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Mattis says he owes Trump some options on a military parade but won't share his feelings about one

February 8, 2018 at 7:44 PM

“I'm not paid for my feelings. I save those for my girlfriend,” Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Thursday that he will provide President Trump with options for staging a grand military parade in Washington but declined to share his feelings about the idea.

“I owe him some options,” Mattis told reporters. “We’ll put together options, and we will work everything from size to participation to cost, and when I get clear options, we’ll send those over to the White House, and I’ll go over and talk with them.”

Trump has long mused publicly and privately about wanting such a parade. The Washington Post reported this week that a Jan. 18 meeting between Trump and top generals in the Pentagon’s tank — a room reserved for top-secret discussions — marked a tipping point, according to officials briefed on the planning.

Related: [Trump’s ‘marching orders’ to the Pentagon: Plan a grand military parade]

Surrounded by the military’s highest-ranking officials, including Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Trump’s seemingly abstract desire for a parade was suddenly heard as a presidential directive, the officials said.

Trump’s idea has drawn fire from an array of critics, including fellow Republicans who question whether it would be worth the cost. The expense of shipping tanks and high-tech hardware to Washington could run in the millions, and military officials said it was unclear how they would pay for it.

Democrats on the D.C. Council have also balked, voicing concerns about the costs of security, cleanup and road repair.

Related: [‘Tanks but no tanks’: D.C. officials pan Trump’s proposed grand military parade]

Mattis was asked Thursday by a reporter if he has any “misgivings,” given military parades are more a staple of nations such as Russia and China.

“I'm not paid for my feelings. I save those for my girlfriend,” said Mattis, who has been outspoken on a number of other subjects, including military funding.

The inspiration for Trump’s push is last year’s Bastille Day celebration in Paris, which the president attended as a guest of French President Emmanuel Macron. Aboard Air Force One en route home from Paris in July, aides said, Trump told them that he was dazzled by the French display and that he wanted one at home.

Greg Jaffe, Philip Rucker and Karen DeYoung contributed to this report.


John Wagner is a national reporter who leads The Post's new breaking political news team. He previously covered the Trump White House. During the 2016 presidential election, he focused on the Democratic campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. He also chronicled Maryland government for more than a decade.

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