Amid mounting social pressure, President Donald Trump ordered flags around the Capitol and the country were lowered Tuesday to honor the five journalists murdered last Thursday in a Maryland newsroom.
The GOP president had denied a request made last week by Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley, a Democrat, via the state’s lawmakers for Trump to order flags across the country to be lowered to honor the Capital Gazette staff members who were shot dead in their Annapolis office.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed, you know? … Is there a cutoff for tragedy?” Buckley said Monday afternoon, according to the Baltimore Sun. “This was an attack on the press. It was an attack on freedom of speech. It’s just as important as any other tragedy.”
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s chief spokeswoman, said the president ordered the flags lowered once he heard about the request. Sanders’ comment suggests the president’s top aides never notified him of the request from the Democratic mayor.
The American flag over the White House was lowered just minutes after Trump’s order was publicized.
But it will be back up by the time the capital city and others celebrate Independence Day. That’s because Trump’s order only requires flags to be lowered until “sunset, July 3, 2018.”
“Americans across the country are united in calling upon God to be with the victims and to bring aid and comfort to their families and friends,” states a presidential proclamation bearing Trump’s name blasted out by the White House Tuesday morning.
Crews soon began lowering flags over and around the Capitol complex. Though, as speaker, Paul D. Ryan had the authority to do so days earlier — presidential order or not.
“A free press, and those journalists who embody the ideals of the First Amendment,” Ryan wrote in a Tuesday tweet that came after Trump’s proclamation, “is critical to our democracy.”
A free press, and those journalists who embody the ideals of the First Amendment, is critical to our democracy. The @USCapitol flags are lowered to half-staff today in honor of the five journalists killed in the senseless attack on the Capital Gazette. pic.twitter.com/MTmb4xDamH— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) July 3, 2018