Secret Service agents on Friday night rushed President Trump and his family to an underground bunker in the White House used in years past to protect against the possibility of terrorist attacks while protests raged across the street over George Floyd’s death.
Trump and his family were left ‘rattled’ by the episode, though it is not clear what specifically prompted the Secret Service to take the extraordinary measure, The New York Times reported.
Minutes after the Times posted its story, Trump tweeted: ‘FAKE NEWS!’
Judd Deere, a White House spokesperson, told DailyMail.com on Sunday: ‘The White House does not comment on security protocols and decisions.’
In times of emergency, the Secret Service will quickly move the president into an underground area of the White House known as the Presidential Emergency Operations Center.
President Trump (seen above at the White House on Saturday) was rushed to a secret underground bunker by the Secret Service on Friday night while hundreds protested the death of George Floyd across from the White House
The underground bunker, also known as the President's Emergency Operations Center, has been rarely used since the early days of the 'war on terror.' The above image shows then-Vice President Dick Cheney (right) and then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (left) inside the bunker on September 11, 2001, moments after terrorists hijacked four airliners
Minutes after it was revealed that the president was rushed to an underground bunker on Friday, he tweeted: 'FAKE NEWS!'
The underground bunker was where then-Vice President Dick Cheney was rushed to on September 11, 2001, when terrorists hijacked four commercial airlines.
Two planes hit the World Trade Center, one rammed into the Pentagon, and another was brought down in Pennsylvania.
There were fears that one of the planes was aiming for the White House, which led the Secret Service to seek to protect Cheney.
George W. Bush, who was president on that day, was not in Washington, DC.
In April 2005, Bush was rushed to the bunker due to fears that a suspicious plane was headed to the White House. This turned out to be a false alarm.
In the years since 9/11, the bunker has been fortified to withstand the impact of a jetliner crashing into the White House.
According to the Times, Trump, his family, and his aides ‘seemed taken off guard’ by the sight of hundreds of protesters surging toward Secret Service and United States Park Police officers just across the street from the White House on Friday.
At no time was Trump or anyone inside the building in any real danger, according to the Times.
A protester runs away with a police baton he snatched from a policeman during scuffles in the vicinity of the White House on Sunday
Police and an anarchist clash during at Lafayette Park near the White House during a protest amid nationwide unrest following the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd
An anarchist reacts to the camera during a protest in Washington, DC, on Sunday
The area around the White House has been teeming with protesters in recent days
Milk is poured into a demonstrator's eyes to neutralize the effect of pepper spray during a rally at Lafayette Park near the White House on Sunday
Demonstrators gathered at Lafayette Park near the White House in Washington to protest the death of George Floyd put their hands up during a rally on Sunday
On Saturday, Trump tried to project defiance, warning that protesters near the White House would be attacked by ‘vicious dogs’ and ‘ominous weapons’ if they broke through the barricades.
Some of the protesters threw bottles and bricks at the officers who had erected a barricade to separate themselves from the demonstrators.
The mayhem outside the White House continued all throughout the weekend.
Police fired pepper spray at demonstrators near the White House and the D.C. National Guard was called in as pockets of violence and vandalism erupted on Saturday.
Hundreds of people converged on the White House and marched along the National Mall, chanting ‘Black Lives Matter,’ ‘I can’t breathe’ and ‘No justice, no peace.’
Police were in tactical gear. The DC National Guard was activated at the direction of the secretary of the Army and at the request of the Park Police to help maintain order near the White House, Commanding Gen. William J. Walker said in a post on the Guard’s Facebook page.
While some protesters stayed near the White House, others marched through the streets chanting, 'No justice and no peace' and 'Say his name: George Floyd.'
The mood was angry and several speakers implored marchers to remain peaceful.
The march paused between the the Washington Monument and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Demonstrators sat down in the street for a moment of silence lasting for the eight minutes or more that the Minneapolis police officer reportedly knelt on Floyd’s neck.
People run during a protest near the White House in Washington, DC, on Sunday
Law enforcement officers from Calvert County Maryland Sheriff's Office standing on the Ellipse, just south of the White House in Washington, DC, as they watch demonstrators protest the death of George Floyd, on Sunday
People who gathered to protest the death of George Floyd scuffle with Metropolitan Police District officers near the White House on Sunday
A demonstrator lifts his arms and approaches Metropolitan Police District officers near the White House on Sunday
Protesters and officers scuffled near the White House in Washington, DC, on Sunday
One protester is seen shoving a police officer holding a shield near the White House in Washington, DC, on Sunday
Washington, DC's mayor, Muriel Bowser, announced a city-wide curfew that will go into effect at 11pm local time on Sunday
At the Lincoln Memorial, one organizer spoke over a megaphone.
'Look to the left and to the right and thank that person. We can’t hug anybody because of COVID, but I love you anyway.'
Many of the protesters wore masks, but did not socially distance themselves.
Another group circled through the Capitol Hill neighborhood for at least an hour in cars, honking. A helicopter hovered overhead.
In a series of tweets earlier Saturday, Trump doubted protesters’ allegiance to Floyd’s memory, saying they were 'professionally managed.'
He offered no evidence to back his assertion, and the president even seemed to invite supporters to make their presence felt: 'Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???'
Trump later rejected the suggestion that he was stoking a potential conflict between protesters and his supporters.
'I was just asking. But I have no idea if they are going to be here,' he said.
'MAGA is Make America Great Again. By the way, they love African American people. They love black people.'
At Saturday’s demonstration, there was no evidence of a counter-move by Trump supporters.
Trump said he had 'watched every move' from inside the executive mansion during Friday’s protest and 'couldn’t have felt more safe' as the Secret Service let the protesters carry on, 'but whenever someone ... got too frisky or out of line, they would quickly come down on then, hard — didn’t know what hit them.'
The president also criticized the mayors of Washington and Minneapolis.
Trump said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey 'is probably a very good person, but he’s a radical, left mayor.'
He then described how he watched as a police station in the city was overrun.
'For that police station to be abandoned and taken over, I’ve never seen anything so horrible and stupid in my life,' Trump said when speaking briefly to reporters at the White House.
He said Minnesota officials have to get tougher with rioters, and that by doing so they would be honoring the memory of Floyd.
The Secret Service said in a statement Saturday that six protesters were arrested in Washington and 'multiple" officers were injured.
There were no details on the charges or nature of the injuries.
A spokesman for US Park Police said their officers made no arrests, but several suffered minor injuries and one was taken to a hospital after being struck in the helmet by a projectile.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Saturday called the protesters 'criminals' who committed 'acts of violence while hiding behind their First Amendment right of lawful protest.'
Late Saturday and early Sunday, protesters vented their rage by breaking into tony shops of Georgetown, on the western edge of the District, and in downtown Washington, breaking windows and glass doors of many stores and looting some of them.
In his tweeting, Trump claimed that many Secret Service agents were 'just waiting for action' and ready to unleash 'the most vicious dogs, and the most ominous weapons, I have ever seen.'
His reference to 'vicious dogs' potentially being sicced on protesters revisits images from the civil rights movement when marchers faced snarling police dogs and high-pressure fire hoses.
In a news conference Saturday afternoon, Muriel Bowser, mayor of the nation’s capital, called Trump’s remarks 'gross' and said the reference to attack dogs conjures up with the worst memories of the nation’s fight against segregation.
'I call upon our city and our nation to exercise restraint, great restraint, even as the president tries to divide us,' she said.
In contrast with the president’s tweets, the Secret Service said it 'respects the right to assemble and we ask that individuals do so peacefully for the safety of all.'
Social media video and images show protests and demonstrations continuing near the White House on Sunday evening.
Bowser announced a curfew beginning at 11pm local time on Sunday and stretching until 6am on Monday.
Bowser also announced that she was activating the DC National Guard to aid the Metropolitan Police Department.