US President Donald Trump has served up a bizarre explanation as to why he went to an underground bunker at the White House amid protests.
Last week violent clashes broke out and Washington DC was set alight as demonstrators protested in support of Black Lives Matter after African-American George Floyd died in police custody when an officer kneeled on his neck.
Trump reportedly was ushered to the underground bunker on Friday night (local time), with CBS News reporting a senior administration official confirmed it was an act of caution.
However, in a Fox News radio interview on Wednesday (local time), the president claimed he was merely in the bunker for an “inspection”.
“I wasn’t [there]. 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,” he said.
“There was no problem during the day.”
The president continued, saying he had only been to the bunker two or three times only ever to inspect it.
"They said it would be a good time to go down and take a look because maybe sometime you're going to need it,” he said.
“We never had a problem. Nobody ever came close to giving us a problem.”
However not everybody is convinced by Trump’s flimsy excuse.
“So Trump took his wife and son with him to ‘inspect’ the bunker? Trump, can you please tell the truth! You were scared to death,” one wrote on Twitter.
“So Trump lies about the bunker? I’m so very unsurprised,” another said.
Trump mocked for seeking shelter in bunker
Reports of Trump taking shelter sparked a wave of online mockery, which is believed to have contributed to his decision to make a controversial walk across Lafayette Park to visit the partly damaged church of St John's.
On Twitter Trump bragged about being inside the White House watching every move of the secret service, with no mention of the bunker.
Great job last night at the White House by the U.S. @SecretService. They were not only totally professional, but very cool. I was inside, watched every move, and couldn’t have felt more safe. They let the “protesters” scream & rant as much as they wanted, but whenever someone....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2020
Many accused the president of hiding from protesters.
“The country is literally falling apart and our ‘leader’ is nowhere to be found,” one tweeted.
Another called him a “bunker boy” and a “coward”.
Trump responds to ‘shameful’ photo opportunity
Trump also addressed criticism of his photo opportunity earlier this week, where the military was used to push back peaceful protesters so he could pose outside St John’s Church, which had been set alight, with a bible.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told CNN is was a “shameful” act.
“I’ve seen a lot of things, but i was shocked at what they did. I was shocked at the force they used to move the protesters who could not have been more peaceful, and from their signs, all there to make legitimate points,” he said.
“It was shameful, really truly shameful.”
Trump told Fox News radio that he was unaware that protesters had to be cleared.
“When I said ‘go to the church’, I didn’t know protesters or not, nobody tells me that,” he said.
“They say: ‘Yes sir, we’ll go to the church’. I didn’t say: ‘Oh, move them out.”
Trump said church leaders loved that he went to the church with the bible.
"It's only the other side that didn't like it, you know, the opposing – the opposition party, as the expression goes," he added.
"They burned down the church the day before, I heard how nice and wonderful the protesters were over there. Really? Then why did they burn down the church the day before?"
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