The Fourth of July celebration President Trump is apparently producing for the National Mall in Washington, D.C., will have a VIP section and yes, it will have tanks. An Associated Press photographer saw two M1A1 Abrams tanks and two Bradley Fighting Vehicles at a railyard on the edge of Washington on Monday, transported up from Fort Stewart, Georgia, for the event, a U.S. official told AP.
Trump told reporters Monday that "we're going to have some tanks stationed outside" in "certain areas," adding, "we have the brand new Sherman tanks and we have the brand new Abram [sic] tanks." The U.S. military has not used Sherman tanks since the 1950s. A plant in Lima, Ohio, is refurbishing Abrams tanks.
Engineers are examining the Mall this week to see if the Abrams tanks, which weigh more than 60 tons, will harm the site or the rooms under the Lincoln Memorial, The Washington Post reports. Extended fireworks displays and planned flyovers by Air Force One, the Navy Blue Angels, and perhaps other military aircraft will freeze air traffic to and from Reagan National Airport for two hours on Thursday. The Pentagon hasn't said how much any of this will cost.
It's unclear how VIP tickets are being apportioned, though HuffPost reports that the Republican National Committee and Trump political appointees have been offering tickets to major GOP donors. The Democratic National Committee says it wasn't given any tickets to hand out. "He's going to have tanks out there, it's going to be cool," one RNC fundraiser who declined to take proffered tickets joked to HuffPost. "He wants to have a parade like they have in Moscow or China or North Korea."
No president has participated in the capital's Independence Day event in decades, and there's some concern Trump will inject partisan politics into his speech, as he often does. One senior White House official told HuffPost that Trump's "speech will not be political," but a White House aide said there's not much Trump's staff can do if he veers off-script, saying, "We can only do what we can do."