Trump rips removal of Robert E. Lee statue: 'Complete desecration'

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package Trump calls Milley a 'f---ing idiot' over Afghanistan withdrawal First rally for far-right French candidate Zemmour prompts protests, violence MORE on Wednesday blasted the decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Va., saying it would result in a “complete desecration.”

Trump has defended such statues from being removed in the past, calling activists' effort a means to "take away" U.S. history and culture by calling for the removal of Confederate statues. 

A different statue of Lee served as the site of the deadly protest that was the scene of the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Just watched as a massive crane took down the magnificent and very famous statue of ‘Robert E. Lee On His Horse’ in Richmond, Virginia. It has long been recognized as a beautiful piece of bronze sculpture,” Trump said in a statement.

“To add insult to injury, those who support this ‘taking’ now plan to cut it into three pieces, and throw this work of art into storage prior to its complete desecration,” he added.

Trump then claimed that had Lee been alive, he would have led a successful military operation in Afghanistan.

“Our culture is being destroyed and our history and heritage, both good and bad, are being extinguished by the Radical Left, and we can’t let that happen!” Trump said in his statement. “If only we had Robert E. Lee to command our troops in Afghanistan, that disaster would have ended in a complete and total victory many years ago. What an embarrassment we are suffering because we don’t have the genius of a Robert E. Lee!”

Nationwide protests erupted following the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of a white police officer. It led to calls for racial justice and included calls to remove Confederate statues across the country, including inside the U.S. Capitol.  

Some have argued that the Confederate remnants are symbols of hatred. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) called the bronze piece “Virginia’s largest monument to the Confederate insurrection.” Opponents of taking down Confederate pieces have generally argued that doing so removes or erases U.S. history.

ADVERTISEMENT

A legal battle ensued following Northam’s announcement that the Lee statue would be removed in Richmond. Last week, a Virginia Supreme Court ruling ruled the statue could come down and removal plans could proceed.

Northam was among a crowd of people who watched the statue come down on Wednesday and be cut into pieces by workers. The Lee statue is slated to be kept in a facility owned by the state. 

Earlier this summer, the Lee statue in Charlottesville was also removed.