Washington (CNN) — Then-President Donald Trump told several of his advisers in 2020 that whoever had leaked information about his stay in the White House bunker in May of that year had committed treason and should be executed for sharing details about the episode with the press, according to excerpts from a new book, obtained by CNN, from The Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender.
Trump, along with then-first lady Melania Trump and her son Barron, were taken to the underground bunker for a time, during the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police, as protesters gathered outside the building.
Bender writes in the book, entitled “Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost”, that Trump, in the days following his stay in the bunker, held a tense meeting with senior military, the forces of the order and advisers from the West Wing, in which he aired his complaints about the leak.
“Trump exploded over the bunker story as soon as they arrived and yelled at them to fume at whoever had leaked it. It was the most angry moment some aides had seen in the president,” Bender writes.
‘Whoever did that, should be charged with treason! yelled Trump. “They should be executed,” the book says.
Then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows “repeatedly tried to calm the president while shocked advisers avoided eye contact,” Bender writes. He added that Trump’s top adviser told his boss: “I’m on it. Let’s find out who did it.”
“A President in Panic”
Trump, furious at the leak for days, “repeatedly asked Meadows if he had found the person responsible for the leak.” His top adviser became “obsessed” with finding the source, according to the book. It notes that “those who said they heard the president issue that warning had interpreted the outburst as a sign of a panicked president.”
CNN reported at the time that Trump had been taken to the bunker and was there for just under an hour before returning to the upper deck. A source familiar with the matter had also told CNN that “if the condition in the White House rises to red and the president is transferred” to the Emergency Operations Center, “Melania Trump, Barron Trump and any other members of the former family would be transferred as well. “
At the time, the White House had also warned employees that they had to go to work on Monday after using the bunker. He asked them to hide their passes until they reached an entry point of the Sscreto service and to hide them when leaving, according to an email that was seen by CNN.
Trump had tried to publicly downplay the matter in the following days, trying to explain in a radio interview at the time his presence in the bunker as an “inspection,” rather than a retreat for his own safety.
– CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and Noah Gray contributed to this report.