Members of the Trump administration have told U.S. marshals to be prepared to protect national monuments if needed. In an email, Marshals Service Assistant Director Andrew C. Smith told The Washington Post that his team “has been asked to immediately prepare to provide federal law enforcement support to protect national monuments (throughout the country).” Furthermore, the email’s subject line, “Attorney General Assignment,” suggests that the order came from Attorney General William Barr.
Smith did express concern about Barr’s warning. Specifically, he noted that the scope and size of an order like that would be difficult to pull up given the current circumstances.
“This is a challenging assignment due to the breadth of possible targets for criminal activity,” he wrote.
The order from the White House comes just a day after President Donald Trump threatened to bring federal charges against anyone who toppled a federal monument. In his remarks, Trump noted that he would pursue a sentence nearing 10 years for those who took part in such an activity.
“I have authorised the federal government to arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other such federal property in the US with up to 10 years in prison, per the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act,” he tweeted.
Recently, federal monuments honoring Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln have come under attack. With the July 4th holiday nearing, protests are expected to heat up. As they do, toppling monuments will likely become a talking point for the 45th President.