Trump claims he was 'inspecting' White House bunker after being mocked for 'hiding' there amid protests
Initial reports had stated the president was taken to the bunker for his own safety as George Floyd protests outside the White House intensified
President Donald Trump, on Wednesday, June 3, denied reports that he took refuge in an underground White House bunker for his safety during intense demonstrations outside his Washington residence on Friday night last week over George Floyd's death. Trump, instead, claimed that he went to the bunker during the day of the protest for "a short inspection." "It was a false report. I wasn’t down [in the bunker]," on Friday, May 29, evening, Trump said while talking to Fox News Radio host Brian Kilmeade on his show. "I went down during the day and I was there for a tiny, little short period of time and it was much more for an inspection, there was no problem during the day."
The radio host then asked Trump, referring to the Secret Service: "They didn’t say to you, ‘You have to go downstairs, my responsibility is your welfare?" The Republican leader replied with: "Nope, they didn’t tell me that at all."
The report of Secret Service agents rushing Trump to the bunker, known as the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, on Friday night was first reported by the New York Times. The outlet had stated that the president was taken to the bunker for his own safety as protests outside the White House intensified.
A senior administration official, on Sunday, May 30, told NBC News, that the president was in the bunker for a "very short period" out of an abundance of caution. He reportedly returned to the White House within an hour.
Trump's recent statement that he went to the bunker to "inspect" the area, however, contradicts the reports and his administration officials. "They told me to go down and ‘take a look’ just to check it out,” Trump said. “I can’t tell you who went with me but a whole group of people went with me, as an inspecting factor, I was back up, and Brian it was during the day, it wasn’t during the night,” Trump told Kilmeade. “I’ve gone down two or three times, all for inspection,” he said.
The Republican then called the initial reports of him taking refuge in a bunker "fake news": "During the day you have tremendous numbers of people, we didn’t even have protests. If they did it was a small crowd. But there’s so much fake news going around, Brian, you have no idea. Maybe you do, actually, have an idea.”
"There was never a problem. We never had a problem. Nobody ever came close to giving us a problem," Trump added. "The Secret Service does an unbelievable job of maintaining control of the White House, and beyond the Secret Service we have a lot of other great people out there, including the D.C. police."
The nationwide protests came as four Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd's brutal death were fired on May 26 after a video of the incident went viral on social media. The footage showed Floyd pleading with officers as one of them, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck while the 46-year-old told them to let him stand because he could not breathe. The clip showed Floyd pleading with the officer to allow him to breathe and a few minutes later he became unconscious. Floyd's death has sparked massive protests and unrest in Minneapolis and across the country. Chauvin, 44, was arrested last week on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter.