Patricia and Mark McCloskey confront protesters.
Maybe it is their love of suing people over neighborly disagreements or their absolute fury at the sight of Black Lives Matter protesters. Possibly, it is their dedication to repeating a narrative easily contradicted by video. Or their steadfast identification as victims, even while wielding wealth and power. Maybe Donald Trump just likes their instinct to choose guns as a first resort.
Whatever the reason, the president supports married St. Louis attorneys Mark and Patricia McCloskey, says Missouri Governor Mike Parson.
"I think the president didn't like what he's seeing and the way these people were being treated," Parson said, explaining that he'd just gotten off a phone call with Trump. "I know the attorney general was represented in that phone call today, so I think you'll see some kind of actions — I think they're going look into it."
The McCloskeys were little-known residents of a Central West End mansion until June 28, when protesters marched onto Portland Place on their way to Mayor Lyda Krewson's house. Mark McCloskey would later say in television interviews an angry mob smashed through a gate to the private street and would have surely stormed the couple's home, murdered them and set the house ablaze if he had not held the marauders at bay with his rifle.
That's not how it played out in a video that showed the McCloskeys respond to people walking past his house on the street by screaming at them and brandishing his gun. Patricia McCloskey strode out on the lawn, aiming a pistol at people on the sidewalk.
In a devastating profile
over the weekend, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
reporter Jeremy Kohler revealed a long history of the couple suing or threatening to sue people — including family members and neighbors — over property. In at least one case, they cited an incident in which Mark McCloskey ordered a neighbor off a disputed triangle of grass at gunpoint as an example of them asserting possession of land that belonged to the homeowner's association.
So the showdown with protesters wasn't exactly out of character, but it was the first to draw worldwide attention, thanks to a wealth of videos and photographs of the gun-wielding couple.
"That couple had every right to defend their property," Parson said at this afternoon's briefing on ... the state's response to the coronavirus.
Pressed for proof that protesters were actually on the couple's property, the governor said he didn't have all the facts. However, he was sure that the McCloskeys were right and St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner had to be stopped.
Gardner has not filed any charges against the McCloskeys but has said she is investigating their actions on June 28. On Friday, an attorney for the couple confirmed investigators had seized a rifle through a search warrant.
Parson says the McCloskeys' actions were protected under the state's Castle Doctrine, which he championed during his time in the legislature.
"What they should not go through is a prosecutor attempting to take their constitutional rights away by filing charges against them for protecting their property," Parson said.
The governor lamented that it is "very difficult" to remove an elected official from office, apparently meaning Gardner, but said that was something state lawmakers should address in a future legislative session. He added that he explained to Trump that his powers as governor were limited in forcing out officials.
"We got to explain to him why it's very difficult for an elected official in the state, for a governor ... how you can remove someone from office — what powers you have as a governor," Parson said. "I don't want to make it sound like he's going to come in here and remove somebody from office, but I guarantee you the president is focused on what's happening here."
Update: Gardner released a statement this evening in response to Trump and Parson:
"Today, both the Governor and Donald Trump came after me for doing my job and investigating a case. While they continue to play politics with the handling of this matter, spreading misinformation and distorting the truth, I refuse to do so. As I always do, I am reviewing all the available facts and the law and will apply them equally, regardless of the people involved.
"It is unbelievable the Governor of the state of Missouri would seek advice from one of the most divisive leaders in our generation to overpower the discretion of a locally elected prosecutor. It is also incredible that at a time when our nation is dealing with a rapidly spreading deadly virus and our State reported a record number of new infections, they are launching these dog-whistle attacks against me. They should be focused on their jobs, and I’ll focus on mine."
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