Trump Calls for Building Upon ‘Our Heritage’ Amid Push to Tear Down Statues

June 16, 2020 Updated: June 16, 2020

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he doesn’t want to see America’s heritage torn down, as lawmakers and activists in different parts of the country replace or try to replace various statues.

“Americans can achieve anything when we work together as one national family,” Trump said at a signing ceremony at the White House.

“To go forward, we must seek cooperation, not confrontation; we must build upon our heritage, not tear it down; and we must cherish the principles of America’s founding as we strive to deliver safe, beautiful, elegant justice and liberty for all.”

The president, who is up for reelection in November, was in concluding remarks touting measures his administration helped pass, such as long term funding for historically black colleges, and the results, including low unemployment.

Statues, including likenesses of Confederate soldiers, have been torn down by mobs in recent weeks amid unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis resident, in police custody last month.

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The statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis is splattered with paint after it was toppled Wednesday night, along Monument Drive in Richmond, Va., on June 10, 2020. (Dylan Garner/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

Elsewhere, elected officials are pushing to remove statues. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, said officials were going to remove a statue commemorating Gen. Robert E. Lee, who led Confederate forces, from Richmond.

Other Confederate statues will be removed from the city, Mayor Levar Stoney, another Democrat, said.

Each state sends two statues for display in the U.S. Capitol, with 100 total in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall and throughout the building. Eleven represent soldiers and officers who served in the Confederate Army, which lost in the U.S. Civil War, including Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens, who were president and vice president of the Confederacy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last week she wants the statues removed, alleging they “pay homage to hate.”

The steps to remove the statues don’t appear to allow federal lawmakers to make that decision though, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) asserted.

In a similar push, some lawmakers are mulling the renaming of military bases named after Confederate officers.

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President Donald Trump speaks as members of law enforcement look on during an event in the Rose Garden on “Safe Policing for Safe Communities” at the White House in Washington on June 16, 2020. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

There should be a periodic reevaluation of the names of military installations and national monuments, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the Republican conference chair, told reporters in Washington.

“This is a debate whose time has probably come. I think we’ll listen to where people in the country are,” he said.

The Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee last week approved an amendment from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to the National Defense Authorization Act that requires the Defense Department rename posts and assets either named for Confederate officers or that honor the confederacy within three years.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), one of the few senators who voted against the amendment, said on the Senate floor that he’s working “to undo this effort at historical revisionism.”‘

Trump came out against renaming bases last week, calling them “part of a Great American Heritage.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany later told reporters that Trump “fervently “stands against the renaming of “these great American fortresses.”

Katabella Roberts contributed to this report.

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