The White House on Wednesday pushed back on reports that the Pentagon is planning a military parade “like the one in France,” at President Donald Trump’s request.
“I think we’re all aware in this country of the President’s affection and respect for the military,” Defense Secretary James Mattis said during the White House press briefing Wednesday. “We’ve been putting together some options. We’ll send them to the White House for a decision.”
Mattis’ timid response stands in contrast to a Tuesday report from The Washington Post that the Pentagon is actively planning for a military parade after Trump said “I want a parade like the one in France” during a meeting with top Pentagon generals last month.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was also non-committal in her response to questions about the report. When CNN’s Pamela Brown asked why Trump doesn’t just visit the troops in Iraq or Afghanistan instead of putting on a show, Sanders said “nothing has been decided or locked in stone.”
“This is in the early discussion phases,” she said. “It’s something the President is looking at, not just a way that he can, but that the entire country can come together and show support and honor our military. … We haven’t made a final decision. The President is exploring different ways that he could highlight and show the pride we have in the military, people that have served and sacrificed to allow us all the freedoms we have.”
When asked whether it was true that Trump’s request was more of a directive than a question, Sanders said “no.”
“We’re simply exploring options. It’s way too far speculation to start weighing in on whether or not we think certain things are appropriate when nothing’s been decided and it’s literally in a brainstorming session,” she said.
An unnamed Pentagon official who spoke with the Post said that they were looking at various dates for a parade and said they preferred Veterans Day because the event would be less associated with the President or politics.
Trump has been a fan of military parades ever since he attended a similar event on Bastille Day in France. At the time, he told reporters that he’d like to do something similar in the U.S. on July 4.