Trump retweeted a letter describing peaceful protesters tear-gassed for his church photo-op as 'terrorists'
- President Donald Trump on Thursday shared a letter on Twitter from his former attorney, John Dowd, attacking peaceful protesters outside the White House.
- in the letter, Dowd describes as "terrorists" people dispersed with tear gas and rubber bullets on Monday.
- Police cleared the square to make way for Trump, who stood holding up a bible in front of news cameras.
- Dowd writes that "the peaceful protesters near Lafayette Park were not peaceful and are not real. They are terrorists using idle hate filled students to burn and destroy."
President Donald Trump on Thursday shared a letter on Twitter in which his former attorney described protesters peacefully demonstrating against racism outside the White House as "terrorists."
Trump's former attorney John Dowd in the letter is describing the protesters who were dispersed from Lafayette Park outside the White House on Monday by police using rubber bullets and tear gas so the president could stage a photo-op holding a bible.
No evidence from witness accounts or video footage of the demonstration indicates that the protesters were engaged in violence.
In the letter, Dowd claims that "the peaceful protesters near Lafayette Park were not peaceful and are not real. They are terrorists using idle hate filled students to burn and destroy."
He asserts that the protesters were "abusing and disrespecting the police when the police were preparing the area for the 1900 curfew."
The protesters were forcibly dispersed at 6.30 pm, thirty minutes before the curfew came into force.
—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2020
Dowd's attack mirrors attempts by Trump to portray the protests against systemic police racism and brutality as the product of left-wing extremists and agitators.
The protests have brought thousands of Americans to the streets, and authorities have yet to produce evidence to suggest that they are chiefly instigated by the extremists the president has described.
The president is reportedly banking on a re-election strategy similar to that used by Richard Nixon in 1968, when mass popular protests previously swept the US. Nixon portrayed himself as the defender of law and order against the forces of anarchy and rioting, and won the presidential election.
But the president is coming under mounting criticism, including from members of the Republican party and some of the most senior former officials in his administration, for responding to the protests with threats of force rather than appeals for unity.
The letter by Dowd is addressed to "Jim," seemingly referring to Jim Mattis, the former Marine Corps general and Trump's first secretary of defense.
On Wednesday Mattis broke his silence to issue an extraordinary criticism of Trump's handling of the protests, accusing him of violating the US Constitution and of seeking to divide rather than unify Americans.
In the diatribe, Dowd accuses Mattis of a series of failings while he served in senior positions in the Pentagon, and as Trump's secretary of defense until 2018, when he resigned over Trump's decision to withdraw US forces from Syria. Trump has falsely claimed that he fired Mattis.
Dowd questions why Mattis didn't assassinate Iran's Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike in January. "Why did it take President Trump to have the instincts and balls to take him out (and of course over the objection of geniuses at the Pentagon)?" Dowd writes.
Dowd resigned as Trump's attorney in March 2018, reportedly over disagreements with the president on how to handle Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.
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