Trump says he went to White House bunker for an ‘inspection’ amid George Floyd protests outside

‘I was there for a tiny, little period of time,’ says the president

James Crump@thejamescrump
Wednesday 03 June 2020 18:38
CNN reports that Trump's church photo op was because he was upset about being taken to a bunker

President Donald Trump has claimed that he went down to the White House bunker for an “inspection,” amid protests over the police killing of George Floyd outside the executive mansion’s gates.

It was widely reported on Friday that Mr Trump went down to the emergency bunker, created to keep the president safe, with his wife Melania and son Barron, when protesters loudly demonstrated outside the White House.

Mr Trump and his family were reportedly down in the bunker for around an hour, according to sources who spoke to CNN.

However, speaking to Brian Kilmeade of Fox and Friends on Wednesday, the president claimed that his visit to the bunker was not arranged to keep him safe from protesters.

“It was much more for the inspection,” Mr Trump told the outlet. “I was there for a tiny, little period of time."

Mr Trump claimed that he visited the bunker because his team said “it would be a good time to go down and take a look because maybe sometime you’re going to need it.”

He added that he had previously visited the bunker on two other occasions, to inspect it and to see what it was like to be in its surroundings.

Protests have taken place across the US, following the death of Mr Floyd, who died after his neck was knelt on by Derek Chauvin, who at the time was a Minneapolis police officer.

The protests, in opposition to police brutality against African Americans, started in Minneapolis, but quickly spread to cities across the US, including outside the White House.

Demonstrations became particularly intense outside the White House on Friday, when Mr Trump went down to the bunker, but according to CNN, the president became upset when people suggested he was weak for hiding from the protesters.

They reported that he then arranged a visit to the nearby St John’s Episcopal Church, as a show of strength.

His visit caused outrage, as a group of demonstrators was cleared from outside the White House with tear gas and pellets so that he could walk to the church for a photo opportunity.

In a statement to NPR about the incident, Judd Deere, the White House deputy press secretary, said: “The perimeter was expanded to help enforce the 7pm curfew in the same area where rioters attempted to burn down one of our nation’s most historic churches the night before. Protesters were given three warnings by the US Park Police.”

Before his trip to the church the president claimed that he was “your law-and-order president” and added that he supports peaceful protests – even as the sounds of the peaceful protest in Lafayette Park being violently broken up could be heard in the background.

His speech was criticised for threatening to deploy “heavily armed” military personnel to help the police with protesters.

He added: “These are not acts of peaceful protests. These are acts of domestic terror. The destruction of innocent life, and the spilling of innocent blood, is an offence to humanity and a crime against God.”

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