Trump would like U.S. military planes, including one of the Boeing jetliners used as Air Force One, to fly over the Mall on Independence Day, three sources briefed on the matter told the Washington Post. The president would not be aboard Air Force One during the flyover, they said.
“By the way, on July 4th in Washington D.C., come on down! We’re going to have a big day,” Trump told supporters at a “Make America Great Again” campaign rally Tuesday in Orlando, Fla., kicking off his re-election bid. “We’re going to have hundreds of thousands of people.”
The White House has not confirmed the Air Force One flyover and has released few details over how President Trump plans to change the long-standing Fourth of July festivities in D.C. The U.S. Park Police confirmed two weeks ago that the president would deliver a speech at the Lincoln Memorial during the traditional July 4 celebration on the National Mall in an event dubbed “Salute to America.” The speech would shift the National Park Service’s fireworks launch from the reflecting pool area to West Potomac Park, the Post reported.
The announcement sparked outrage among Dems who claim Trump’s speech would turn Independence Day festivities into a political rally at the taxpayer’s expense.
“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. “Forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for what amounts to a political rally is irresponsible and a misuse of funds. I strongly urge the president to reconsider his proposed event.”
Hoyer is among several House Democrats who wrote a letter to Trump on Thursday asking him to abandon his plans, saying they worry it will “create the appearance of a televised, partisan campaign rally on the Mall at public expense.” In asking the president to reconsider, Democrats accused him of wanting to make the event about himself.
The move to amend the July 4 celebrations in Washington comes after Trump’s now-abandoned idea of holding a military parade, an idea reportedly inspired after he attended Bastille Day celebrations in France in 2017. The military parade idea was dropped after senior White House and Pentagon leaders estimated it would cost $92 million.
Fox News’ Alex Pappas and Lukas Mikelionis contributed to this report.