President Donald J. Trump, seen through a window, watches a television in the press office as newscasters talk about him moments after he was speaking with members of the coronavirus task force during a briefing in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Arrest records and officials contradict Trump's claim that he only went to bunker for "inspection"

“It was a false report," Trump claimed. "It was much more for an inspection"



Igor Derysh
June 4, 2020 7:18PM (UTC)

President Donald Trump attempted to edit real-life like an episode of "The Apprentice" by claiming that he was only in the White House bunker amid protests over the death of George Floyd in order to "inspect it."

But sources told The Washington Post that the president and his family were rushed to the underground bunker after a group of protesters breached White House barriers, and arrest records also back up those claims.

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Trump, first lady Melania Trump and their son Barron were taken to the underground bunker underneath the White House on Friday for a little under an hour, The New York Times first reported.

Trump was "angered" by the reports, which led him to stage a photo-op Monday in front of a nearby church, prompting officials to tear gas peaceful protesters to clear Lafayette Park, multiple outlets reported.

Trump on Wednesday tried to spin the incident as just an "inspection."

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"It was a false report. I wasn't down. 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," Trump claimed in a radio interview with "Fox & Friends" co-host Brian Kilmeade. "There was no problem during the day . . . And these problems are during the night not during the day."

Trump insisted that he regularly inspects the bunker.

"I go down. I've gone down two or three times, all for inspection. And you go there — someday you may need it," he claimed. "But you go there, and I went down. I looked at it. It was during the day. It was not a problem, and I read about it It was like a big thing. There was never a problem. We never had a problem. Nobody ever came close to giving us a problem."

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"So you're telling me, Mr. President, they didn't say to you, 'You have to go downstairs. My responsibility is your welfare?' They didn't limit you at all in the house?" Kilmeade pressed.

"Nope, they didn't tell me that at all," Trump insisted. "But they said it would be a good time to go down. 'Take a look, because maybe sometime you're going to need it' . . . I was down for a very very short period of time — very, very short period of time. 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. I think they reported during the night."

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But law enforcement officials and sources familiar with the incident told The Washington Post that Trump's story was complete bunk.

Trump was rushed to the bunker with Melania and Barron after a group of protesters breached temporary barricades set up to keep protesters away at around 7 p.m., according to arrest records and sources. The Secret Service detained at least four protesters, who were charged with unlawful entry at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., the address of the White House, arrest records show.

The breach came around the same time that the Secret Service raised its alert level at the White House from "yellow" to "red," a law enforcement official told the outlet. Officials familiar with the incident told colleagues that Trump, Melania and Barron were rushed to the bunker after breach, The Post reported.

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Two of the people arrested in the breach told the outlet they were "stunned" their actions were linked to the bunker episode.

"I didn't even realize what I did was illegal," one of the protesters said. "I stepped over a barricade. I never got onto the Treasury grounds or White House grounds."


Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is a staff writer at Salon. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

Tips/Email: iderysh@salon.com Twitter: @IgorDerysh

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