Trump issues statement against Richmond tearing down statue of General Robert E. Lee, calls him a great ‘unifying force’

Former US President Donald Trump speaks during the Rally To Protect Our Elections conference on July 24, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Former US President Donald Trump speaks during the Rally To Protect Our Elections conference on July 24, 2021, in Phoenix, Arizona. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Former US President Donald Trump on Wednesday denounced the removal of a towering statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia. The statue was the biggest Confederate statue in the US.

In an official statement, the former president called the general a “unifying force” who was “ardent in his resolve to bring the North and South together through many means of reconciliation and imploring his soldiers to do their duty in becoming good citizens of this Country.”

He went on to say the US would have benefited from having Lee leading the war in Afghanistan.

“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,” Trump wrote.

“What an embarrassment we are suffering because we don’t have the genius of a Robert. E. Lee,” Trump went on.

Lee’s leadership of the Confederate Army during the Civil War led to hundreds of thousands of deaths as he fought to defend Southerners’ rights to own Black people as property.

The general has become a rallying point for white supremacists in the US, who see him as an astute military strategist who brought the country together. In 2017, clashes also emerged over plans to take down another statue of Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, according to Reuters.

In his statement, Trump wrote, “Robert E. Lee is considered by many Generals to be the greatest strategist of them all.”

This is not the first time Trump has made remarks supporting Confederate symbols. In 2020, he defended people who support the use of the Confederate flag, saying, “they’re not thinking about slavery.”

The six-story, 12-ton statue of Lee was removed as an onlooking crowd cheered, and is being temporarily moved to a state facility.