President Trump on Tuesday criticized the removal of statues depicting historical figures as an attack on U.S. heritage, in a high-profile speech to conservative donors and policymakers at the Heritage Foundation.

Weeks after leaders in several U.S. cities ordered the removal of various Confederate memorials and monuments, Trump on Tuesday condemned renewed efforts to eliminate statues of famed Genoese explorer Christopher Columbus.

"We believe we should preserve our history, not tear it down," he said. "Now, they are trying to destroy statues of Christopher Columbus. What's next? It has to be stopped; it's heritage."

Vandals spilled fake blood over a statue commemorating Columbus in New York's Central Park on Oct. 14, just months after the city's mayor, Bill de Blasio, said he was considering removing a 100-year-old statue of the historical figure that sits in the center of the Manhattan's Columbus Circle.

"Our Italian American ancestors, facing bigotry and discrimination, identified Columbus as an Italian celebrated greatly across America for establishing a lasting bridge between the Old and New World," De Blasio said at the time.