President Trump tweeted on Thursday that the removal of Confederate statues from cities and towns across the country is "beauty that...will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!"
The white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday was inspired by the planned removal of the Robert E. Lee statue in Emancipation Park. Baltimore city authorities removed four statues this week. Activists pulled down a statue in Durham, North Carolina. Other cities — including Lexington, Kentucky; Dallas, and Memphis — are planning to remove statues from their public spaces.
Trump started tweeting on Thursday morning that it was "sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart".
When asked for further clarification on the president's tweets, White House spokesperson Lindsay Walters told a pool reporter: "The tweets speak for themselves."
Trump's "who's next, Washington?" comment is reminiscent of his controversial press conference on Tuesday when he backed the white supremacists in Charlottesville — whom he says were "not all" white supremacists — because "they wanted to protest the taking down for the statue of Robert E. Lee."
Trump: I've condemned many different groups, but not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch.
Reporter: Well, white nationalists—
Trump: Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee. So … Excuse me. And you take a look at some of the groups and you see and you'd know it if you were honest reporters — which in many cases you're not. But many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So, this week it's Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself where does it stop? But they were there to protest- excuse me. you take a look the night before, they were there to protest the taking down of the statue of the Robert E. Lee. Infrastructure question.
Back in 2013, Trump called Lee a "great general."
In recent days, Trump has been repeatedly attempting to link Lee, a Confederate general, with founding fathers including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
"Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson?" he said during Tuesday's press conference, in a similar vein to Thursday's tweets.
"What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him. Good. Are we going to take down his statue? He was a major slave owner. You are changing history and culture," said the president.
Trump's tweets on Thursday were immediately met with derision from many online, who responded to the president about the "beauty" of Confederate statues.
The statue that reporter Soledad O'Brien tweeted was from the Battle of Liberty Place monument, removed earlier this year by authorities in New Orleans.
Others discussed whether a Trump statue should exist as "part of the history and culture of our great country":
As New York Times journalist Michael Barbaro pointed out, Donald Trump wasn't so careful about protecting historical "beauty" when it came to building Trump Tower back in 1979, which replaced an art deco department store.
Trump allowed two art deco panels to be "smashed by jackhammers" rather than donate them to the nearby Metropolitan Museum of Art.