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Trump July 4th celebrations to proceed despite critics

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Trump July 4th celebrations to proceed despite critics

Trump July 4th celebrations to proceed despite critics

U.S. President Donald Trump will preside over his controversial July Fourth Independence Day celebrations with a speech about patriotism and a show of military might that critics say is politicizing an important holiday and wasting taxpayer dollars.

Conway G.

Gittens reports.


Trump July 4th celebrations to proceed despite critics

The stage is set, the bunting is in place and the tanks are in position.

But the controversy surrounding President Trump's July 4th parade shows no signs of letting up.

President Trump doubled down in a series of Tweets Thursday - "People are coming from far and wide to join us today and tonight for what is turning out to be one of the biggest celebrations in the history of our Country, SALUTE TO AMERICA." But the President's July Fourth Independence Day celebration - marked by a show of military might and what the White House claims will be a patriotic speech - has sparked criticism Trump is hijacking this important day by politicizing the holiday and wasting taxpayer dollars along the way.

Tempers flared on both sides of the debate as the clock ticked closer to the start of the celebrations.

The controversy laying bare the divides on a day when Americans are supposed to be uniting to celebrate their independence.

SOUNDBITE: (English) KAREN (WHO DECLINED TO GIVE HER LAST NAME), WASHINGTON AREA RESIDENT, SAYING: "Well, I think it's way over the top this year.

I'm not in favor of spending our tax dollars on an event that is set up basically to stroke the ego of a narcissistic person, namely Donald Trump." SOUNDBITE: (English) STEVE COVINS, TOURIST FROM FLORIDA, SAYING: "It being Independence Day, I suppose the military aspect of the fight for independence does sort of coordinate with a tank display, say..." The Trump administration so far has refused to say how much the day's events will cost, which will include a tank display, fireworks and a flyover by Air Force One.

But the Washington Post reported the U.S. National Park Service diverted $2.5 million in park entrance fees to help pay for the President's celebration.

That caught the eye of Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, who used Twitter to bash the President: "This is what authoritarians do @realdonaldtrump is taking $2.5 million away from our national park service to glorify himself with a spectacle of military tanks rolling through Washington." But it's not just what will happen today that will be scrutinized.

Tonight's speech will be under the spotlight for any signs the President goes off script and uses it as a campaign-style rally, which some watchdogs say would cross the line by using taxpayer dollars for campaigning.

But some are in the nation's capital with a wish politics could be laid aside for this one day to remember a time when the country was united to confront a common enemy - not one another.

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