Democrats want investigation into cost, legality of Trump's July Fourth event

Senate Democrats are requesting the Government Accountability Office (GAO) open an investigation into the costs of President TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE's July Fourth celebration, including if it complied with legal restrictions on political activity. 
 
Democratic Sens. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallAl Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress House passes bill to crack down on toxic 'forever chemicals' MORE (N.M.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyAl Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Democrats grill USDA official on relocation plans that gut research staff MORE (Vt.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenOvernight Energy: USDA expected to lose two-thirds of research staff in move west | EPA hails Trump's work on reducing air pollution | Agency eyes reducing inspections of nuclear reactors USDA expected to lose two-thirds of research staff in move to Kansas City Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens MORE (Md.) said in a letter to Gene Dodaro, GAO's comptroller general, that they are "concerned by the impacts and the precedent of diverting limited Federal resources" for the July Fourth events.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
"Further, we are troubled by reports that preferential access to the National Mall was organized by political entities such as the Republican National Committee, which furthers the appearance that taxpayer funds were used to accomplish political objectives," they added. 
 
The letter comes after Udall accused the Department of Interior last week of refusing to answer an inquiry from lawmakers about Trump's Independence Day plans, including how the additional cost of the plans will be covered. 
 
The Washington Post reported last week that the National Park Service had redirected $2.5 million from its overall budget to help pay for the "Salute to America" event. Trump, flanked by supporters and Pentagon officials, spoke for roughly 45 minutes, focusing largely on the U.S. military. 
 
As part of the GAO investigation, the senators are asking the watchdog agency to turn over cost estimates for the events, including separating out the costs for the national Independence Day parade, Trump's "Salute to America" event, the Capitol Fourth concert and the annual public viewing of the National Park Service fireworks display. 
 
They also want cost estimates related to July Fourth events on the mall for the last three years, and information on if any activities or programs were delayed, deferred or canceled to pay for the additional cost this year. They also want to know whether spending complied with restrictions on political actives, including the Hatch Act.