WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that the names of Confederate leaders must be removed from American military bases and the statues of these men must be taken out of the U.S. Capitol.
"These names have to go from these bases and these statues have to go from the Capitol," Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference.
"The American people know these names have to go. These names are white supremacists that said terrible things about our country,” she said. “Some of these names were given to these bases. You listen to who they are and what they said and then you have the president make a case as to why a base should be named for them. He seems to be the only person left who doesn't get it.”
President Donald Trump has rejected calls to remove Confederate statues and monuments from public spaces and on Wednesday, said he would “not even consider” renaming Army bases that honor Confederate leaders who fought to protect slavery and uphold white supremacy.
On Wednesday, the speaker wrote a letter to the Joint Committee on the Library, which oversees statues in the U.S. Capitol, calling for the removal of Confederate statues from the building because they are a "grotesque affront" to American ideals and "pay homage to hate, not heritage." Pelosi had pushed, unsuccessfully, for the removal of Confederate statues from the Capitol after the events in Charlottesville in 2017, calling on then-Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to join Democrats in demanding their immediate removal.
She said Thursday that "public sentiment is everything" and now, "the timing might be just right" to remove these artifacts as the nation confronts systemic racism.
"They committed treason against the United States," Pelosi said of Jefferson Davis and Alexander, the president and vice president of the Confederate states respectively.
Pelosi said that, during the period when she first served as the House speaker, she "did do what I had the authority to do, which was relegate Robert E. Lee to the crypt," referring to a circular area on the first floor of the Capitol where there are 40 exposed columns that support the Capitol Rotunda above. Lee served as general of the Confederate army during the Civil War.
Several House Democrats have proposed legislation, she said, that would get rid of 11 Confederate statues in the Capitol that Pelosi said "we have our eye on." She said legislation or committee action may be required to remove them.
"Believe me, if I had more authority, you'd have fewer of these statues around," she said.
Asked if she has the power to move the statues of Davis and Stevens from Statuary Hall into dark corners of the Capitol, Pelosi said, "We’ll see. You start with a feather...let’s see how we can have consensus on it."