Trump Reportedly Demanding Military Tanks as Props for July Fourth Address on National Mall

As part of President Donald Trump’s ongoing efforts to lead a “jingoistic” celebration for the Fourth of July—inspired by his attendance at the Bastille Day parade in Paris two years ago—the president is reportedly demanding that tanks or other armored military vehicles be stationed on the National Mall during his planned address.

“Trump is still angling for a Giant Tank Parade and trying to figure out how to distribute tickets to his taxpayer-funded VIP section—even though the hostages in the child destruction centers lack soap and toothbrushes.”
—Walter Shaub, ethics expert

The Washington Post reported Monday, citing several unnamed sources, that “the ongoing negotiations over whether to use massive military hardware, such as Abrams tanks or Bradley Fighting Vehicles, as a prop for Trump’s ‘Salute to America’ is just one of many unfinished details when it comes to the celebration planned for Thursday.”

The newspaper added that defense officials confirmed “the Pentagon is aware of Trump’s interest in having armored vehicles involved and is weighing having static displays of them during the celebration.”

After the annual National Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C. Thursday afternoon, Trump is scheduled to deliver a speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Though the tanks aren’t yet confirmed, Trump’s event “will honor each of the nation’s five service branches with music, military demonstrations, multiple flyovers including a flight demonstration by the Blue Angels, and much more,” according to the Interior Department.

Since Trump was a guest of honor at the French parade in July of 2017, he has been vocal about his desire to host a massive military parade in the United States. Last August, the president cancelled plans to hold such a parade in the nation’s capital during Veterans Day weekend because the estimated costs were so high—which Trump, in a tweet, blamed on “the local politicians who run Washington, D.C. (poorly).”

In February, Trump again turned to Twitter to announce his plans to hold the Salute to America event on July 4, claiming that “we will be having one of the biggest gatherings in the history of Washington, D.C.” The negotiations with the National Park Service to bring in military vehicles for Trump’s speech, per the Post, are just part of the administration’s sizable role in organizing this year’s Independence Day celebration.

Trump’s reported attention to the event—particularly given pressing issues such as the detention of migrant children under inhumane conditions at the U.S. southern border—provoked sharp criticism Monday.