- The Washington Times - Monday, August 20, 2018

The Trump administration made the decision to cancel a highly controversial military parade in Washington, D.C., before receiving the Pentagon’s official cost estimate for the event, a Defense Department spokesman said Monday.

The planning cell with Joint Force Headquarters-National Capitol Region, the element of U.S. Northern Command charged with coordinating special military events inside D.C., had not completed its final cost assessment for the parade before administration officials pulled the plug, said Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning.

“The President of the United States was not briefed by any member of the Department of Defense on the [projected] cost associated with the parade,” before making the decision to cancel the event,” he told reporters Monday. Further, he noted that the reported cost figured that ultimately led to the event’s cancellation were “pre-decisional” and Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford had not been briefed on the preliminary figures.

His comments come after Mr. Mattis dismissed reports that Pentagon estimates for the parade had reached $92 million, roughly $60 million to $80 million above White House estimates for the event that had been scheduled for Veterans Day. CNBC first reported details of the astronomical figure, citing anonymous sources.

“I would discount that, and anybody who said it. I’ll almost guarantee you one thing: [The source] probably said, ‘I need to stay anonymous.’ No kidding, because you look like an idiot,” Mr. Mattis told reporters regarding reports of the parade’s cost, while en route to bilateral meetings with Colombian defense officials.

Shortly after his response, Mr. Trump took to Twitter to announce plans to cancel the parade, blaming D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser for inflating the projected costs to the city for holding the event, prompting its cancellation. In the post, Mr. Trump did not mention the $92 million cost figure.

On Monday, Col. Manning declined to confirm whether the $92 million assessment was part of the Northern Command planning cell’s work, reiterating that command officials were now setting their sights on a 2019 date for the parade. That said, Col. Manning did acknowledge “there would have been preliminary briefings” drafted by the planning cell, as part of their work to coordinate the parade’s costs and logistics.

That said, “I cannot confirm that figure was part of the planning [process],” said Col. Manning.

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