Interior Secretary David Bernhardt fired back at Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on “The Story” Wednesday after a commission sanctioned by her office targeted several federal monuments to “remove, relocate, or contextualize.”
“My first thought is that no one — no one — will be removing or renaming the Washington Monument or the Jefferson Memorial,” Bernhardt told host Martha MacCallum. “None of that is going to happen. It’s just simply nutty.”
The list includes monuments and buildings named after historic figures like former presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor and Woodrow Wilson. The list also includes Founding Fathers Benjamin Franklin and George Mason, inventor Alexander Graham Bell and “Star-Spangled Banner” composer Francis Scott Key.
DC COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS CHANGES TO WASHINGTON MONUMENT, JEFFERSON MEMORIAL, OTHER HISTORICAL ASSETS
Taking the example of the Jefferson Memorial, Bernhardt told MacCallum that no one is calling Jefferson or anyone else a “perfect human being,” but “the Jefferson Memorial specifically was advocated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and he was really the primary driver behind the creation of that wonderful memorial.
“And as you walk into it and you see the preamble to the Declaration of Independence and other great things, I think that gives you a great sense of what American exceptionalism is about,” he added.
Bernhardt also took issue Wednesday with Bowser’s claim that the federal prosecutor’s office in the District is not being tough enough when it comes to bringing charges against left-wing activists who have been arrested for allegedly committing violence during protests.
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“They [the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office] responded to that letter with a pretty strong letter of their own, which lays out that they’ve been prosecuting folks pretty religiously,” he said. “And I will tell you this, we have our own officers [at the Interior Department] that have dealt with these matters and the U.S. Department of Justice is giving us a lot of support.
“So the bottom line is, if you commit a crime at Interior-managed properties, we’re going to investigate that crime, we are going to prosecute that crime, and if you are convicted, you’re going to go away for a long time for that crime.”