The Secret Service recommended that President Donald Trump go into the White House bunker as violent demonstrations and riots raged in Washington, Attorney General William Barr said.
Recounting what took place on June 1, Barr said: “We were reacting to three days of extremely violent demonstrations right across from the White House. A lot of injuries to police officers, arson.”
“Things were so bad that the Secret Service recommended the president go down to the bunker,” he added. “We cant have that in our country.”
Barr was speaking to Fox News Bret Baier in an interview that aired on Monday night.
Trump, a Republican, said last week in an interview on Fox News radio that he did go to the bunker but insisted he was there to inspect it, not for refuge.
The president said a report describing his descent into the bunker as driven by fear for his personal safety was false, adding: “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.”
Pressed on whether the Secret Service told him he had to go to the bunker, Trump said: “No. They didnt tell me that at all, but they said it would be a good time to go down. Take a look because maybe sometime youre going to need it.”
“I was down for a very, very short period of time. Very, very short period of time. I cant 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 wasnt during the night. I think they reported during the night. During the night maybe someday it makes sense. During the day you have tremendous numbers of people. We didnt even have protestors, or if they did it was a small crowd,” Trump said later.
Barr, in the new interview, defended having law enforcement push protesters away from the White House, which was followed by Trump walking to nearby St. Johns Church.
The decision to move the perimeter a block away was made by the Park Police in the early morning hours of Monday before being affirmed by Barr and other officials. They wanted to fortify the area with stronger fencing. The plan was executed at 2 p.m.