As Protests and Violence Spill Over, Trump Shrinks Back

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Some campaign advisers were pressing for a formal address to the nation as early as Sunday. But White House officials, recalling Mr. Trump’s error-filled Oval Office address in March about the spread of the coronavirus, cautioned that it was not necessary. Mr. Trump quizzed advisers throughout the day Sunday about whether he should give an Oval Office address.

Mr. Trump already tried to recalibrate by ripping up his speech at the Kennedy Space Center on Saturday after the launch of the new crewed SpaceX rocket and adding a long passage about Mr. Floyd. In the speech, Mr. Trump repeated his calls for law and order, but in more measured terms and leavened by expressions of sympathy for Mr. Floyd’s family, whom he had called to offer condolences.

Aides were disappointed that the remarks, delivered late Saturday afternoon as part of a speech otherwise celebrating the triumph of the space program, did not get wider attention, but they said they hoped they would break through. Several administration officials said Mr. Trump was genuinely horrified by the video of Mr. Floyd’s last minutes, mentioning it several times in private conversations over the last few days.

Mr. Trump and his team seemed taken off guard by the protests that materialized outside the White House on Friday night. Hundreds of people surged toward the White House as Secret Service and United States Park Police officers sought to block them. Bricks and bottles were thrown, and the police responded with pepper spray. At one point, an official said, a barricade near the Treasury Department next door to the White House was penetrated.

It was not clear what specifically prompted the Secret Service to whisk Mr. Trump to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, as the underground bunker is known, but the agency has protocols for protecting the president when the building is threatened.

Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said officials would not comment on whether Mr. Trump was taken to the underground bunker.

“The White House does not comment on security protocols and decisions,” Mr. Deere said.

Vice President Dick Cheney was brought to the bunker on Sept. 11, 2001, when the authorities feared one of the planes hijacked by Al Qaeda was heading toward the White House. President George W. Bush, who was out of town until that evening, was rushed there later after a false alarm of another plane threat.