White House confirms plans for July 4 celebration in D.C.

On May 26, Democratic lawmakers from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia urged Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt not to hold another celebration to save taxpayer money and to avoid the spread of coronavirus.

Trump first hosted a Salute for America on July 4, 2019, bringing troops, tanks, helicopters and fighter jets to the streets of the nation’s capital. Last year’s event led former military leaders to bemoan Trump’s ceremonial use of the armed forces and drew the ire of Democrats like D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

The July Fourth event, which will also be hosted by the Department of the Interior, comes amid renewed accusations that Trump is politicizing the American armed forces. The president was widely criticized for forcefully removing peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square earlier this month to pose for a photo-op alongside Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, who later apologized.

The president attended the West Point military academy’s graduation ceremony last week, but largely steered clear of controversy.

The day before this year’s planned “Salute to America,” Trump will be in South Dakota to watch a military flyover at Mount Rushmore. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said social distancing will not be enforced at the July 3 event.