Trump still wants tanks displayed at July 4th celebration

Jul 03, 2019, 00:30
Trump still wants tanks displayed at July 4th celebration

President Donald Trump confirmed a report that he wants tanks at the big Fourth of July celebration this week he's been talking up for months.

President Donald Trump's plans to host a military parade on US Independence Day this week have left critics seeing red, rather than red, white and blue.

"President Trump's efforts to insert politics into a celebration of our nation's history is extremely alarming", House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said in a statement last month.

Two M1A1 Abrams tanks and other military vehicles sit on guarded rail cars at a rail yard on July 2, 2019 in Washington, DC.

The White House is distributing tickets for President Trump's July Fourth speech on the Mall to Republican donors and political appointees, prompting Democratic lawmakers to question whether the administration's planned celebration violates federal ethics rules.

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In a retreat from tradition, the U.S. president announced on February 24 that the nation's capital would be "having one of the biggest gatherings" it has ever seen. "But there will be hearings, and we will have an opportunity to grill the Trump administration on how much money was spent and where the money was taken from", he said, adding that agencies can not just divert money unilaterally.

The event could also feature M1 Abrams battle tanks, a B-2 bomber, F-35 and F-22 fighter jets, and the Marine One helicopter that transports the president, the Pentagon said.

In his showman's style, Trump has said that his makeover of the Fourth of July events will result in them being bigger and more spectacular than ever before.

Trump already ordered a flyover by military jets - as well as one of the jetliners used as Air Force One - for the event. A representative from PBS said "A Capitol Fourth" was not affiliated with Trump's "Salute to America", which is to be held at the Lincoln Memorial. This concern has been heightened during Trump's administration by his repeated focus on showcasing the military as the main symbol of U.S. power and influence in the world.

The world renowned Blue Angels aerial demonstration team of the U.S. Air Force, which flies versions of the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 strike fighter, will show-off their precision flying skills.

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"You've got to be pretty careful with the tanks because the roads have a tendency not to like to carry heavy tanks", the president acknowledged, "so we have to put them in certain areas". "And it's going to be about this country and it's a salute to America".

As late as last week, according to two defense officials, the US military was planning to have only about 300 service members involved in the celebration, primarily from drill teams and bands.

The annual fireworks display will go off closer to the Lincoln Memorial than the Washington Monument.

It is not clear how much the parade will cost.

The event is open to the public and free of charge, but a ticket-only area in front of the memorial is being set aside for VIPs, including members of Mr Trump's family, friends and members of the military, the White House said.

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Officials told CNN that the White House has been actively involved in the planning of the celebration and had asked the Pentagon not to discuss details prior to the event. Trump formally announced his bid for re-election in June.

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