(summer 2020 background)
Of the Secret Service whisking him and his family into a bunker underneath the White House amid protests outside the building on Friday night, Trump said this:“Well it was a false report. I was 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.””I’ve gone down two or three times, all for inspection. And, you go there, some day you may need it. I went down. I looked at it. It was during the day, and it was not a problem. And I read about it, in like, a big thing. There was never a problem … nobody ever came close to giving us a problem.””…They said it would be a good time to go down, take a look, because maybe some time you’re going to need it.”This re-framing of history is remarkable solely for the gall it takes to attempt it. After all, every single major media organization reported over the weekend — with NO pushback from the White House — that Trump had been taken into the bunker for his own protection, not to, uh, “inspect” it.Here’s how CNN reported it:“As protesters gathered outside the White House Friday night in Washington, DC, President Donald Trump was briefly taken to the underground bunker for a period of time, according to a White House official and a law enforcement source.”The President was there for a little under an hour before being brought upstairs.”A law enforcement source and another source familiar with the matter tell CNN that first lady Melania Trump and their son, Barron, were also taken to the bunker.”The law enforcement source familiar with protocol said that if authorities moved Trump, they would move all protectees, meaning Melania and Barron.”The second source told CNN that ‘if the condition at the White House is elevated to RED and the President is moved’ to the Emergency Operations Center ‘Melania Trump, Barron Trump and any other first family members would be moved as well.'”The facts are simply not under dispute.So, why would Trump describe it falsely to Fox? Especially when there are a few other things going on in the country — most notably ongoing protests over the murder of a black man at the hands of police in Minneapolis and a global pandemic that has killed 106,000 Americans and is projected to kill 135,000 by early August.Simple. There is nothing Trump hates more than weakness. And the image of him cowering in an underground bunker while protesters stood outside the gates of the White House is simply not something he cannot accept. This is a man who has been telling himself a story of his life — one in which he is always the toughest, the smartest and the winner-est — for, well, his entire adult life.While his image of toughness and strength is deeply warped, it is all he has. It is the building block on which Trump has built a person and a career — in and out of politics.It’s why he wanted to clear protesters out of Lafayette Park, stroll across H Street and hold up a Bible in front of the historic St. John’s Church — all the while flocked by a phalanx of law enforcement officials. It’s why he tells governors that they need to “dominate” the streets against protesters and says things like “I am your President of law and order.” And it’s why he feels the need to suggest, within the friendly confines of Fox News, that he was really only going down to the bunker to “inspect” it.He could have gone anytime, of course! It was just a coincidence he was down there amid the protests outside the White House! Just going down to make sure all the buttons worked! All the brass was sufficiently polished! And the like.I mean, as I said above, its farcical on its very face. Most people — presidents or not — wouldn’t be able to pull of saying it with a straight face, knowing how ridiculous it would sound to, well, almost everyone.Trump is, of course, not most people. Which is a fact that he reminds us of every single day he resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.