Ryan Lizza, chief Washington correspondent for Politico, asked White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday if President TrumpDonald John TrumpTop intelligence officials release statements criticizing leaking of Russian bounties information Russian bounty intel was included in Trump’s daily briefing: reports Senators will have access to intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops MORE believes “it was a good thing that the South lost the Civil War,” prompting McEnany to call the question “absolutely absurd.”
“I think a lot of people are trying to understand what his view of memorializing the Confederacy is and the proper place of the Confederate flag,” Lizza, who also serves as a CNN senior political analyst, said at a White House press briefing. “Does President Trump believe that it was a good thing that the South lost the Civil War?”
“Well, your first question is absolutely absurd. He’s proud of the United States of America,” McEnany responded.
Lizza also asked if Trump had any plans to ban the Confederate flag at his rallies, similar to NASCAR’s decision earlier this month following the May 25 police killing of George Floyd that sparked mass protests across the country.
“That would be a question for his campaign,” McEnany said before citing a recent Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey that she said underscored the president’s position on “preserving our history.”
“There is a Harvard-Harris poll released just last week that shows 60 percent of respondents said the statues should remain and 71 percent said local governments should block groups from physically destroying the statues,” McEnany said. “So he stands on the side of preserving our history.”
The poll, released on Tuesday, found that 58 percent of respondents said the statues should remain, while 42 percent said they should be removed.
Trump signed an executive order last week aimed at protecting federal monuments and statues from vandalism.
I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues – and combatting recent Criminal Violence. Long prison terms for these lawless acts against our Great Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2020
The battle over the removal of statues commemorating Confederate figures is also raging on Capitol Hill. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSenators will have access to intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops House Dems to offer up road map to solve the climate crisis Feehery: On statues and statutes MORE (D-Calif.) recently ordered the removal of Confederate portraits in the Capitol, and Democrats are pushing for the removal of 11 statues of Confederate generals in the Capitol complex.
Congress is likely to send Trump a massive defense policy bill this year that’s expected to include a provision on renaming of Army bases that are named for Confederate military officers. Trump would then need to decide if he wants to veto the measure.