Trump called for toppled Albert Pike statue to be restored in DC: reports

President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Michael Cohen book accuses Trump of corruption, fraud Trump requests mail-in ballot for Florida congressional primary MORE personally requested that a toppled statue in Washington, D.C., be restored after it was torn down late last week, according to multiple reports, as he digs in in his fight to protect controversial monuments that he deems important to the nation's "heritage."

Trump called Interior Secretary David Bernhardt after demonstrators in the nation's capital pulled down the statue of Confederate Gen. Albert Pike, CNN and NBC reported.

The White House declined to comment on the record.

ADVERTISEMENT

"It is the intent of the National Park Service to mitigate any damage to any statue, monument, or memorial damaged due to any criminal activity," Alexandra Picavet, acting chief spokesperson for the National Park Service, said in a statement when asked whether Trump had reached out to Bernhardt about the Pike statue

The president's reported intervention comes as he elevates the fight over controversial monuments into a key political issue. Trump is expected by the end of the week to sign an executive order that strengthens protections of statues and punishments for those who deface them.

The measure will reportedly direct U.S. marshals to protect certain monuments and will reinforce existing laws that make it illegal to damage statues honoring military personnel.

Statues have been toppled or defaced at various protests around the country this month, including figures associated with the Confederacy, such as a statue of Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Va., as well as other historical figures who have come under criticism as having advanced racist policies and rhetoric, such as statues for former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo (D) and Christopher Columbus.

Roughly 100 protesters gathered in Judiciary Square in Washington, D.C., on Friday night and eventually toppled the statue of Pike.

Pike, who was also a prominent figure among the Freemasons, was the only Confederate figure to have an outdoor statue in the District. The statue commemorated his contributions to the Freemasons.

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump had tweeted as the statue was coming down, complaining that D.C. police were not intervening and calling the act "a disgrace to our Country!"

The president has been steadfastly opposed to any alterations or removals of statues, military bases or other monuments honoring Confederate leaders.

"Very sad to see States allowing roving gangs of wise guys, anarchists & looters, many of them having no idea what they are doing, indiscriminately ripping down our statues and monuments to the past," Trump tweeted on Wednesday.

"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!"