An entirely peaceful protest was gathering outside the White House on Monday night when it was broken up with a volley of tear gas and some of the most aggressive policing I have yet seen here.

The reason was even more disturbing.

The president wanted to be seen visiting a local church at the epicenter of the unrest.

To achieve that presidential photo-op, the rally was dispersed by troops and police.

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Donald Trump then walked out of the White House and held the single most bizarre appearance of his presidency.

He stood outside the church holding up a Bible, declaring that America was the greatest country in the world.

Sirens were still audible.

Tear gas was only just dispersing.

Hundreds of soldiers were being deployed on Washington's streets.

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Trump is now reframing this presidency in a way that will outrage many people of all political persuasions.

What we heard from the south lawn of the White House was not the language of America, but of Russia and China.

Trump declared that he is the president of law and order, accusing the protesters of being in the grip of "professional anarchists, violent mobs, criminals, looters, and criminals".

Still more alarmingly, he said the "violent" protests were "acts of domestic terror".

He threatened to put military troops on the streets in states all across the country.

  • "This is peaceful and yet they still don't care"

It is far from clear that he has the constitutional right to put soldiers on the street to quell protests.

With such incendiary language, there seems almost no chance now that these protests will be quickly extinguished.

America appears to be heading down a very dark and dangerous road.