Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser On Trump's July 4th Plans

Jul 2, 2019
Originally published on July 2, 2019 6:36 pm
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

And we are now two days away from July Fourth, which, here in the nation's capital, is going to unfold a little differently than in years past.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We're going to have a great Fourth of July in Washington, D.C. It'll be like no other. It'll be special. And I hope a lot of people come.

KELLY: President Trump - he has ordered up military hardware for what he is calling a salute to America celebration. There will be flyovers. There will be tanks, and there are many questions about what this is going to cost and what it means for traditional July Fourth festivities. So let's bring in D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Mayor Bowser, welcome.

MURIEL BOWSER: Thank you.

KELLY: So I gather that the tanks are already here. NBC News has posted pictures today of Abrams tanks sitting on railcars here in D.C., ready to go on the Fourth. Can you confirm what all is headed to the National Mall?

BOWSER: I cannot. I think I've seen the same pictures you have.

KELLY: So you have not gotten a full list from the federal government in terms of what's going where.

BOWSER: No.

KELLY: Are you getting all the information it sounds like you need in order to make sure this day goes off smoothly, getting everything you need from the feds?

BOWSER: Yes. Our stance is to support the activities of the federal government for July Fourth as we have always done. The federal government has always hosted the fireworks event. And what's different is that the White House is having a ticketed event close to the Lincoln Memorial, where the president will give a speech in what they call a salute to America.

KELLY: You said your position is to support all of the federal events that they want to roll out this year - safe to say that not everybody in the D.C. local government feels that way. I saw the D.C. City Council tweeting tanks but no tanks.

BOWSER: Well, they have no...

KELLY: They're worried about damage to roads and bridges.

BOWSER: Yeah, they have no responsibility for public safety. I do. And our job is to make sure that our city represents well and that we have safe events. And if there are demonstrations, we have to make sure they are safe, too.

KELLY: What does D.C. Get out of this?

BOWSER: I don't think we get anything out of it. We always are happy to welcome visitors to go to our restaurants and our hotels. But I personally - and I'm not talking about - I don't have my hat on as mayor and the person responsible for logistics and safety but my hat as just an American who loves celebrating the Fourth of July as a non-political event - I have some concerns. And I also have some concerns about a president not celebrating the military but glorifying military might. That scares me the most.

KELLY: And what is your concern? Is it the risk that what is supposed to be a unifying, patriotic day risks turning into a campaign rally?

BOWSER: We have very few occasions where people can just, like, celebrate our country without it turning into a partisan food fight, to borrow a term from my friend from California. What does that say...

KELLY: Sorry. Which friend from California said that?

BOWSER: Senator Harris.

KELLY: Senator Harris, OK - Kamala Harris, OK.

BOWSER: But I think kind of more deeply concerning to me is, what does it mean to have a president look to dictators as an example of how to celebrate your nation with a show of your military might?

KELLY: Who are you talking about there when you're speaking about foreign leaders?

BOWSER: Well, I think that's pretty obvious.

KELLY: Referring to, like, military parades in North Korea - that type thing?

BOWSER: We have a lot of examples of military parades that I don't think are reflective of American values.

KELLY: And have you conveyed these concerns to the administration?

BOWSER: No.

KELLY: Might you between now and Thursday?

BOWSER: No.

KELLY: But you're saying them here now. Why?

BOWSER: You asked me how I felt about it.

KELLY: Fair enough. That's Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. We thank you for your time, and happy Fourth.

BOWSER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.