President Donald Trump has defended his decision to stage a photo-op outside a historic church that was caught up in the protests in Washington DC.

Police cleared a peaceful protest close by to the church with tear gas and rubber bullets on Monday evening. Moments later, Trump was pictured holding a Bible outside the church.

The move was criticised by religious leaders and top Democrats who accused officials of aggressively dispersing peaceful demonstrators for the photo-op.

But in a tweet on Tuesday, Trump said: “You got it wrong!

“If the protesters were so peaceful, why did they light the church on fire the night before? People liked my walk to this historic place of worship!”