President Donald Trump was abruptly escorted from his press conference on Monday less than five minutes after it began and returned to say law enforcement shot an armed suspect outside the White House.
‘There was a shooting outside of the White House and it seems to be very well under control,’ President Trump said after he returned to briefing room a few minutes after his exit.
The president, who after speaking about the shooting proceeded to take questions from reporters on a variety of topics for nearly an hour, said he was fine after being pulled from the room.
‘Do I seem rattled?,’ he said.
He thanked his security detail for their quick action.
‘I’d like to thank the Secret Service for doing their always quick and very effective work,’ he noted.
He said he didn’t know the condition of the person who was shot and taken to the hospital.
‘There was an actual shooting and somebody has been taken to the hospital. I don’t know the condition of the person. Seems that the person was shot by the Secret Service, so we will see what happens,’ he said.
Shorty after he began speaking to the press, a Secret Service agent came into the press briefing room to whisper in President Donald Trump’s ear
Law enforcement locked down the White House
The agent escorted President Trump from the briefing room
President Trump said he was escorted out because shots were fired at the White House
The Secret Service confirmed the shooting in a brief statement.
‘The Secret Service can confirm there has been an officer involved shooting at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Ave. Law enforcement officials are on the scene. More information to follow,’ the agency posted on its Twitter account.
President Trump said it was his understanding the suspect was armed but didn’t think it was necessarily about him.
‘It might not have had anything to do with me,’ he said.
He said the agents took him to the Oval Office, which is just down the hall from the press briefing room.
The situation made for a dramatic start to President Trump’s Monday press briefing. Less than five minutes after he began speaking, a Secret Service agent escorted him from the room. No explanation was given from the dramatic exit, leaving reporters in the room to scramble to the briefing room windows only to see law enforcement agents outside.
The White House was declared on lock down, which is standard procedure during a security breach.
It’s unclear where the suspect was shot. Video on social media showed a person on the ground with law enforcement surrounding the person at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 17th Street, at the corner where the Eisenhower Executive Office building is located. That building is next to the White House.
The president said he was surprised by what happened but was not concerned for his personal safety.
‘I was surprised,’ he said. ‘It’s pretty unusual but very, very professional people. They do a fantastic job, as you know.’
‘The world has been a dangerous place. Very dangerous place and it will continue, I guess, for a period of time. I feel very safe with Secret Service, they are fantastic people. They are the best of the best and they are highly trained,’ he added.
Video on social media showed a person down at the corner of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue
Police officers stand guard at the corner of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, near the White House
Secret Service agents stand guard outside the press briefing room door
He said he never considered canceling his press briefing.
‘I didn’t even consider not coming back,’ Trump said. ‘I asked if I was able to come back, they said to wait a little while.’
And, with that, he somewhat impatiently returned to what he was saying before he was pulled from the room, talking about the rise in the stock market.
Then, in a freewheeling exchange with White House reporters, he discussed the coronavirus, negotiations with Democrats on a relief package, and his Democratic rival Joe Biden.
He also brought up one of his favorite topics, his accusation that former President Barack Obama spied on his campaign. During the 2016 presidential campaign, when Obama was president, the FBI opened a counter-intelligence investigation into the Trump campaign to see if Russian agents were trying to influence the election.
Trump turned that into a deep state conspiracy working against him.
‘Look, the Obama campaign spied on our campaign and they’ve been caught, all right? Now let’s see what happens to them. But they have been caught, they’ve been caught red-handed. It’s probably treason. It’s a horrible thing they did and it probably never happened before, at least nobody got caught doing it. But they use to the intelligence agencies of our country to spy on my campaign and they have been caught. There are a lot of people involved,’ he said.
During the briefing, President Trump saw John Roberts of Fox News standing at the back of the room. He noted Roberts was outside when the incident occurred. Roberts was doing a live shot from the North Lawn of the White House at the time.
‘I heard two shots in rapid succession just after you took the podium,’ Roberts told him.
‘I saw your report inside when I went inside. It was a good report, thank you very much, appreciate it,’ Trump told him.
President Trump had barely begun his press briefing when a Secret Service agent stepped into the press briefing room and whispered into the president’s ear.
‘There’s been a shooting outside,’ the agent told him.
‘Excuse me,’ President Trump said.
The agent spoke to him again and President Trump left the room with him.
Upon his return after an agent escorted him out, President Trump said he never considered not returning to finish his press briefing
A U.S. Secret Service police officer stands on the roof of the the White House
A United States Secret Service officer stands outside the White House Briefing Room
President Trump picked up his briefing where he left off, talking about the stock market
A uniformed Secret Service agent outside the White House press briefing room
Secret Service agents screen all reporters and visitors before they enter the White House complex. Agents lock down the briefing room before the president enters with agents standing at all its entry points.
Police could be seen outside the press briefing area, which sits in the West Wing of the White House.