President Donald Trump tweeted that he abruptly canceled a planned trip to New Jersey on Friday to "make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced" in Washington, D.C.
Trump's late afternoon Twitter post was the first time he or the White House explained the sudden cancellation on Friday morning of his scheduled visit this weekend to his golf course in Bedminster, NJ.
The White House earlier had said that the cancellation was unrelated to a new order by Gov. Phil Murphy requiring visitors to the Garden State to quarantine after being in states with increasing numbers of coronavirus cases.
"I was going to go to Bedminster, New Jersey, this weekend, but wanted to stay in Washington, D.C. to make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced," Trump wrote in his Twitter post.
"The arsonists, anarchists, looters, and agitators have been largely stopped. .. I am doing what is necessary to keep our communities safe — and these people will be brought to Justice!"
The president soon afterward tweeted that he had just signed "a very strong Executive Order protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues - and combating recent Criminal Violence."
Trump's tweets came a day after sources told NBC News that Trump personally called Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt and asked that the Park Service put back up a statue of Albert Pike, a Confederate general, which was pulled down and set on fire last week by protesters in a Washington park.
On Monday, protesters tied ropes around the statue of President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square, just across from the White House, but were scattered by police using pepper spray before they could topple the statue.
On Thursday, law enforcement authorities put up barriers around the Emancipation Memorial in the Capitol Hill area to prevent it from potential damage from protesters. Some protesters have called for removal of the memorial, which depicts President Abraham Lincoln holding a copy of his Emancipation Proclamation, as a Black man kneels at Lincoln's feet.
The U.S. has seen protests nationwide calling for reform of police and the removal of Confederate statues and other memorials seen as objectionable on the heels of the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, on Memorial Day by Minneapolis police.
Four now-fired cops have been arrested and charge in Floyd's death, which occurred after one of them, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for nearly eight minutes during an arrest.
Murphy, the New Jersey governor, told CNBC earlier Friday that his coronavirus quarantine order would not have applied to Trump, because "by any definition the president of the United States is an essential worker."
Two days ago, a White House spokesman that Trump still planned to go to New Jersey despite Murphy's order, which mirrors identical directives issued this week by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont to visitors who had been in a number of states with rising coronavirus cases.
Trump traveled to Arizona on Tuesday for an event at a church. Arizona has an increasing number of Covid-19 cases.
"The president of the United States is not a civilian," White House spokesman Judd Deere said Wednesday when asked about Trump's planned trip there on the heels of Murphy's order.
"Anyone who is in close proximity to him, including staff, guests, and press are tested for COVID-19 and confirmed to be negative," Deere said then.
"With regard to Arizona, the White House followed it's COVID mitigation plan to ensure the President did not come into contact with anyone who was symptomatic or had not been tested."
"Anyone traveling in support of the president this weekend will be closely monitored for symptoms and tested for COVID."
Murphy, during an interview earlier on CNBC's "Squawk Box," spoke about Trump's then-scheduled visit, which the governor said would not be in conflict with his quarantine order.
"There is a carve out for essential workers and by any definition the president of the United States is an essential worker so the president is welcome obviously in New Jersey," Murphy said.
After the cancellation of Trump's was announced by the White House, Murphy reiterated that exemption for the president, and told the reporters that "there was no either private or public signal from us otherwise."
On Thursday, Trump visited the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin, where he delivered remarks about a multibillion-dollar contract for the facility to a cheering crowd.
During that appearance Trump repeated a claim that the U.S. is seeing an increase in coronavirus cases because it is testing more extensively than other countries.
"We have the greatest testing program in the world. We've developed it over a period of time. And we're up to almost 30 million tests," Trump said.
"That means we're going to have more cases. If we didn't want to test, or if we didn't test, we wouldn't have cases. But we have cases because we test. Deaths are down. We have one of the lowest mortality rates."
The United States has had more than 2.4 million Covid-19 reported cases and 124,468 related deaths. The number of cases and deaths in the U.S. account for 25% of the total number of cases and deaths worldwide.
-- Additional reporting by CNBC's Tucker Higgins.