Pentagon leaders would really like it if Donald Trump left them out of his Fourth of July events. And if they have to be part of those events, they’d really, really like it if he didn’t turn those events into a large-scale reproduction of a Trump rally, complete with special seating for his VIP friends, a huge section of the National Mall set aside only for those who have an RNC-distributed ticket, and Trump himself standing at the front of it all to remind the nation that it’s not America that’s being celebrated … it’s him.
But it’s not like military leaders are going to be given a choice. Trump has already made it clear that he expects the heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines to be at his side on Thursday while planes from all four services fly overhead and military anthems blare from oversized loudspeakers. And Trump has already tweeted out exactly how the military is expected to feel about this event, saying, “the Pentagon and our great Military Leaders are thrilled” to flank Trump during his speech.
CNN reports that 5,000 of the tickets for this “not a ticketed event” were provided to the Pentagon for distribution. But how, or if, those tickets are going to be handed out to service members isn’t clear. Also, the Air Force chief appears to be on leave, so Trump will have to make do with the vice chief of staff.
Internally, the Pentagon has circulated a memo to remind everyone involved that the military is “apolitical” and can’t be seen as supporting one party over another. But that’s a policy that’s hard to enforce when the source of tickets for an event is either the Pentagon or the Republican Party. The DNC has not received any tickets for distribution. As of Wednesday, it appears that the ticketed section of the Mall—running from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial all the way down the reflecting pool—will be restricted to Republicans and the military they’ve invited to be “apolitical” by mingling with them.
All of which suggests that tanks on the mall are far from the most dangerous military aspect of Trump’s event.
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