Jeh Johnson, former President Barack Obama's Homeland Security secretary, inadvertently admitted Sunday that he failed to do part of his job.
On ABC's "This Week," the former Department of Homeland Security chief called the existence of Confederate statues a "homeland security" issue."
"What alarms so many of us from a security perspective is that so many of the statues, the Confederate monuments, are now, modern-day, becoming symbols and rallying points for white nationalism, for neo-Nazis, for the KKK, and this is most alarming," Johnson told ABC News anchor Martha Raddatz. "We fought a world war against Nazism. The KKK reigned terror on African-Americans for generations."
Johnson then acknowledged that leaders in some cities and states have pushed to remove such monuments. The mayor of Lexington, Kentucky, for example, advocated to relocate two Confederate statues from outside an old courthouse in downtown Lexington to a veterans' cemetery just outside the city. And in Baltimore, four Confederate statues were quietly removed under the cover of darkness after the Charlottesville, Virginia, terror attack.
"I salute those in cities and states who are taking down a lot of these monuments for reasons of public safety and security," Johnson said.
"And," the former DHS chief added, "that's not a matter of political correctness," as some on the right have suggested.
"That's a matter of public safety and homeland security and doing what's right," Johnson said.
So, if the existence of these statues are, indeed, a matter of "public safety" and "homeland security," why are they still there?
During the final three years of the Obama administration, Johnson was in charge of that very thing: Homeland Security. If Johnson truly believes these statues are a "rallying point" for white nationalists and therefore a matter "homeland security," his duty as Homeland Security secretary would have required him to get rid of such perceived threats.
It's worth noting, however, that Johnson also made clear he doesn't support removing monuments dedicated to George Washington or Thomas Jefferson.
"I think most Americans understand, most African-Americans understand, that many of the founders of our nation were slave owners, but most of us are not advocating that we take them off the currency or drop Washington's name from the nation's capital," Johnson said, noting that he has cousins whose last names are Washington.
"And they're not changing their names. They're proud of their names," Johnson said.