPP to alter its plans to clear the park,” which it had the “authority and discretion” to do after the violence, which injured 49 officers.

The Department of Justice recently asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit against Mr. Barr relating to the events at Lafayette Square. Attorney General

Merrick Garland

told a Senate hearing on Wednesday that “the job of the Justice Department in making decisions of law is not to back any Administration” or impose “one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans.” Hear, hear. The rule of law can be a counterweight to partisan narratives.

William Barr returned to the Department of Justice in 2019 to stop it being used as a political weapon. He succeeded because he was willing to reimpose norms amid a sea of partisan critics. Image: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the June 10, 2021, print edition.

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