- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The National Service will reportedly be diverting about $2.5 million worth of entry and recreation fees for President Trump’s Fourth of July “Salute to America,” two anonymous sources familiar with the matter told The Washington Post.

According to the former Park Service deputy director, Denis Galvin, the normal Fourth of July display on the National Mall costs the Park Service $2 million, but with the addition of a military flyover, a parade of tanks and a speech by President Trump, that cost is expected to rise.

“We have some incredible equipment, military equipment on display — brand new. We’re going to have a great Fourth of July in Washington, D.C. It’ll be like no other,” Mr. Trump said Monday.

The president has received backlash from several officials who worry that the event, which has typically been unaffiliated with the president, will attract protesters, drive up costs and turn the normally nonpartisan event into a taxpayer-funded rally for Mr. Trump.

Reports have also surfaced that the Republican National Committee has received exclusive tickets for the celebration, tickets that were not offered to their Democratic counterparts.

Sen. Tom Udall said in a statement that it is “unacceptable that the Interior Department is failing to inform Congress about how it plans to spend taxpayer money to fund the president’s lavish July Fourth plans, which reportedly include special access to the National Mall for the politically connected.

“The American people deserve to know how much of their money the president is spending to turn their July Fourth celebration into a de facto campaign rally,” the New Mexico Democrat said. “All reports indicate that the president is planning to turn a national day of unity into a day of vanity — trying to use the military for political purposes and doling out perks to his political backers — at the taxpayers’ expense. We need answers.”

President Trump has said the cost of the Independence Day event “will be very little compared to what it is worth.”

“We own the planes, we have the pilots, the airport is right next door (Andrews), all we need is the fuel. We own the tanks and all. Fireworks are donated by two of the greats. Nice,” he tweeted.

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