Trump stuck taxpayers with $150K bill for 'clearly illegal' Fox News event at Lincoln Memorial: report
Donald Trump (center) (Photo by Jim Watson for AFP)

According to a report from the Washington Post, based on documents obtained by a watchdog group, a Donald Trump town hall event held in the chamber of the Lincoln Memorial cost taxpayers approximately $150k or more with critics also calling the use of the space "clearly illegal."

At issue was a Trump interview with Fox news personalities Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum on May, 30, 2020 that was supposed to be held on the steps of the venerable memorial but was moved inside despite federal regulations banning such use.

As the Post's Jonathan O'Connell, wrote, "In the spring of 2020, National Park Service personnel were preparing for an event President Donald Trump was holding with Fox News to address the nascent covid-19 pandemic from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, site of historic protests and inaugural concerts. But, first, they had to brief Trump on the plans."

As the report notes, the former president's involvement led his handpicked interior secretary David Bernhardt to overrule federal regulations and approve moving the event.

According to documents and emails acquired by Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice, the president's demand set off chaos the night before as changes had to made that resulted in a U.S. Secret Service official apologizing "... to colleagues for the planning process, calling it a '$#!t show.'"

"The email is among hundreds of pages of newly released government documents that help fill in the picture of how officials from multiple government agencies worked to engineer the event at the Lincoln, one of the many norm-defying moments of the Trump presidency. They show that the Park Service provided security personnel at a cost of nearly $150,000," the report states. "All presidents use national parks as backdrops for photo opportunities and promotional events, said Kristen Brengel of the National Parks Conservation Association, a nonprofit organization that works to protect the national park system... But, by siting the town hall inside the memorial, with Fox News, Brengel said, the Trump administration held an event in defiance of federal regulations in a space that is hallowed ground to many Americans."

“This wasn’t a national emergency to do an event inside the Lincoln Memorial. This was the commercial use of a park site in the middle of a pandemic,” Brengel explained.

Verheyden-Hilliard shot down Bernhardt's "record of determination" approving the use, stating, "All they are really doing is putting window dressing on something that is clearly illegal.”

The report also notes that there was some damage to the American landmark, stating, "A Park Service memo after the event said the production crew had 'generally followed previously agreed to requirements.' But it also said: 'Inside the Lincoln Chamber there are several scratches and gouges on the flooring. Photo documentation taken and referred to the park’s senior management.'"

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