President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, and their son Barron were rushed to a secure bunker last Friday night after several protesters breached the barricades near the White House lawn, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
Four individuals involved in the ongoing demonstrations over police brutality hopped over the temporary fences near the border between the White House lawn and Treasury Department and were detained by the Secret Service, according to arrest records reviewed by The Post.
The barricade breach raised the alert level at the White House from “yellow” to “red,” prompting the first family to be escorted to the bunker by Secret Service, according to people familiar with the incident.
This new reporting is at odds with Trump’s Wednesday claim that reports that he was taken to the bunker for his safety amid the protests were “false,” and that he instead visited the bunker simply to inspect it.
“I was there for a tiny, short little period of time,” Trump said in a Fox News Radio interview. “They said it would be a good time to go down and take a look because maybe sometime you’re going to need it.”
One of the arrested protesters, who spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity amid pending charges, said they “didn’t even realize what I did was illegal.”
“I stepped over a barricade,” the protester told The Post. “I never got onto the Treasury grounds or White House grounds.”
White House spokesman Judd Deere told Business Insider in a statement, “The White House does not comment on security protocols and decisions.”
The Secret Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
During her Wednesday afternoon press conference, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany refused to answer a question about what the president was inspecting in the bunker because she said that involved security matters she was not at liberty to discuss.
Trump tweeted out a string of attacks on the protesters and Democratic mayors and governors over the weekend and warned that the Secret Service was “just waiting for action.”
“Big crowd, professionally organized, but nobody came close to breaching the fence. If they had they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen,” Trump wrote on Saturday.
Multiple news outlets reported on Sunday night that Trump was kept in the bunker for just under an hour during Friday night’s protests.
Officials told The New York Times that they never believed the president was in danger but took the precaution as tensions escalated.
And new reports surfaced on Tuesday that media coverage of his bunker visit helped motivate the president to stage a controversial photo-op outside St. John’s church near the White House on Monday night. Law enforcement violently dispelled peaceful protesters outside the White House to make way for the president to leave his residence and pose with a bible outside the church.