Trump asks Barr to prioritize prosecution of those who damage monuments

President TrumpDonald John Trump Miami-Dade will close the beaches during the weekend of July 4 by coronavirus fears that an Oklahoma reporter will test positive for COVID-19 after attending the Trump rally in Tulsa Trump criticizes the Governor of Illinois, Mayor for violence in Chicago calls for ‘law and order’ MORE on Friday directed Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump asks Barr to prioritize prosecution for those who damage monuments. Barr creates a working group focused on “anti-government extremists.” to prioritize the prosecution of those who damage federal monuments as the administration strives to protect statues and monuments from vandalism amid continued protests against racial inequality and police brutality.

Trump signed an executive order stating that it is the policy of the United States “to prosecute to the fullest extent permitted by federal law and, as appropriate,” any person who destroys, damages, destroys, or desecrates a monument, memorial, or statue or who damages, defaces or destroys religious property

The order also states that it is the policy of the United States to withhold federal support from state and local governments that do not protect public monuments, memorials, and statues, and from public spaces linked to state and local governments that do not comply with those terms.

Trump announced that he had signed the order in a tweet on Friday afternoon, promoting it as a “very strong” order.

I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order that protects the Monuments, Monuments and Statues of the United States, and fights recent criminal violence. Long prison terms for these illegal acts against our Great Country!

– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2020

Trump said earlier this week that he was preparing such an order after efforts to topple a federal statue near the White House in Washington, DC. At the time, Trump said the order would strengthen the existing law.

The Veterans Monument Preservation Act passed in 2003 already allows authorities to impose fines and a prison sentence of up to a decade for “attempts to injure or destroy any structure, plaque, statue, or other monument on public property that commemorates the service of any person or persons in the armed forces of the United States. “

Trump told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday that the executive order “would consolidate several things.”

The order directs Barr to “prioritize” investigations and prosecutions of those who destroy, deface or damage monuments, incite violence in connection with riots, or destroy, deface or damage religious property. It also mandates Barr to work with state and local law enforcement to ensure that federal officials “appropriately” provide information and assistance in connection with investigations or prosecutions related to monuments, monuments or state.

Trump’s order also directs federal agencies to review grant programs and ensure that funds are limited to entities that do not comply with the order. In addition, it allows federal military, national security and law enforcement personnel to be dispatched to help protect federal monuments, memorials, statues, and property if requested by Homeland or Homeland Security secretaries or the Services Administrator. General.

It is the latest move by the administration to crack down on violence amid protests across the country, with Trump emphasizing a “law and order” message heading for the general election.

On Friday, Barr separately ordered the Justice Department to form a task force dedicated to fighting “anti-government extremists,” according to a memo obtained by The Washington Post.

Members of the anti-fascist movement known as antifa and the primary targets of the right-wing “Boogaloo” movement for the newly formed task force were identified by the attorney general.

“Among other illegal conduct, these extremists have violently attacked police officers and other government officials, destroyed public and private property and threatened innocent people,” Barr wrote, according to the Post. Although these extremists profess a variety of ideologies, they are united in their opposition to the basic constitutional values ​​of a democratic society governed by law. … Some claim to profess a message of freedom and progress, but in reality they are forces of anarchy, destruction and coercion. ”

This week, the president pointed to protesters who tried Monday to tear down a statue of former President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square, which is across from the White House. Since then, the National Guard has been active in DC to protect federal monuments.

Trump told Fox News Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityTrump asks Barr to prioritize prosecution for those who damage monuments Trump says he has signed an executive order protecting monuments Trump says he ‘jokingly’ said that less evidence would mean fewer cases of coronavirus MORE at a city hall that aired Thursday that protesters who deface or demolish statues or monuments are likely to face “retribution.”

Trump has also opposed efforts to rename military bases to honor Confederate leaders, the subject of a renewed debate amid internal unrest following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in police custody. .