White House compares Trump's photo op to Churchill during Blitz
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany compares President Trump's photo op outside a church across from the White House after police cleared protesters to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill assessing the damage in London during the Blitz.
Donald Trump’s press secretary has defended the US President’s photo opportunity during the height of the protests in Washington this week.
Mr Trump visited a nearby church where he held up a Bible was a “leadership moment” akin to Winston Churchill’s inspection of bomb-damaged London during World War II, said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
Throughout the year-long blitz of London by German fighter aircraft, Mr Churchill often watched the bombing raids from rooftops and he made special effort to walk the streets in places where thousands were killed.
The Trump administration has been criticised by Democrats and several Republicans, after peaceful protesters were forcibly cleared from the area around St John’s Church, where the President posed and held a Bible on Monday.
The President did not inspect damage inside the church.
Ms McEnany said Mr Trump’s stroll to St John’s Church the day after it was damaged by fire during protests was a comforting moment for Americans amid unrest spurred by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“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,” she said.
“Like Churchill, we saw him inspecting the bombing damage and it sent a powerful message of leadership to the British people.”
Ms McEnany listed other examples of presidential leadership as well: George W. Bush throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the World Series after 9/11, Jimmy Carter putting on a jumper to encourage energy savings; and George H.W. Bush signing the Americans with Disabilities Act, flanked by disabled Americans.
“For this president, it was powerful and important to send a message that the rioters, the looters, the anarchists, they will not prevail,” Ms McEnany said.
Mr Trump yesterday dismissed criticism of the church visit and suggested that the massive show of force had helped calm protests in Washington and elsewhere.
Religious leaders, including Episcopal Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, have fiercely criticised the president over the tactics used against demonstrators.
“Most religious leaders loved it,” Mr Trump said in a Fox News Radio interview.
“I heard Franklin Graham this morning thought it was great. I heard many other people think it was great. And it’s only the other side that didn’t like it.”
Mr Trump has praised the leadership of Mr Churchill before.
The President reinstalled a bust of Mr Churchill in the Oval Office shortly after his inauguration in 2017 and later that year screened the Darkest Hour, a film that recounts Mr Churchill’s early days as UK prime minister in the midst of the war.
– with wires