Trump blasts 'weak' state leaders for allowing removal of statues and historic monuments

President Trump blasted “weak” states for allowing the removal of statues and monuments and other images honoring Confederate soldiers, slave owners and other controversial historical figures, which have been torn down in states including Virginia and California – either officially or by the protesters themselves.

The calls for the removal of the statues and monuments come during a public reckoning over the country's past treatment of African American and other minorities.

Trump made the comment speaking with “Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade in Washington, D.C. on Monday as part of a special on the history of the White House that will air on Sunday.

A clip of that interview aired on “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday. Before the clip aired, Kilmeade noted that more than 100 monuments and plaques have been taken down since May 25.

“Everything from George Washington … [to] Teddy Roosevelt,” he said.

During the interview with Trump, Kilmeade said “We’re in a war on history.”

He pointed to the fact that there are calls to remove monuments and statues of former President Andrew Jackson in New Orleans.

“Without the Battle of New Orleans, we’re not the same country,” Kilmeade said.

“I don’t like it at all,” Trump said in response. “I don’t like anything that’s going on.”

Trump said he's stopped the removal of statues and monuments from a federal level.

“I’ve stopped federal, but the states are -- a lot of states are weak. A lot of people are weak and they’re allowing it to happen,” Trump continued.

He then pointed out that “it’s going over a little bit around the world now. They want to remove the statue of Gandhi, OK? All he wanted was peace.”

“They want to take down Ulysses S. Grant. Well he’s the one that stopped the Confederates, right? So he was a great general … nobody’s stock went higher than his stock over the last 10 or 15 years,” Trump continued.

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President Trump spoke with Kilmeade on Monday shortly before a group of protesters attempted to pull down a statue of Andrew Jackson in Washington D.C.'s Lafayette Park. The protestors were pushed back by police.

Trump wrote on Twitter late Monday that “numerous people were arrested” in Washington, D.C., as protesters attempted to tear down the statue of Jackson and — once again — targeted the nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Jackson, who has faced ire in the present day for his severe treatment of Native Americans, was the latest historical figure targeted by protesters demanding monuments and memorials to those with racist pasts be taken down.

Earlier this month, Trump clashed with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser over deploying federal forces in the city in order to protect government assets during unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody.

Kilmeade asked Trump during Monday’s interview, “Do you understand how you look at Thomas Jefferson, you look at George Washington, you look at James Monroe, at James Madison, one thing they had -- they were brilliant. They also had slaves. So how do we grow as a country, but yet not forget our past?”

“You have to understand history and you have to understand the culture and so many other aspects of our country and people can study that and they can hate it and let’s all hate it, but you can’t take down George Washington’s statue,” Trump said, noting that “half of our country is named after Washington.”

“We have to remember the heritage-- the culture of our country,” he continued.

Trump also pointed out what he said “is less important,” but still “very important.”

“Some of the things that they’re trying to destroy are magnificent pieces of art,” Trump said.

“Have you ever seen an area where a statue was removed and you look at the area and they put blacktop over the top of it, they put asphalt over the top and that’s the end and it was the center of a town or … the village, now the statue’s gone and the whole village is like a different place.”

Trump went on to explain “the other problem I have.”

“A lot of these people that want it down don’t even know what they’re taking down,” Trump said. “I watch them on television and I see what’s happening and they’re ripping down things they have no idea what they’re ripping down.”

“They started off with the Confederate and then they go to Ulysses S. Grant. Well, what’s that all about?” Trump asked.

Ulysses S. Grant was a commanding general of the United States Army during the final 13 months of the Civil War.

He added, “I’ve stopped them twice now from going over to the Jefferson Memorial.”

“If I weren’t president, they would have knocked down [the Jefferson Memorial] -- if a guy like [former Vice President Joe] Biden was president, they will knock the Jefferson Memorial. Not going to happen.”

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Trump said Monday that he will soon issue an executive order meant to protect public statues and monuments from being damaged or destroyed by far-left and anarchist protestors.

"We are going to do an executive order and make the cities guard their monuments," Trump told Eternal Word Television Network's Raymond Arroyo, a Fox News contributor. "This is a disgrace."

Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly, Paul Steinhauser, Louis Casiano, Edmund DeMarch, Charles Creitz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.