Kayleigh McEnany: No Tear Gas was used at Lafayette Square

Q    Kayleigh, you mentioned Dr. King.  He, likely, would not have approved of what took place Monday evening across from the White House, as you probably know.  If the White House, the President, and his team had to do it all over again, would you have gassed and pummeled protesters to clear the park so the President could have a photo op?

MS. MCENANY:  So let me first address: No tear gas was used and no rubber bullets were used.

Q    Chemical agents were used.

MS. MCENANY:  So, again, no tear gas was used, no rubber bullets were used.

Q    Why are you making that distinction?

MS. MCENANY:  Let me —

Q    Chemical agents were used.

MS. MCENANY:  Let me — let me back up and —

Q    We talked to an Episcopal priest who said she was gassed.  Others say they were tear-gassed in that area.

MS. MCENANY:  Well, no one was tear-gassed.  Let me make that clear.  That’s been confirmed by DOD and by Park Services, as well.

Q    But chemical agents were used.

MS. MCENANY:  So let me go back and address what happened because there’s been a lot of misreporting.


.. Q    Kayleigh, why did the President feel it was important to go and walk over there, through the park, and to the church?

MS. MCENANY:  It was extremely important.  Look, the President wanted to send a very powerful message that we will not be overcome by looting, by rioting, by burning.  This is not what defines America.  And going and standing by St John’s Church was a very important moment.

And I would note that, through all of time, we’ve seen Presidents and leaders across the world who have had leadership moments and very powerful symbols that were important for our nation to see at any given time, to show a message of resilience and determination.  Like Churchill, we saw him inspecting the bombing damage; it sent a powerful message of leadership to the British people.  And George W. Bush throwing out the ceremonial first pitch after 9/11.  And Jimmy Carter, putting on a sweater to encourage energy savings.  And George H.W. Bush signing the Americans with Disabilities Act, flanked by two disabled Americans.

And for this President, it was powerful and important to send a message that the rioters, the looters, the anarchists, they will not prevail; that burning churches are not what America is about.  And that moment, holding the Bible up, is something that has been widely hailed by Franklin Graham and others.  And it was a very important symbol for the American people to see that we will get through this, through unity and through faith.