By John Wagner
WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Friday blamed local officials for his decision to postpone a grand military parade in Washington this fall, alleging without evidence that they had unreasonably inflated the price.
“The local politicians who run Washington, D.C. (poorly) know a windfall when they see it,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I cancelled it.”
Trump said it was possible the parade could be staged next year if the cost “comes WAY DOWN” and added that with the savings “we can buy some more jet fighters!”
His tweets, which did not elaborate on his allegations about the city government, came a day after the Pentagon said the parade might be postponed amid questions about the event’s increasing costs.
D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s, D, office had no immediate comment.
In a statement, a Pentagon spokesman on Thursday provided no reason for the apparent postponement, which came amid a spate of news reports that the event, which is expected to include aircraft, vehicles, period uniforms and symbols of U.S. power, could cost up to $92 million, far more than originally estimated.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis later told reporters he “had received no such estimate” and said he would “discount that.”
Officials have been planning the event since earlier this year, when the president, apparently inspired by a similar display he observed last year in France, discussed the parade in a meeting with senior officials at the Pentagon.
In his tweets, Trump said he would go to a parade in Paris on Nov. 11 and also attend a “big parade” already scheduled at Joint Base Andrews this fall.
Such large parades have been rare in recent U.S. history, though the George H.W. Bush administration staged a military parade in Washington in 1991 after the conclusion of the Persian Gulf War.
Earlier this year, a senior official said the parade would probably cost between $10 million and $30 million. Some share of the higher cost of close to $100 million is expected to be paid by other government agencies that would take part in organizing or securing the event.