Watch CBS News

Barr says Secret Service recommended Trump go to bunker for security, not to inspect it

Trump's visit to church sparks outrage
Trump's visit to a Washington church sparks outrage 09:17

Attorney General Bill Barr on Monday appeared to contradict President Trump's earlier comments about why he visited an underground bunker as protests raged outside the White House. Mr. Trump said he visited the bunker briefly for more of an "inspection," but Barr told Fox News' Bret Baier on Monday that the Secret Service recommended the president go underground.

Barr made the comments in defense of the forceful expansion of the perimeter near the White House last week.

"Things were so bad that the Secret Service recommended the president go down to the bunker. We can't have that in our country," Barr told Baier.

Asked about the apparent discrepancy between Barr's story and the president's, the White House said it doesn't discuss security protocols.

"The White House does not comment on security protocols and decisions," said White House spokesman Judd Deere.

Before the president confirmed his visit to the bunker, a senior administration official told CBS News the president visited the bunker briefly out of an abundance of caution.

The president told Fox News' Brian Kilmeade in a radio interview last week that he went down "during the day" for a "short period of time," and "more for an inspection." When Kilmeade then gave the president a chance to clarify, the president stuck with the inspection line.

KILMEADE: "So Mr. President, I remember in 9/11 that President Bush wanted to land back at Washington. They wouldn't let him. They said it's too dangerous. Finally got him back there. Sometimes the Secret Service even tells the president, I can't do this. So you're telling me, Mr. President, they didn't say to you, you have to go downstairs. My responsibility's your welfare. They didn't limit you at all in the House?"

MR. TRUMP: "No. They didn't tell me that at all, but they said it would be a good time to go down. Take a look because maybe sometime you're going to need it. And I've been down, let's see, that'll be number two. Two and a half sort of because I've done different things, but two and a half, but I looked. I was down for a very, very short period of time. Very, very short period of time. I can't tell you who went with me, but a whole group of people went with me. As an inspecting factor, I was back up."

Barr's comments to Baier came after the White House said he ordered the forceful removal of protesters at Lafayette Park last Monday so Mr. Trump could go to St. John's Church for a photo op. Barr later said he did not order the clearing but he approved of it.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.