Politics and patriotism mix at Trump's 4th of July event

Political allies and government officials invited to Trump’s Salute to America.

July 2, 2019, 7:35 PM

Politics and patriotism will mix on the Fourth of July as President Donald Trump plans to deliver an address at the Lincoln Memorial and give front-row, VIP access to government officials and political allies.

The Trump campaign, Republican National Committee and people in the Trump administration have been allotted tickets for distribution to the planned "Salute to America." The event will feature music, military plane flyovers, fireworks and an address by the president.

For the first time, a sitting U.S. president will address the country on the National Mall on Independence Day. Typically, the president remains at the White House and avoids the political spotlight on America's birthday. But this year Trump will be front and center to deliver an address that is "patriotic" and "celebrates the flag," according to a White House official.

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with advisors about fentanyl in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, June 25, 2019.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The president's involvement in the event and the ticket distribution has raised eyebrows about a taxpayer event being used for political purposes.

When the president was asked if his address will reach "all Americans" on Monday, he said it will but then pivoted to Democrats.

"I think I have reached most Americans," Trump said in the Oval Office before adding, "the Democrats' plan will destroy the country and it will be horrible health care."

In a statement, an RNC spokesperson confirmed that it was allotted tickets and said that it is "standard practice."

"It's standard practice for the RNC to receive a small number of tickets to events just as the DNC did under Democrat Presidents," a spokesperson said. "This is routine for events like the White House Christmas Open Houses, Garden Tours in spring and fall, etc."

The president was inspired to hold a major military parade after his visit to Paris on Bastille Day in 2017 but initial plans were cancelled last year after concerns about the cost of the event were raised. The "Salute to America" event on the National Mall will feature flyovers by Air Force One, the Blue Angels and also military tanks on display.

PHOTO: Members of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division, 1st Battalion, 64th Armored Regiment based at Fort Stewart, Ga., assist as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle is moved into place ahead of a July Fourth celebration in Washington, July 3, 2019.
Members of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division, 1st Battalion, 64th Armored Regiment based at Fort Stewart, Ga., assist as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle is moved into place at the Lincoln Memorial ahead of a July Fourth celebration highlighting U.S. military might in Washington, July 3, 2019.
Jim Bourg/Reuters

On Tuesday evening, the president tweeted about two companies that donated the fireworks for the 35-minute event. The donation to the National Park Service is valued at $750,000, according to a Department of Interior news release.

"Thanks to "Phantom Fireworks" and "Fireworks by Grucci" for their generosity in donating the biggest fireworks show Washington D.C. has ever seen," Trump tweeted. "CEO's Bruce Zoldan and Phil Grucci are helping to make this the greatest 4th of July celebration in our Nations history!"

But Bruce Zoldan, CEO of Phantom Fireworks, lobbied the president against Chinese tariffs during a recent gathering with business leaders.

"They were all sympathetic to what I was saying, but holding on to the fact that China needed to be punished for what they felt were predatory issues and unfair trade. And they said hopefully a deal will be made," Zoldan said on ABC News Live.

Independence Day celebrations in Washington will begin on Thursday with a National Independence Day Parade, followed in the evening with the Salute to America address at the Lincoln Memorial and then A Capitol Fourth Concert and Fireworks Display.

The departments involved with the president's July Fourth event have not disclosed how much money the full event will cost.

ABC News Senior Washington Reporter Devin Dwyer contributed to this report.

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