Former President Donald Trump allegedly wanted anyone involved in the leaking of his White House bunker retreat in May 2020 “executed” for sharing details of his response with the public.
When reports initially spread that the previous first family, including then first lady Melania Trump and their son Barron, were taken to shelter for just under an hour as George Floyd protests made their way to the White House gates, Trump dismissed them and clarified that his bunker visit was a security checkup and nothing more. “They said it would be a good time to go down and take a look because maybe sometime you’re going to need it,” he said, continuing “I was there for a tiny, short little period of time.” Noting it was “more for an inspection.”
According to “Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost,” a book penned by senior Wall Street Journal White House reporter Michael Bender, the former president’s actual response to news of his reaction was rage. Trump was allegedly so incensed that the story had gotten out that he demanded the leakers be “charged with treason” and “executed.”
“Trump boiled over about the bunker story as soon as they arrived and shouted at them to smoke out whoever had leaked it. It was the most upset some aides had ever seen the president,” Bender writes, according to CNN. “‘Whoever did that, they should be charged with treason!’ Trump yelled. ‘They should be executed!'”
The book added that “those who said they’d heard the president issue that warning had interpreted the outburst as a sign of a president in panic.”
Following the outburst, the book alleges that then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows “repeatedly tried to calm the president as startled aides avoided eye contact,” and reassured Trump that “I’m on it. We’re going to find out who did it.”
Unable to let the issue go, Trump “repeatedly asked Meadows if he’d found the leaker,” which in turn led to Meadows becoming “obsessed” with tracking the offending party.
Trump’s chief spokeswoman Liz Harrington denied the book’s claims, telling CNN that the former President “never said this or suggested it to anyone.”
Bender’s book, released July 13, is a detailed account of Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign that explores how he became the first incumbent in three decades to lose reelection. The deeply reported write-up includes “fresh interviews with Trump, key campaign advisers, and senior administration officials are paired with an exclusive collection of internal campaign memos, emails, and text messages for scores of never-before-reported details about the campaign.”