CLAIM: President-elect Joe Biden said that Trump had cleared protesters with “tear gas” and held a Bible “upside-down.”
VERDICT: FALSE. Both of Biden’s claimed repeat lies that he used on the campaign trail last year, and were debunked.
Biden made these claims on Thursday in a speech before announcing his choice of Judge Merrick Garland to lead the Department of Justice as U.S. Attorney General. He attacked President Donald Trump for the riots at the Capitol the day before, and claimed that Trump’s four years in office had led up to that moment. Biden did not condemn the violence of the left that raged across America over the past year, nor his party’s refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of the 2016 election.
Instead, Biden recycled several lies about Trump. One was the idea that the president had cleared peaceful protesters from the park in front of the White House last year so that he could have a “photo-op” at St. John’s Episcopal Church, which the rioters had burned the night before.
Breitbart News repeatedly debunked this false claim throughout the 2020 campaign:
The protests at Lafayette Square, outside the White House, were not “peaceful.”
A Breitbart News reporter was assaulted there, as were other journalists. Radical left-wing activists threw bricks, bottles, and rocks at law enforcement, injuring scores of officers.
Attorney General William Barr told CBS News exactly what happened:
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, OK, there were violent riots in- at Lafayette Park where the park police were under constant attack at the — behind their bike rack fences. On Sunday, things reached a crescendo. The officers were pummeled with bricks. Crowbars were used to pry up the pavers at the park and they were hurled at police. There were fires set in not only St. John’s Church, but a historic building at Lafayette was burned down.
All I heard — all I heard was comments about how peaceful protesters were. I didn’t hear about the fact that there were 150 law enforcement officers injured and many taken to the hospital with concussions. So it wasn’t a peaceful protest.
When the park was cleared, it was not for a “photo-op,” but for the safety of law enforcement and the White House itself. And tear gas was not used. Instead, the U.S. Park Police used pepper balls.
Even Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi later admitted: “Maybe they didn’t have tear gas.”
After Black Lives Matter Plaza was created, radical left-wing activists used it to stage further violent protests, first attempting to tear down a statue of President Andrew Jackson, then vandalizing the church.
Biden also repeated the false claim that Trump held the Bible upside-down in front of the church. Breitbart News fact-checked that, too:
Biden’s claim came in the course of an answer to a question from a journalist about how he would handle violent protest.
He said, in part, that President Trump “decided he had to walk across from the White House through a group of peaceful demonstrators, to an Episcopal Church to hold a Bible upside down, which I don’t know how often he reads, and he used the military to do that.”
The specific claim about the Bible is also a lie — as shown by any Google Images search of Trump standing at the church.