The press has been evacuated from the White House grounds.
The unusual move — the president is almost always followed by at least a pool reporters — was made without any explanation Monday evening, CNN reported.
The Secret Service order came as demonstrators across the street in Lafayette Park declared the “Black House Autonomous Zone,” in apparent imitation of the anarchist police-free enclave in Seattle.
Earlier in the evening, rioters had tried to bring down a statue of Andrew Jackson in the square but failed, and police quickly pushed them away and established a security perimeter.
Breaking into his normal programming, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper brought in Collins, who explained what said was an unprecedented security step to demand the media exit the protected White House compound.
“The Secret Service asked us to leave. I don’t think that’s ever happened since I’ve been inside the White House,” Collins noted. “Often they say you can’t go outside, the White House is on lockdown. Press was instructed to actually leave the White House grounds and out here, you can see there is a swarm of protesters out in front of the White House.
“They cleared the protesters,” Collins went on. “The police moved this barrier to where we are right now. Earlier today this is not where the barrier was. There are several protesters standing around and police officers forming a bit of a hapazard line in front of the White House as we wait to figure out more details about what is going on but clearly, they believe there was some kind of threat happening and that’s why they had reporters leave the White House in that very unusual move, Anderson.”