President Trump denied that he was taken to an underground White House bunker during tumultuous protests in Washington D.C. this past weekend and pushed back on criticism of his walk Monday to the historic St. John's Episcopal Church.
In an interview Wednesday on the "Brian Kilmeade Show," the president said that the mainstream media was to blame for both narratives.
"Well, it was a false report. I wasn't [there]. 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," he remarked.
"There was no problem during the day. The problem -- I saw Leland [Vitter] got whacked pretty good, but that was during the night. And, this problem, these problems are during the night -- not during the day."
SECRET SERVICE AGENTS WOUNDED OUTSIDE WHITE HOUSE, CAR BOMBS FEARED; OFFICIAL SAYS TRUMP WAS TAKEN TO BUNKER
According to a report in the New York Times, Secret Service agents had "abruptly rushed the president to the underground bunker used in the past during terrorist attacks."
A senior administration official confirmed the information to Fox News after The New York Times first reported the story on Sunday.
The president explained he had only ever visited the bunker two or three times and "all for inspection" because "someday [he] may need it."
"And, I read about it like [it was] a big thing. There was never a problem. We never had a problem. Nobody ever came close to giving us a problem," he assured.
He told Kilmeade that while the Secret Service did not escort him anywhere for his safety, they said it "would be a good time to go down [and] take a look."
President Donald Trump walks past police in Lafayette Park after visiting outside St. John's Church across from the White House Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington. Part of the church was set on fire during protests on Sunday night. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Trump also argued against eyewitness accounts Monday night of tear-gassing and beating protesters and members of the media who hindered his pathway to St. John's Church across the street.
“Seeing President Trump stand in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church while holding a Bible in response to calls for racial justice — right after using military force to clear peaceful protesters out of the area — is one of the most flagrant misuses of religion I have ever seen,” Interfaith Alliance President Rabbi Jack Moline said in a statement. "This only underscores the president’s complete lack of compassion for Black Americans and the lethal consequences of racism.”
The Right Rev. Mariann Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, to which St. John’s belongs, said she was “outraged” by the moment and noted that Trump didn’t pray during his visit.
"Well, my response is simple: most religious leaders loved it," Trump noted, citing positive reactions from Franklin Graham and Robert Jeffress.
"And, it's on the other side that didn't like it. You know, the opposition party, as the expression goes. They burned down the church the day before. I heard how nice and wonderful the protesters were over there. Really? Then why did they burn down the church the day before?" he asked.
The president also denied knowledge of whether or not there were protesters surrounding the area.
CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP
"Nobody tells me that," he noted.
"It was very fast. I think it was very symbolic. I did hold up a Bible. I think that's a good thing, not a bad thing. And, many religious leaders loved it," Trump affirmed.
"Why wouldn't they love it? I'm standing in front of a church that went through trauma."