A newspaper in Washington showed on Friday that National Park Service police had planned to clear the area around the Vietnam Veterans Memorial before President Trump took a picture there next to a pair of American and South Vietnamese soldiers.
Park police would have left the area untouched if National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis or one of his deputies had not told them to do so, said Roger Berliner, chairman of the nonprofit Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, which is building the sculpture there.
A group of congressional Democrats said the planning and discussion of the incident occurred in a conversation that occurred well before Mr. Trump’s arrival, and that Mr. Jarvis had not disclosed the plan beforehand.
Mr. Jarvis said on Friday that it was misleading to say that he had given the police direction. He said the National Park Service had issued a new policy on Memorial Day that could allow for closure of the area to accommodate so-called dignitaries such as the president.
“We’re not deliberately trying to hide it from the public,” Mr. Jarvis said in an interview. “People cannot expect parks to always comply with public demand.”
He added: “That is no more than our system can deliver. If we thought we could do this more successfully we would not hesitate to do it.”