The prepared testimony of DC National Guard Major Adam D. DeMarco, who is set to appear before a hearing on Tuesday, challenges Attorney General William Barr’s account of the dispersal.
“The demonstrators were behaving peacefully, exercising their First Amendment rights,” DeMarco is expected to say, adding he was surprised the clearing operation began well in advance of a 7 p.m. ET curfew set by Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser.
DeMarco’s testimony, however, says Barr and other officials arrived in Lafayette Square at 6:05 p.m., adding that the attorney general observed protesters and “appeared to confer with Park Police officers.” DeMarco’s testimony suggests he was not part of that meeting, and instead was briefing the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley.
“At around 6:20 p.m., after the Attorney General and General Milley departed Lafayette Square, the Park Police issued the first of three warning announcements to the demonstrators, directing them to disperse,” DeMarco is expected to say.
“So my attitude was get it done, but I didn’t say, ‘Go do it,'” Barr said.
DeMarco says he was not informed that Trump would visit the church in the area that was cleared.
“The President’s arrival was a complete surprise, as we had not been briefed that he would enter our sector,” DeMarco’s testimony says.
Top Trump administration officials have claimed the use of force was justified against protesters they have described as violent, despite eyewitness accounts disputing that characterization.
This story is breaking and will be updated.