Donald Trump walked from the White House to nearby St. John’s Church — reportedly prompting police to use tear gas and force to clear out peaceful protesters in the nearby streets — because he was upset over media coverage of him being whisked to a bunker to hide out during protests over the weekend, a new report claims.
Trump on Monday made his first public address to the nation since unrest started last week following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The president threatened to send the U.S. military to cities not taking what he called the “necessary” actions to quell the unrest, promising the military would “quickly solve the problem for them.”
As NPR noted, at the same time that Trump was making remarks in the White House Rose Garden, police began forcefully removing protesters who had gathered in the streets and were reportedly peaceful. The report stated that officers fired tear gas and fired rubber bullets to disperse the peaceful demonstrators, with the action coming ahead of the city’s 7 p.m. curfew.
“The protesters were removed from the Lafayette Square area across from the White House, apparently to clear the way for the president to walk to St. John’s Church, where he posed briefly for photographers, holding a Bible,” NPR wrote. “Parts of the church compound were damaged by rioters on Sunday night.”
As CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins reported, Trump had decided to leave the White House grounds and into the streets where protesters had been cleared out in part because he was upset that media had reported that Secret Service moved him to a secure underground bunker as protests grew raucous late on Friday.
“President Trump was angered by coverage that he was rushed to the underground bunker during protests Friday night and told aides he wanted to be seen outside the White House gates, per @Kevinliptakcnn, leading in part to his walk to St. John’s today,” she wrote on Twitter.
Trump was widely criticized for the report that he was taken to an underground bunker, with critics saying the action didn’t match the tough rhetoric that he had been spreading on Twitter, with threats to unleash the military on protesters that had grown violent as the week went on. As The Inquisitr reported, Chinese officials and Chinese state media also mocked the president for the report — an apparent response to his criticism of crackdowns on Hong Kong protesters.