Republicans Won’t Even Criticize Trump for Gassing Protesters for a Photo Op

How hard is this to condemn?

Jay Mallin/Zuma

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On Tuesday, federal law enforcement officials gassed peaceful protesters so President Donald Trump could have a photo op. The crackdown in Washington’s Lafeyette Park earned widespread condemnation, including from former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen and from the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, but the bizarre photo op which followed, during which the president wielded someone else’s Bible as a prop (“Is that your Bible?” “It’s a Bible.”) made some Christians happy as clams.

And Republicans? Well, for the most part, they either loved the whole show, or have never heard of Donald Trump but would like everyone to know that The Left Is Bad.

“I didn’t watch it closely enough to know,” said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) thinks the only abuse of power came from the protesters (who were exercising their First Amendment rights to free assembly). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused, as usual, to critique the president. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) mustered up, “Violence is scary.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) issued a lukewarm condemnation, saying last night’s events were “not the America that I know.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) defended the president’s actions, telling CNN that it would be “okay” to use force against the protesters if police expected even five percent of them to be violent. In a tweet, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called protesters “professional agitators” who intentionally stayed out past curfew to “trigger police action.”

So far, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has called it as he saw it:

“To Trump, the Bible and the church are not symbols of faith, The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins wrote of the incident. “They are weapons of culture war.”

Tear gas is also one of those weapons. And Senate Republicans apparently wouldn’t have it any other way. 

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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