That quote is from Attorney General William Barr.
If you are confused (is it a physical irritant? it seems chemical, it's not sandpaper), then I can confirm, yes, it is a chemical irritant. It's a lie.
But it's weird – even for a government lie. They've lied about facts before. They've lied about bad things they did before. They've censored science that doesn't promote their politics. They've said people they hurt very badly 'accidentally fell', even when there is video of them being pushed or hit.
They've lied about important facts in the lead up to a war. More than once.
But this one is new. It's not just that it's a lie (which it is – there's no way he wasn't aware of this). It's not that it's a brazen lie. It's not even weird for a government official to tell a lie so absurd they are insulting you by imagining, even for a second, that you would believe their arrogant and disgusting lie.
It's that, nobody will believe him anyway. Plenty of Donald Trump supporters will believe Trump's lies. But I can't imagine someone truly believing this. Any normal human understands what pepper spray is.
I find myself confused. He made sure to make this point.
I don't like people lying. I think government officials should be held to an even higher standard than that. I'd prefer I at least understood why someone would lie, or know there's no reason – knowing someone is a habitual liar means I now have a responsibility to make sure I never hear what they have to say, which is doable.
But this one is a puzzler. And I'm worried. Bill Barr does things for reasons – not noble ones, not most of the time, but his actions are (largely) intentional. I can't stop worrying about the terrible purpose for such a strange lie.