President Donald Trump on Monday said he will issue an executive order designed to protect public statuary, as statues around the country have been torn down or defaced amid protests in recent weeks.
The president spoke during an exclusive June 22 interview with Raymond Arroyo, host of EWTN’s “The World Over.” During the interview, Trump also spoke about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and an open letter written to him by former U.S. apostolic nuncio Archbishop Carlo Viganò.
“We’re going to do something very soon,” Trump said. “We’re going to do an executive order. We’re going to make the cities guard their monuments, this is a disgrace.”
Amid protests that began after the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer, statues of historical figures have been torn down by some demonstrators.
While protesters against racism began by toppling statues of Confederate Civil War figures, demonstrators in recent days have toppled other figures: George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant among them, along with St. Junípero Serra, a Catholic missionary who founded nine missions in California.
Trump emphasized his claim that cities most dramatically impacted by protests, rioters, or looting are those in which Democrats are in power.
“It's all Democrats, usually liberal Democrats. Take a look. Whether it's Chicago, it's Democrat, Seattle, it's Democrat. The state of Washington. It's Democrat. Portland, it's Democrat. All of these places are run by Democrats. Twenty out 20 are Democrat-run,” the president said. “They don’t know what they’re doing. And if Biden got in, this country would be a disaster.”
“Take a look at the way we're running things, we’re running them good. And if I weren't president - talk about the statues - we wouldn't have any statues standing right now. Because I did things that you don't know about to save a lot of them,” the president added.
Arroyo asked Trump about whether presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is pro-life, noting that some Catholics claim Biden is a pro-life candidate because of his opposition to the death penalty and his efforts to end climate change, while claiming Trump is not.
“I am totally in favor of the death penalty for heinous crimes, ok? That’s the way it is,” the president said.
“I’m pro-life, he’s not. And the Democrats -- look who he’s putting on the court.”
“They want to put people on the court- you have no chance. So I’m pro-life, the Democrats aren’t. Nobody can say that Biden is, look at his stance over the years,” the president added, saying that in his view Democratic party operatives will advance a pro-abortion agenda if Biden is elected to the White House.
“Look at the governor of Virginia, look at what he did. He did an execution after. You know, normally you talk about late-term, his wasn’t late-term, his was, the baby was born, and then you can execute the baby. That’s the Democrats. That’s Joe Biden.”
The president referenced a 2019 Virginia bill supported by Gov. Ralph Northam, which opponents said would permit abortion even while a woman was in active labor.
During dispute over the bill, Northam said on a talk radio show that that if a baby were sufficiently disabled at birth, it could be “kept comfortable” and might be resuscitated if the mother wished, and there could be a “conversation” between doctors and the mother regarding what should be done with the baby.
Trump also talked about a June 18 Supreme Court decision that keeps intact the DACA program, which Trump has made efforts to terminate.
On DACA, Trump said that “What we want to do is win the case and then work it out.”
“They’re not going to have anything to worry about,” Trump said of DACA recipients, immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
While the president has said he is willing to make a deal on immigration reform to preserve the DACA program, some U.S. bishops have said that approach amounts to using DACA recipients as leverage in a political debate.
On June 18, the U.S. bishops’ conference urged President Trump “to strongly reconsider terminating DACA,” citing the plight of immigrant families during the new coronavirus pandemic. To end the program “needlessly places many families into further anxiety and chaos,” they said.
Trump was also asked about allegations by former National Security Advisor John Bolton that the president approved of the construction of internment camps in which up to one million Uighur people have been detained in the Xinjiang region of China.
The allegations are contained in “The Room Where It Happened," a memoir by Bolton to be released June 23.
“The book is a total lie, or mostly a lie,” the president said, noting that in his view Bolton violated the law by including classified information in his book.
“Everybody was in the room and nobody heard what Bolton heard,” Trump said of the allegations concerning the internment of the Uighur people in forced labor and “reeducation” camps.
The president also spoke about his concerns that mail-in ballots in the upcoming presidential election could lead to a “rigged election,” and offered comments on police reform and his belief that states which have not reopened their economies amid the coronavirus are keeping health measures intact for partisan political purposes.
Commenting on the country’s racial strife, Trump told Arroyo that because of his efforts on criminal justice reform and other policy initiatives, “I did more for our black population than anybody other than Abraham Lincoln. And nobody’s even close.”
The president remarked on a June 6 open letter written to him by former apostolic nuncio Archbishop Carlo Viganò.
The letter said that “it appears that the children of darkness – whom we may easily identify with the deep state which you wisely oppose and which is fiercely waging war against you in these days – have decided to show their cards, so to speak, by now revealing their plans.”
Viganò added that some bishops are “subservient to the deep state, to globalism, to aligned thought, to the New World Order which they invoke ever more frequently in the name of a universal brotherhood which has nothing Christian about it, but which evokes the Masonic ideals of those want to dominate the world by driving God out of the courts, out of schools, out of families, and perhaps even out of churches.”
The president said that he thinks Vigano’s letter is accurate, calling it a ”tremendous letter of support from the Catholic Church.”
Viganò “is highly respected as you know. It was beautiful, it was really three pages long, it was a beautiful letter. Yeah, he’s right in what he says,” Trump said.