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Home / US / In the quest for suspense – and crowds – for Trump's Fourth of July

In the quest for suspense – and crowds – for Trump's Fourth of July

Army personnel stopped parking a Bradley Fighting Vehicle in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Wednesday. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

President Trump's appointed representatives have been persistently working to collect the most ambitious and expensive The Fourth of July ceremony, which the capital of the country has ever experienced, was headed by a broader principle: it can not Repeat his inauguration in 2017.

Conversion of the Lincoln Memorial site into a television-ready setting is complete with a VIP seating department for donors and other political supporters is the culmination of a four-month effort to host the president's military service scheduled for nearly two years.

For a public gathering that allegedly appeals to an audience of hundreds of millions of Americans, the presentation of weapons, aircraft, and pyrotechnics was written primarily to satisfy an audience of one. By speaking to a select audience flanked by armored tactical vehicles, the organizers hope he will avoid the prospect of facing a smaller crowd as he has assembled for his swearing in the mall.

But the White House has also worried Trump's assistants that either thunderstorms or the traditional free concert at the other end of the mall could reduce the crowd for Trump's 6:30 pm speech. The issue of the crowd has been a tricky point for Trump since his inauguration when, compared to Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony in 2009, far fewer people showed up and the president urged National Park Service officials to lack photographic evidence for a larger audience.

The government has provided 5,000 tickets to the military, the Pentagon said Wednesday. Trump's re-election campaign has distributed passports to allies, donors and trade associations – from the American Bankers Association to the British Embassy, ​​according to the persons familiar with the matter, and several fundraisers and activists were also assigned to hand over tickets.

The aerial photo shows the crowd and empty parts of the mall at the inauguration of President Trump in January 2017. (National Park Service)

The White House was somewhat awkward at some attempts to issue passports and officials said that There are still many tickets this week. Members of a nonprofit advocacy group that does not receive government gifts received an e-mail from the Office of Public Liaison this week, offering up to five tickets to Trump's remarks.

The event will easily be the most expensive Independence Day celebration on the mall in history. The Park Service has pledged to spend nearly $ 2.5 million on Trump's commitment alone and the air show and transportation of tanks and other heavy machinery will also run into the millions. However, the president described it as a bargain on Wednesday.

"The cost of our big greeting to America tomorrow will be very small compared to what it's worth," tweeted the president . "We own the planes, we have the pilots, the airport is right next door (Andrews), we just need the fuel. We own the tanks and everything. Fireworks are donated by two of the greats. Nice! "

While work on the project has been accelerating in recent weeks, this is directly related to the President's visit to Paris in July 2017 when he participated in a Bastille day parade along the Avenue des Champs-Elysees. Current and former aides recalled texting during the parade as they watched Trump's response to the jetbooms, gun trucks and marching troops, knowing he wanted to emulate them at home.

Continue in the President's Special Armored Sedan On the way to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, Trump once again called for a celebration of military might – and began to design a parade of tanks, overflights, and more before Air Force One ever started. Helpers warning him that tanks would destroy the streets denied such concerns – and said that there were ways to circumvent them.

"There were many long conversations with the boss about it," said a former senior civil servant. 19659016] Trump's original idea of ​​hosting a military parade that coincided with Veteran's Day last year was dropped after the planned cost of up to $ 92 million was released.

A former White House official said that then Chief of Staff John F Kelly, sensitive to Pentagon setbacks, helped with the brakes At the military parade Trump wished "forever". But under the reigning Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney Trump has more scope to give in to his moods and impulses.

During Polish President Andrzej Dud When Trump visited the White House last month, Trump sent an F-35 fighter jet over the complex – and the president was thrilled with the presentation, a White House official said.

The discussion on the current event began at least as early as February 21, when Trump addressed it in a lunch with Home Secretary David Bernhardt, according to a person familiar with the matter. Three days later, Trump called on Americans to prepare for "one of the largest gatherings in the history of Washington, DC, on July 4. , , Big fireworks, entertainment and a speech of your favorite president!

Since then, White House, Home Office, and Pentagon officials have been conducting extensive negotiations on what kind of commemoration the federal government could carry out without additional government grants. Park and Defense officials have voiced logistical and budgetary concerns in several places, according to several government officials who spoke about the sensitive matter on condition of anonymity. Many of these concerns have been set aside.

Two US Defense officials, who talked about the sensitivity of the matter under the condition of anonymity, said the Pentagon was planning the July 4th celebration since at least February, if explicitly requested for aircraft such as the B-2 Spirit made by the White House stealth bomber.

Military officials saw no problem with the inquiries, as they were considered part of a civic event that would normally support the Pentagon. Briefing slides with airplanes were created and distributed in some parts of the Pentagon, one of the defense officials said.

As July drew nearer, the Pentagon faced a challenge: The White House did not want the defense officials to set out the details Military involvement out of consideration for the president's desire to have surprises for observers during the air show. The situation created a dynamic in which the Pentagon seemed less well organized for the celebration than it really was, said one of the defense attorneys.

One obvious exception was the President's desire to include tanks in the celebration. A third defense official said that many high-ranking military officials were aware last week that the president wanted tanks, with the reservation of anonymity. Two M1A2 Abrams tanks were loaded onto rail vehicles along with other armored vehicles, including M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, from Fort Stewart, Georgia, over the weekend.

National Park Service officials continue to worry that the use of tanks on the grounds of the Lincoln Memorial may be able to damage the curbs and sidewalks that are not responsible for the weight of a vehicle weighing more than 60 tons are designed. The federal government spent $ 30.7 million on the renovation of the Obama administration memorial, including its sidewalks, and Trump's opening committee has blamed the agency for the damage it inflicted on the memorial during its January 2017 installation. still not refunded.

Event less than a day away, some details have been worked out. White House officials have repeatedly urged Trump to stick to the script that his staff have prepared for Thursday's submission, which contains a unifying message about patriotism and avoids political taunting or attacks, and aides say he has agreed to none to give political speech. According to a person familiar with the plan, his aides were tentatively planning to play campaign music when he entered the stage.

And while the Park Service has plunged into a pot of entry and recovery fees to transfer nearly $ 2.5 million to the park, it is unclear which parks will lose money as part of the White House event. At one point, interior ministers raised the idea of ​​taking money from places in liberal communities like the San Francisco Golden Gate National Recreation Area, according to a person familiar with the discussion, but this still needs to happen.

The Decision Retrieving funds normally reserved for visitor experience improvement projects has sparked protests from Democratic legislators and National Park Service advocates that the agency has a deferred maintenance backlog of $ 11.9 billion ,

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Chair of the House's Environmental Issues Subcommittee, said Wednesday she was planning a hearing to get a full account of Secretary of State Bernhardt on the use of National Park fees for the event. "

"This government needs to be reminded that the power of the wallet belongs to Congress," she said.

Will Ritter, co-founder of Poolhouse, a Republican advertising agency. While the event on Thursday is more elaborate than on July 4, some of the criticisms are exaggerated.

"Panicking partisans who believe this is the cinematic beginning of a military state must grab sparklers and buds," Ritter said. "It's much bigger than a person, much more important than showing metal, clinging to the president or owning the libraries, it should be an unrestricted celebration that we are blessed, in the best time in the world in the largest nation of the world To live the world. " Human history. Have a hot dog!

The presidential aides say that Trump sees the event as a way to associate themselves with the flag and patriotism that is resonating with many Americans, as he criticizes the National Football League players playing during the World Cup Having knelt the national anthem

After wading into the debate over the anthem, two former high-ranking government officials reported on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations and told his aides, "It's a profitable problem for me."

will you say? I'm too patriotic? I believe in America? "Told an official Trump. "Give me a break."

Tim Murtaugh, communication director of the Trump campaign, was asked on Wednesday after the event and did not apologize. "President Trump loves this country," Murtaugh said. "He will never apologize for that."

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