Attorney General William Barr is insisting he was not involved in the decision to give tactical commands to forcefully disperse protesters in Washington, D.C.
During an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, Barr offered details about the series of events that unfolded on Monday. As the president held his briefing in the Rose Garden, peaceful protesters were forcefully cleared from the streets with reportedly the use of tear gas.
Although Barr at the White House during the time, he insists he was not involved in any tactical commands.
“They told me they were about to make the announcement and I think they stretched the announcements over 20 minutes,” Barr explained.
He continued, adding, “During the time I was there, I would periodically hear announcements. They had the Park Police mounted unit ready, so it was just a matter of execution. So I didn’t just say to them, ‘Go.’”
“I’m not involved in giving tactical commands like that. I was frustrated and I was also worried that as the crowd grew, it was going to be harder and harder to do. So my attitude was ‘Get it done,’ but I didn’t say, ‘Go do it.’”
Following Trump’s press briefing on Monday, law enforcement agencies around the White House were deeply criticized for the use of tear gas and rubber bullets on peaceful protesters. Initially, the USPP denied the use of tear gas.
But now, USPP is sharing a different perspective of the incident. On Friday, Sgt. Eduardo Delgado, a spokesperson for the Park Police, released a statement admitting the department’s mistake in terminology. Delgado told CNN the department could have described pepper balls as a form of tear gas.
“The point is we admitted to using what we used,” Delgado said. “I think the term ‘tear gas’ doesn’t even matter anymore. It was a mistake on our part for using ‘tear gas’ because we just assumed people would think CS or CN [gas].”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the chemicals used by USPP are categorized as “riot control agencies.”
The CDC’s emergency fact sheet reads: “Riot control agents (sometimes referred to as ‘tear gas’) are chemical compounds that temporarily make people unable to function by causing irritation to the eyes, mouth, throat, lungs, and skin.”