WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump made his decision to cancel a planned parade honoring veterans and the 100 anniversary of the end of World War I without hearing any cost estimates from the Pentagon, officials said Monday.
“That’s correct,” Pentagon spokesperson Col. Rob Manning told reporters Monday. “I can confirm for you that the president of the United States was not briefed by any member of the Department of Defense on the cost associated with the parade, before making the decision to cancel the event.”
Neither Manning, Defense Secretary James Mattis nor Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had received any cost estimates.
Mattis alluded to that last week, telling reporters that “I missed having had a chance to review anything” in regards to parade cost estimates. “I don’t think I’ve made the final decision,” Mattis told reporters. “Whoever told you that is probably smoking something that’s legal in my state but not most states, OK?”
The defense secretary is a native of Washington state, where marijuana use can be legal.
Last week Trump cancelled the parade, saying a $92 million cost estimate for the event was too expensive and had been in part inflated by the District of Columbia government.
On Thursday, the Pentagon announced the parade — scheduled for Nov. 10 — had been postponed, with options to be reviewed in 2019.
That decision came roughly four hours after reports surfaced that parade estimates had risen to $92 million from the original $14 million given earlier this summer.
Manning said Monday that he could not confirm that number or if it was in the top range of options, in part because the planning for the parade had not progressed to the point and that any number cited “was pre-decisional ” and that discussions on the parade “had not matured to that point.
“The planning committee for the parade had not reached a point where they have briefed senior leadership in the department,” Manning said. “It was moving forward.”
In February White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the parade cost could be between $10 million and $30 million, during congressional testimony.
Last week, District of Columbia officials said $21.6 million in parade costs would go toward police activities, which included $13.5 for the police department for public safety, crime prevention, crowd control, airspace safeguard and traffic flow. Emergency services, fire and transportation were budgeted at $5.8 million, according to the estimates.
From the federal government, initial reports had budget lines of $50 million from the Defense Department and $42 million from the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies.
Mulvaney said Sunday on “Fox News Sunday” that factors other than costs triggered cancellation of the military parade. He did not outline those reasons.
“If the parade had been canceled purely for fiscal reasons, I imagine I would have been in the room when that decision was made, and I wasn’t,” Mulvaney said. “So my guess is there were other contributing factors.”