The Washington Post is reporting that Trump and his family were “rushed” to the bunker beneath the White House Friday after some protesters breached a fence outside.
The security move came after multiple people crossed over fences that had been erected to create a larger barrier around the White House complex around 7 p.m.
Secret Service officers detained at least four protesters, who were charged with unlawful entry at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, according to arrest records. The incident took place near the border between the White House lawn and Treasury Department, about 350 feet from the East Wing, and close to a Treasury fence line that has been at the center of past security failures.
The breach occurred around the time that the Secret Service alert level on the White House complex was elevated from “yellow” to “red,” according to a law enforcement official, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal safety maneuvers. Officials familiar with the incident told colleagues that the president, the first lady and their son Barron were rushed to the bunker because of the episode, according to two people familiar with their accounts.
That story contradicts a claim Trump made earlier today on Brian Kilmeade’s radio show:
Trump dismissed as “false” reports that the Secret Service rushed him into the bunker Friday night as protests inspired by the death of George Floyd escalated across the street.
“I went down during the day, and I was there for a tiny little short period of time,” he said during an interview with radio talk-show host Brian Kilmeade. “It was much more for an inspection. There was no problem during the day.”…
Trump went down to the bunker at the behest of the Secret Service in an abundance of caution, said one official familiar with the incident, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters. The official said he was only in the bunker for a short period of time.
Asked by Kilmeade if the Secret Service told him he needed to head to the bunker, Trump said, “No, they didn’t tell me that at all. They said it would be a good time to go down, take a look because maybe some time you’re going to need it.”
Trump’s claim that he went down to the bunker during the day for an inspection doesn’t make sense according to former Secret Service agents the Post spoke with. Presidents are given security briefings about the bunker early on in their tenure so President Trump would have inspected it long before last Friday.
Later in the story, the Post says Trump was taken to the bunker once before in 2017 when a man named Jonathan Tuan-Anh Tran hopped a fence and almost made it to an entrance to the White House before he was stopped.
Most of the people mocking Trump online with #BunkerBoy hashtags make it sound as if this was about personal cowardice, i.e. he got scared and wanted to hide. But if the Post story is accurate (there’s no on-the-record quote here, but for the sake of argument let’s assume) then it sounds as if Trump was taken to the bunker on the advice of Secret Service who were monitoring the security situation outside. I guess Trump could have refused their advice but they were doing their job an he went along with it.
The real story here, in my view, is that precautions taken by the Secret Service are being turned into a dumb, grade school myth about Trump being a chicken. Frankly, it’s hard to blame him for being irritated by that.