U.S. President Donald Trump denied reports on Wednesday that he was rushed to the White House bunker by the Secret Service as protests continued outside the White House Friday night, insisting that he was instead doing it to carry out an "inspection."
“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. There was no problem during the day,” Trump told Fox Radio's “Brian Kilmeade Show.”
“It was a false report. I wasn’t down,” Trump added.
Trump spent nearly an hour in the bunker, which was designed for use in emergencies like terrorist attacks, according to a Republican close to the White House who was not authorized to publicly discuss private matters and spoke on condition of anonymity. The account was confirmed by an administration official who also spoke on condition of anonymity.
On Tuesday night, Trump's reelection campaign demanded that news organizations issue "corrections" to articles reporting on security forces' use of tear gas to disperse protesters outside the White House the night before, the Washington Post reports.
Amid nationwide protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died after he was pinned at the neck by a white Minneapolis police officer, tear gas and rubber bullets were fired into crowds Monday outside the White House. Forces were trying to make way to allow Trump to walk to a nearby church for a photo-op. Shortly thereafter, the police forcefully removed hundreds of protesters from Lafayette Square, across the street from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, despite the fact that the imposed 7 P.M. curfew hadn’t yet come into effect nor were the protesters violent in any way.
In a statement released by the U.S. Park Police, the use of pepper spray was denied, claiming that "as many of the protestors became more combative, continued to throw projectiles, and attempted to grab officers’ weapons, officers then employed the use of smoke canisters and pepper balls."
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According to the Post, Trump's campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said neither the U.S. Park Police " nor any of their law enforcement partners, used tear gas to quell rising violence.”
“Every news organization which reported the tear gas lie should immediately correct or retract its erroneous reporting,” he added.
The Post further reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the chemical compounds fired at protests were in fact tear gas.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.