Politics

Trump admits he went to White House bunker during George Floyd protests, but claims it was just for a brief 'inspection'

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump denied multiple news reports that he took refuge in an underground White House bunker Friday night during intense protests outside the building over George Floyd's death.
  • Trump claimed he only visited the bunker during the day for "a short inspection."
  • "It was a false report. I wasn't down [in the bunker]," on Friday evening, Trump said on Fox News host Brian Kilmeade's radio show.
President Donald Trump walks into the Rose Garden at the White House May 29, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee | Getty Images

President Donald Trump on Wednesday denied multiple news reports that he took refuge for his personal safety in an underground White House bunker Friday night during intense protests outside the building over George Floyd's death, claiming he only visited the bunker during the day for "a short inspection."

"It was a false report. I wasn't down [in the bunker]," on Friday evening, Trump said on Fox News Radio host Brian Kilmeade's 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 president said.

Kilmeade, referring to the Secret Service, asked Trump: "They didn't say to you, 'You have to go downstairs, my responsibility is your welfare?'"

The president replied, "Nope, they didn't tell me that at all."

The New York Times first reported that Secret Service agents rushed Trump to the bunker, also known as the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, on Friday night as protests outside the White House grew hotter.

A senior administration official told NBC News on Sunday that Trump was in the bunker for a "very short period" out of an abundance of caution. Trump returned to his residence in the White House within an hour, the official said.

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President Trump and first lady visit St. John Paul II national shrine

But Trump said that the only reason he ever went down to the bunker in recent days was to "inspect" the area, at the suggestion of the Secret Service as days of protests continued over the death of Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on Memorial Day.

"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.

A U.S. flag flies at over the darkened White House during protests against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Washington, U.S. June 1, 2020.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

"I've gone down two or three times, all for inspection," he said.

The president added that, "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," Trump said. "Maybe you do, actually, have an idea."

The president also said, "There was never a problem. We never had a problem. Nobody ever came close to giving us a problem."

"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," Trump added.

White House spokesman Judd Deere, when asked about Trump's comments Wednesday, said, "The White House does not comment on security protocols and decisions." 

Trump's press secretary Kayleigh McEnany later said at a briefing with reporters, "I won't go further than what the president said …[because] security matters."

Secret Service spokeswoman Justine Whelan told CNBC that "for operational security reasons, the U.S. Secret Service does not discuss our protectees or our protective means and methods."