US marshals asked to prepare to protect monuments nationwide: report

The U.S. Marshals Service has reportedly been asked to prepare to protect monuments around the nation as President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' MORE vows to crack down on protesters who target controversial statues. 

Marshals Service Assistant Director Andrew C. Smith said that the agency was "asked to immediately prepare to provide federal law enforcement support to protect national monuments (throughout the country)," according to an email directive obtained by The Washington Post. 

The subject line of the email called the request an “Attorney General Assignment," suggesting that it originated from Attorney General William BarrBill BarrWe haven't seen how low it can go Trump lashes out at Toomey, Romney after Roger Stone clemency criticism GOP senator says Trump commuting Stone was a 'mistake' MORE. Smith said in the email that the assignment would be "challenging," considering the "breadth of possible targets for criminal activity."

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The U.S. Marshals Incident Management Team will start a joint operations center in Virginia to coordinate the assignment, Smith said, according to the Post. The newspaper noted that the directive said every deputy in the Special Operations Group would be available for the assignment as soon as Thursday. 

Smith reportedly asked some districts and divisions to identify personnel who may be able to help with the initiative over the next two weeks. It remains unclear what type of work the agency has been asked to do. 

“US Marshals Service does not confirm or deny any potential enforcement activities," a spokesperson for the Marshals Service told The Hill in a statement. 

The Justice Department did not immediately return requests for comment from The Hill. 

Statues of Confederate leaders and other figures viewed as symbols of racism have been toppled in cities across the nation amid demonstrations against racial injustice and police brutality sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Demonstrators in Washington, D.C., on Monday attempted to pull down a statue of Andrew Jackson in a park across from the White House. Jackson, the seventh president of the U.S., signed the Indian Removal Act while in office, a law that directly led to the Trail of Tears.

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But U.S. Park Police dispersed the crowd before the protesters were able to get the monument off its pedestal. 

The incident prompted outrage from Trump, who has vowed punishment for any person who vandalizes or desecrates a U.S. monument. He said Tuesday that he was preparing an executive order to reinforce existing laws that punish people who target monuments. He also has called for "long-term jail sentences" for the people who attempted to topple the Jackson statue. 

Trump said in a tweet Wednesday night that it was "very sad" to see states allowing protesters to "indiscriminately" topple "our statues and monuments to the past."

"Some are great works of art, but all represent our History & Heritage, both the good and the bad," he added. "It is important for us to understand and remember, even in turbulent and difficult times, and learn from them. Knowledge comes from the most unusual of places!"

--This report was updated at 11:31 a.m.