President Trump and the first lady visited the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Northeast Washington, DC, Tuesday, a day after Trump appeared at looting damaged St. John’s Episcopal Church.
The president and Melania Trump walked from the building about 11:45 a.m. onto a large outdoor patio, turned and faced the assembled media and posed for a photo.
They then turned around and stood for several minutes before the statue of the late pontiff, where a wreath had been laid earlier, before walking back inside the building without speaking or taking questions.
John Paul II served as Pope from 1978 to 2005, and was declared a saint by the Roman Catholic Church in April 2014. The effort to erect the shrine was spearheaded by the Knights of Columbus, a lay Roman Catholic organization.
A day earlier, Trump gave an address in the Rose garden advocating the use of the US military to quell riots and unrest over the death of George Floyd.
After the address, Trump walked out of the front of the White House gates, through Lafayette Park to historic St. John’s Episcopal Church, which was partly destroyed by a fire lit by rioters Sunday evening, and stood for several moments holding a Bible aloft.
Trump’s visit to St. John’s came after National Parks police cleared the park area of more than a thousand protesters following days of unrest across the nation over the death of Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
The president has lashed out at critics, including New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo, of his handling of the violence and looting sweeping many American cities over Floyd’s death, which came as the country was already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic fallout.
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