White House guests to get VIP tickets to Trump's Independence Day event

White House guests to get VIP tickets to Trump's Independence Day event
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE's "Salute to America" event on the Fourth of July will feature a VIP area near the Lincoln Memorial populated by guests of the White House.

The National Mall will be open to the public for Independence Day festivities on Thursday, but the area near the stage where Trump will speak will require tickets to gain access.

A senior administration official told The Hill that the ticketed area will include VIPs, friends and family of the administration, government officials, and members of the military.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) received a small allotment of tickets, a spokesperson told The Hill, calling it "standard practice" for similar events under administrations of both parties.

"This is routine for events like the White House Christmas Open Houses, Garden Tours in spring and fall, etc," the spokesperson said.

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CNN first reported the RNC and the Trump campaign received an allotment of tickets.

Christopher Rodriguez, the director of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency in Washington, D.C., told The Hill that security procedures to gain access to the National Mall will be largely the same as past celebrations. 

As guests get closer to the Lincoln Memorial, they will be required to present a ticket and will go through another layer of security, he said.

The limited-access area has fed into criticism from Democrats and onlookers that Trump is co-opting the July Fourth holiday to stage a political event similar to those in authoritarian regimes. The president plans to deliver remarks and has involved tanks and military aircraft flyovers to showcase the armed forces.

"July 4 is about celebrating our country, not our President. Our national holidays must be left alone," Sen Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzSenate Democrats accuse administration of burying climate change reports Zuckerberg woos Washington critics during visit Whistleblower complaint concerns Trump talk with foreign leader: report MORE (D-Hawaii) tweeted.

White House aides have insisted the president will remain apolitical in his remarks, despite his tendency to go off-script.

"The president is not going to get political," deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said on the Fox Business Network. "He’s going to celebrate the greatest country, the greatest idea in the history of the world, and that is the United States of America."

Updated at 4:48 p.m.