Trump went to underground White House bunker 'for an inspection'?

Was Trump brought to an underground bunker for his safety on Friday? He claims otherwise, but his version of events is very hard to believe.
Image: Protesters rally at the White House on May 31, 2020.
Protesters rally at the White House on May 31, 2020.Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
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By Steve Benen

Protests around the White House were quite intense on Friday night, and there were multiple reports that the Secret Service took Donald Trump to underground bunker as a security precaution.

The reporting led many of the president's detractors to start calling him "Bunker Boy" -- among other, more colorful phrases -- which may have contributed to the decision to have him walk across Lafayette Square on Monday, as a way of proving he wasn't hiding.

Today, Trump elaborated on the matter for the first time, appearing on Fox News' Brian Kilmeade's radio show. Initially, the president denied the reports that he was brought to the underground bunker, labeling them "false." He then clarified what happened -- or at least what he'd like people to believe happened.

"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 host Brian Kilmeade. "It was much more for an inspection. There was no problem during the day." ... 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."

Oh. So on Friday, during the day, in the wake of intense protests in cities across the country, the Secret Service told the president it'd be a good time to visit the underground White House bunker, not for his protection, but simply for the heck of it, and only for a "tiny" amount of time.

Trump proceeded to give the bunker an "inspection," at which point he went about the rest of his day.

That evening, as protests outside the White House intensified, Trump wasn't brought to the bunker he'd inspected, for no apparent reason, hours earlier.

Or so the story goes.

I can't definitively prove that the president's version of events is false. It's certainly implausible, but that's not conclusive evidence.

It's worth noting, however, that the New York Times, among other outlets, reported that Secret Service agents, nervous for Trump's safety, "abruptly rushed him" to the underground bunker. The same article added, "A second official familiar with the events said the agents acted after the White House's security status was changed to 'red' amid the protests, a warning of a heightened threat. Officials said the president was never really in danger, but that he and his family were rattled by the sometimes violent protests near the White House."

That seems vastly easier to believe, but your mileage may vary.