The order to disperse peaceful protesters Monday from Lafayette Square came personally from Attorney General William Barr, an anonymous Justice Department official told The Washington Post on Tuesday. Federal police forced the demonstrators out of the area with smoke canisters and riot shields shortly before President Trump walked through on his way to the nearby St. John's Church, where he posed for photos while holding a Bible. Trump reportedly directed Barr to lead the response to the capital's unrest. "He conferred with [law enforcement officials] to check on the status and basically said: 'This needs to be done. Get it done,'" the department official said. Barr was reportedly told protesters were planning to throw rocks, though Post reporters at the scene did not witness anyone holding rocks.
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