Weather threatens Trump's Fourth of July "Salute to America" — live updates

By Kathryn Watson

/ CBS News

CBSN

President Trump's "Salute to America" Fourth of July extravaganza is drawing crowds — and criticism — as the president has turned Washington, D.C.'s biggest annual affair into a display of the nation's military might. But scattered thunderstorms and possible flash flooding are jeopardizing the show, and it remains to be seen if that will put a damper on the festivities.

The Independence Day celebration featuring tanks, military plane flyovers, and a speech from the president has been knocked for how much it will cost taxpayers and the unusual focus on the military and the president himself. Further fueling the controversy, only ticketed attendees — VIPs and others who received tickets through the Pentagon or the Republican National Committee — are able to sit in a large fenced-off area up front. The rest of the public has to arrive on a first-come, first-serve basis much farther from where Mr. Trump is speaking.

A senior White House official tells CBS News' Fin Gomez the president's remarks are expected to be patriotic, not political, in nature.

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Mr. Trump is scheduled to speak at 6:30 p.m., and his speech will be aired live on CBSN.

Schedule of events

Mr. Trump's "Salute to America" is just one of a number of various festivities on the National Mall Thursday, since D.C. puts on its own massive Fourth of July celebration each year, and has since long before Mr. Trump took office.

6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. – Mr. Trump's "Salute to America" takes place at the Lincoln Memorial. Mr. Trump is scheduled to speak, the armed forces will perform music, and military demonstrations and flyovers will take place. Gates for the event opened at 3 p.m.

8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. – Capital Fourth Concert, an annual affair on West Lawn of the Capitol, takes place.

9:07 p.m. to 9:42 p.m. – Fireworks – fireworks the president claims will be the biggest ever – light up D.C.

"Our July 4th Salute to America at the Lincoln Memorial is looking to be really big. It will be the show of a lifetime!" the president tweeted.

Our July 4th Salute to America at the Lincoln Memorial is looking to be really big. It will be the show of a lifetime!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2019

Protesters and Trump baby balloon expected on D.C. streets

Washington, D.C., is heavily Democratic, and. Mr. Trump's plans to speak at the event have prompted protesters to try and distract from the president's event.

The feminist group Code Pink is rallying on the grounds of the Washington Monument, and the now-famous baby Trump balloon is here, too. But don't expect it to be flying high above the crowds. The National Park Service told Code Pink that, in accordance with NPS rules, the balloon must be filled with cold air, not helium, and unable to achieve flight.

Small Trump balloons are also present on the National Mall.

The Code Pink rally is scheduled to go until 6 p.m., meaning it would formally end before Mr. Trump begins speaking.

In this photo taken on Tuesday, July 10, 2018, a six-meter high cartoon baby blimp of U.S. President Donald Trump stands inflated during a practice session in Bingfield Park, north London. Trump will get the red carpet treatment on his brief visit to England that begins Thursday: Military bands at a gala dinner, lunch with the prime minister at her country place, then tea with the queen at Windsor Castle before flying off to one of his golf clubs in Scotland. But trip planners may go out of their way to shield Trump from viewing another aspect of the greeting: an oversize balloon depicting the president as an angry baby in a diaper that will be flown from Parliament Square during what are expected to be massive gatherings of protesters opposed to Trump’s presence. Matt Dunham / AP

Ticketing controversy sparks criticism

The "Salute to America" event is open to the public. But, as CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett has reported, there is a specific, ticketed area for VIPs, friends and family and members of the military, although the White House has refused to clarify exactly who would get those tickets. Garrett reports many tickets will be going to GOP donors.

The Pentagon, as CBS News' David Martin has reported, was given 5,000 tickets to hand out to military families.

That's controversial because taxpayers, not the Trump campaign or the Republican party or anyone else, is funding the "Salute to America" event.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) confirmed they did receive some tickets for the event.

"It's standard practice for the RNC to receive a small number of tickets to events just as the DNC did under Democrat presidents. This is routine for events like the White House Christmas open houses, garden tours in spring and fall, etc.," a spokesperson for the RNC told CBS News' Sara Cook.

First published on July 4, 2019 / 4:31 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Kathryn Watson

Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.

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