DOJ Wants Federal Judge to Dismiss Lawsuits Over Trump Forcibly Removing Peaceful Protesters for Bible Photo-Op

Illustration for article titled DOJ Wants Federal Judge to Dismiss Lawsuits Over Trump Forcibly Removing Peaceful Protesters for Bible Photo-Op

Photo: Brendan Smialowski (Getty Images)

So…

Do y’all remember the time when ex-y’all’s-president had flash-bang and rubber bullet-wielding police officers forcibly remove peaceful protesters from Wahington D.C.’s Lafayette Square last June so that he could take an awkward photo holding a bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, which never invited his ass there in the first place? You might remember that, as The Root’s Stephen Crockett said when he reported on it, Trump really only did that dumb shit because he got all orangey-red in the face after media kept clowning him for being a little bunker beyotch who hid from protesters in the White House bunker.

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Well now, attorneys for the Department of Justice are acting as little bunker beyotch-enablers and have asked a federal judge to dismiss lawsuits filed against Trump and former attorney general William Barr over their parts in the clear abuse of power that was the violent clearing of more than 1,000 peaceful protesters.

From The Hill:

The Washington, D.C., chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Black Lives Matter and other civil rights organizations sued the Trump administration and law enforcement officials for the use of chemical agents and rubber bullets to disperse protesters before Trump walked across the square to pose for photographs with a Bible outside St. John’s Episcopal Church.

The legal action also targeted the Metropolitan Police Department of D.C. and several specific officers in the actions used against protesters who had gathered in the days following the police killing of George Floyd in May, 2020.

The incident resulted in four overlapping lawsuits against the Trump administration and law enforcement agencies filed on behalf of more than 100 U.S., D.C. and Arlington County defendants.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs and the DOJ presented arguments before the judge on Friday. According to the Washington Post, DOJ attorney David G. Cutler argued that Trumper-the-uninvited-bible-thumper and other U.S. officials could not be sued over police actions taken to protect a president.

From the Post:

The Supreme Court in 2004 ruled that Secret Service agents could not be sued for damages by protesters who claimed their free-speech rights were violated when they were moved two blocks away from an Oregon restaurant where then-president George W. Bush was dining “beyond handgun or explosive reach.”

Cutler argued that likewise, plaintiffs here “seek to hold the attorney general personally liable for damages for actions taken to ensure a safe perimeter for the president of the United States.”

Lawyers for the ACLU said that despite legal precedents, the government’s defense would “authorize brutality with impunity” in the heart of Washington at one of the most symbolic spaces within the seat of the federal government.

If their defense was upheld, U.S. authorities “could have used live ammunition to clear the park, and nobody would have a claim against that as an assault on their constitutional rights,” said Scott Michelman, legal director for ACLU-D.C.

U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich said she would rule on several motions to dismiss the four lawsuits “in the near future.”

According to the Post, at one point, Friedrich asked the plaintiffs, “How do I get over the clear national security concern over the president’s safety?” and later said “It seems to me you have to clear the square before he [Trump] walks to the church. Why is that not reasonable?”

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The DOJ lawyers and Friedrich appear to be under the impression that the issue at hand here is the clearing of protesters in and of itself and not the fact that police went full Cobra Kai on people who weren’t behaving violently in order to do it. What Friedrich should be asking is “how do I get over” the fact that there was no real violence in Lafayette Square until the president and his cop-commando got there.

Then there’s also this bit of laughable nonsense reported by The Hill:

Justice Department lawyers also argued Friday that because of Trump’s 2020 election loss, future violations are unlikely, adding that President Biden’s administration does not share the hostility Trump showed toward the wave of civil unrest and demonstrations that erupted in the months following Floyd’s death.

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So basically, none of the fuck shit Trump did while in office matters because now we have a better president—got it.

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