President Donald Trump’s political allies received some of the VIP tickets to this week’s July 4 spectacle on the National Mall, according to people familiar with the event.
The “Salute to America” ceremony, held at the Lincoln Memorial, will feature military flyovers, music and a speech from the President. While the public will be able to view the event from afar, the areas closest to the monument, where Trump will speak, are reserved for ticket holders.
The White House has declined to say how the tickets will be allocated, or even how many will be given out. An official said only that “VIPs, friends and family, and members of the military” are getting access to the cordoned-off area.
But at least some of those with the special access appear to be Trump’s political boosters.
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A spokesperson for the Republican National Committee said Tuesday they received some tickets to the July 4 event for distribution, though downplayed the significance of the move.
“It’s standard practice for the RNC to receive a small number of tickets to events just as the DNC did under Democrat Presidents,” the official said. “This is routine for events like the White House Christmas Open Houses, Garden Tours in spring and fall, etc.”
Unlike those events, the “Salute to America” will occur on the National Mall rather than at the White House, which is where presidents have celebrated July 4 in the past.
The Democratic National Committee has not received any VIP tickets to allocate for the event, a spokesman said on Tuesday.
But Trump’s presidential campaign did, a source close to the organization said. And so did some members of the administration, both inside the White House and at Cabinet agencies, according to a person familiar with the matter.
It’s not clear yet who else will fill in the VIP section, though members of Trump’s family and Vice President Mike Pence are expected to participate. So are members of the military — which is who Trump is aiming to celebrate with the event.
A source involved in the event said 500 VIP tickets and 15,000 general admission tickets would be available for the “Salute to America” event.
The Secret Service said in a statement last week it was responsible for securing the area closest to the Lincoln Memorial during the July 4 event.
“Tickets are required for this event and individuals will be required to undergo an additional level of security screening to include magnetometers,” the agency said.
On Tuesday, the White House staunchly defended the event against accusations it was turning political.
“This is a public event, it’s open to the public, the public is welcome to come celebrate our great country, the greatest Democracy, the Constitution, all the amendments,” said Kellyanne Conway, the President’s counselor.
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond and Noah Gray contributed to this report.