Attorney General William Barr said the Secret Service recommended that President Donald Trump go down to the White House bunker because protests outside the executive mansion had escalated, contradicting claims by the president that he went underground for an inspection.
Last week, Trump dismissed as “false” news reports that the Secret Service rushed him to the bunker as protests over the death of George Floyd escalated outside the White House gates.
But in an interview Monday with Fox News host Bret Baier, Barr said: “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 also rejected calls to defund police departments, saying punishing an entire agency over the actions of individual officers is both “dangerous” and “wrong.”
“I understand, given the history of racial injustice, in this country why the African American community … would view the ghastly events in Minneapolis as manifestations of institutional racism in police departments,” Barr said. But, the attorney general added, police chiefs and rank-and-file officers understand the need for change. “And I think it’s dangerous to demonize the police.”
Barr’s remarks come as Minneapolis and other major cities have taken steps to either dismantle or cut chunks of funding from police agencies. Those steps follow Floyd’s death in police custody, after an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. That touched off days of protests that also saw reports and videos of police using excessive force on protesters and other citizens.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti vowed to cut as much as $150 million that was part of a planned increase in the police department’s budget, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the city would move funding from the NYPD to youth initiatives and social services, while keeping the city safe.