FILE - In this July 4, 2018, file photo, fireworks explode over Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol, along the National Mall in Washington, during the Fourth of July celebration. Independence Day is just over three weeks away, and nobody in Washington seems to know exactly what the July 4 celebrations in the nation’s capital will look like. President Donald Trump has stated he wants to reshape the annual event into a “Salute to America” that would feature Trump himself speaking from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
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Confusion abounds as Trump's July 4 plans remain a mystery

16 Comments
By ASHRAF KHALIL

With just over three weeks to go, exactly what's going to happen in Washington on the Fourth of July remains a subject of intense confusion.

Will the nation's premier Independence Day celebration be centered on the National Mall as usual or shift to the Lincoln Memorial, as the White House has reportedly requested? Will President Donald Trump follow through on his plans to give a speech? And if he does, will the speech be open to anyone — including protesters — or will the White House somehow restrict his audience to Trump supporters at the traditionally nonpolitical event?

The White House hasn't revealed its plans. The National Park Service, which is primarily responsible for the event, has also gone silent. That leaves the city government, which helps with security, in the dark.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia's representative in Congress, said interdepartmental planning meetings for July 4 usually begin up to three months in advance. But to her knowledge, none of those meetings has happened.

"The city is scrambling to figure out what to do, because all they have is the outline of what (the White House) wants," Norton said. She said she approached the Park Service for details but: "They wouldn't tell us a thing. You know why? Because they don't know a thing."

Mayor Muriel Bowser declined repeated requests for comment.

Independence Day normally draws tens of thousands to the National Mall for a celebration capped by fireworks. A major security overhaul was implemented following the Sept. 11 attacks, but the occasion has run smoothly for years.

The first sign that 2019's celebration may be a little different came in a February tweet from Trump announcing a special "Salute to America" on July 4 that would feature "an address by your favorite President, me!"

Last week, a National Park Service official was quoted in The Washington Post saying the White House was planning a Trump speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the event.

But since that report, both the White House and the National Park Service have refused to comment. Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst released a terse statement saying only that "We continue to work with the White House on creating a Salute to America program that will bring Americans from all over the country together in celebration of our great nation."

Norton is predicting a security nightmare, with a new location and format being instituted on short notice and the president's movements and security requirements causing chaos.

"This will be all sorts of headaches for security," she said.

The confusion extends to D.C. activists , who are uncertain about how to respond to a July 4 Trump speech. Some see a golden opportunity to disrupt Trump in a way he's not used to; others fear a trap.

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the Code Pink movement, had planned to be in Havana on July 4 to protest the Trump administration's new restrictions on travel to Cuba. But she changed those plans last week and her group is now organizing a protest.

"It's not that often that President Trump appears in a public venue in front of a crowd that's not guaranteed to be friendly," she said. "It's going to be really hard for them to control. We'll see what kind of trouble we can get into."

Others fear that an attempt to directly confront Trump or disrupt the event could backfire.

Nadine Bloch, a local organizer with a decadeslong history of protest, said a speech would provide leftist activists an opportunity to appear before TV cameras and get a large audience for their messages. But she said there's a risk that protesters could overplay their hand and end up being blamed for ruining the Fourth of July.

"It's a delicate balance," she said. "You could end up just making more enemies."

Adam Eidinger, a prominent local activist, predicted that attempts to disrupt the speech will be easily suppressed, with security concerns as a justification.

"I fully expect the president to create a VIP section right up front where only his supporters are allowed in," he said. "Any protestors will be reduced to a couple people shouting in the distance."

Eidinger said he's leaning toward sitting out this event.

"I think it's a trap to get the opposition to come out and mess up July Fourth," he said.

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

16 Comments
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It certainly would be interesting to see Trump give a speech in front of Americans outside his Midwest barn rallies. Interesting and funny. And considering most of DC dislikes him, he might be better off going south to play golf at mar-a-lago. He'd rather be doing this anyways than celebrating the 4th.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

And considering most of DC dislikes him,

He has 41% approval amongst likely voters, that is most of "America" doesn't like him.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

He will avoid situations when people will criticize him. That and the fact, he and a lot of his staff are idiots. He has a small vocabulary because he doesn't read. Most likely, he is going to try to go to Mar Lago where he doesn't have to answer to anybody, and he can scam the American public out of more money for his trips. Basically, he is fat and lazy, so he doesn't want to meet the obligations of the job. His ego is so fragile!

So far he has cost the American public over 100 million dollars for his personal trips. These trips has been to his personal resorts, so that money is going to him.

Hasn't accomplished anything at the job.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

"I fully expect the president to create a VIP section right up front where only his supporters are allowed in," 

So, I guess they will move most of DC's population to some remote area. Make DC demonstrator free and let Trump and his folks be the only ones demonstrating some more incapability, false facts and so on. Now this is gonna be that much fun.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

simon gToday 02:51 pm JST

And considering most of DC dislikes him,

He has 41% approval amongst likely voters, that is most of "America" doesn't like him.

Depends on who is conducting the poll.

With just over three weeks to go, exactly what's going to happen in Washington on the Fourth of July remains a subject of intense confusion.

That will leave the Democrat supporters lost as to where they will go to throw their nearly daily tantrums.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

I have a couple suggestions, though I know he'll ignore them all...

Go visit the troops in the desert - tell them you're proud of them - don't turn it into a partisan rally...

Go visit the southern border and see some of the immigrant children that are warehoused...help brighten their day and sooth their fear...

Go see some farmers, steel, auto, and construction workers that are out of work due to your tariffs...

Visit some of our coastal areas that will soon be under water due to climate change...

On second thought, don't do any of that - you'll just screw it up. Just stay in the White House, eat your Big Macs, and obsessively tweet about Nancy, Cher and Bette Midler...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

God, if only the media would do they job and report the news instead of hounding Trump for every little pathetic unimportant thing, people might start to listen to them every once in awhile.....yaaawn.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

The "Enema of the People", Trump, has been busy contemplating boosting his sagging profile by giving a " I have a deal" speech before the Lincoln Memorial. Leaked highlights include: ...the White man is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land... We can never be satisfied as long as the White man is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality... America has given the White people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds”,so we have come to cash this check... I have a deal that my four beautiful white children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the content of their character but by the color of their skin and their bank balances...

Whatever he says and wherever he delivers it, it won't save his tweetin' presidency from its imminent karmic trajectory into the garbage can of history.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Instead of "Independence Day" he wants to make it "Trump Day"

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Instead of "Independence Day" he wants to make it "Trump Day"

Do Liberals these day even know what “Independence Day” is? And I don’t mean the awesome movie.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Trump would be better off getting results than making endless speeches.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

zichi - Instead of "Independence Day" he wants to make it "Trump Day"

Did you just make up this late-breaking news story?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

lincolnman - I have a couple suggestions, though I know he'll ignore them all...

Trump probably doesn't know how important you believe you are.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Trump was busy today boasting about talking with the queen and the Prince of Whales.

"I just met with the Queen of England (U.K.), the Prince of Whales, the P.M. of the United Kingdom, the P.M. of Ireland, the President of France and the President of Poland.

"We talked about "Everything!" Should I immediately call the FBI about these calls and meetings? How ridiculous! I would never be trusted again.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

zichi - Trump was busy today boasting about talking with the queen and the Prince of Whales.

Ahem, Trump was responding to questions from reporters. The reporters decide which topics the public should be interested in. Their targets respond to the questions that are asked.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Trump posted his tweets, not reporters.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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