Recently, Donald Trump became one of the few US presidents who have used the White House bunker to hide from the protestors outside. But what is the history of this underground channel?
American presidents rarely use bunkers, probably because they never felt the need to. Trump, however, is a special case for many reasons.
Source: Sky News
The bunker was actually constructed in the East Wing during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s tenure due to the Pearl Harbor attack and the last time it was used was during the 9/11 attacks.
A White House official and a law enforcement source said that President Trump was taken to the underground bunker when the protests began to assemble outside the White House. Trump said that he went down for a mere “inspection” and it was not because he was afraid of the demonstrations. Remarkable timing, isn’t it?
The President stayed there for almost one hour which is surprisingly a lot of time for the inspection of just a few bunkers. First lady Melania Trump and their son, Barron were also part of the inspection team that was sent down there.
As we mentioned earlier, the bunkers were built to protect the White House against the Pearl Harbour attack. It was supposed to be an air-raid shelter instead of a bunker.
CNN contributor Garret Graff’s book Raven Rock points out that originally, Roosevelt gave orders for two projects- one was supposed to be a bunker right under the White House and one with a ramp because Roosevelt used a wheelchair.
“A White House bunker was an absolute necessity during World War II,” CNN Presidential Historian Douglas Brinkley said in an interview. “We were terrified that Germany was going to try to blow up Washington, DC. … The Germans were building rockets,” Brinkley said. “It was a bullseye, the White House.”
However, authorities felt that even the bunkers were not safe which is why Roosevelt was transported to the hidden retreat in the mountains of Maryland which no one even knew about at the time.
“Nobody knew FDR wasn’t in the White House. People were assuming he was operating out of the bunker when he was often in the Maryland woods,” Brinkley said. “There was a dual defense between having the bunker in the White House and having Camp David.”
When Nixon became the President, there were many demonstrations across the United States but he never proposed the use of those bunkers. Nixon White House Counsel John Dean wrote a book that revealed that when the president was introduced to the bomb shelter bunker, he was notified that he could hide there during political demonstrations.
According to Dean, Nixor only went there once to watch a pornographic movie starring Trixie Nixon’s wedding to Ed Cox, in drag.
After that, the bunkers were only used during 9/11 when the terrorist attacks in the States worsened.