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White House Defends Monday’s Clearance Actions

Mr Trump has come in for criticism after police dispersed mostly peaceful protesters on Monday, to clear a way for him to stand outside the nearby St John’s Church clutching a Bible.

“Officers had no other choice but to take that action for their safety,” McEnany says, defending the decision to expand the security around the perimeter.

The decision was made “so that church would no longer be in harm’s way by those protesters,” she said. The St Johns church suffered a fire on Sunday night, but did not see significant damage.

She also accused protesters of throwing bricks and frozen water bottles at police. Reports from the ground said that the vast majority of protesters were peaceful.

The presiding bishop of the the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, has accused Mr Trump of using the church for “partisan political purposes”, while the Archbishop of Washington Wilton D Gregory said that the president had “manipulated” the church.

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