Donald Trump has slammed reports he was rushed to the White House's safety bunker as "false", instead calling the visit an "inspection".
The US President was reportedly rushed into the White House's underground safety bunker on Friday night with his wife Melania and son Barron, as protests outside intensified and demonstrators clashed with police.
But Trump denied the media reports, telling Fox News Radio: "Well, that was a false report.
"I was there for a tiny, little short period of time. It was much more for an inspection," he said.
According to the New York Times, Secret Service bodyguards took the President into the bunker on Friday night and Fox News said he was also taken into the bunker again on Sunday, news.com.au reports.
A law enforcement official and a White House source told Bloomberg Trump had been moved into the bunker on Friday because of the intensity of the demonstrations outside the White House. Bloomberg reports that it's unclear whether the President returned to the bunker on following nights as protests continued.
Demonstrations have raged in the US for nine days after the killing of African-American man George Floyd, who was allegedly killed by police in Minneapolis.
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Four officers have been charged over the killing, which was filmed and shared on Facebook by a bystander. Floyd pleaded for his life, telling the officers repeatedly, "I can't breathe". The death has sparked outrage in the US over police brutality and systemic racism.
Reports of Trump sheltering in the bunker sparked a wave of mockery online, with #bunkerboy trending on social media and celebrities including Pink attacking the President for hiding from the American people.
The reaction is believed to have contributed to Trump's decision on Monday to make a controversial walk across Lafayette Park – just outside the White House grounds – to visit the damaged church of St John's.
Police violently dispersed mostly peaceful crowds of protesters to clear a path for Trump. On Wednesday US Defence Secretary Mark Esper sought to distance himself from his appearance at the photo opportunity.
Since Sunday, militarised police have patrolled the White House and Lafayette Park and much of the White House complex has been blocked off from the public with cyclone fencing.