Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has disputed the latest cost estimates that surfaced Thursday for President Trump’s military parade.
While en route to Bogota, Colombia, Mattis told reporters that no cost estimates for the parade had reached the number of $92 million, adding “whoever told you that is probably smoking something that’s legal in my state [of Washington], but not in most states,” according to a USA Today report on Friday.
“I have not seen an estimate of $92 million,” Mattis said. “The estimates are coming to me. I’ve given initial guidance, but I’ve received no such estimates.”
“I haven’t received an estimate of $10 million or $92 million,” he noted.
Mattis’ remarks follow a Thursday report by the Associated Press in which an anonymous U.S. official claimed the estimate for President Trump’s military parade had climbed to $92 million – more than triple that of prior estimates.
The official claimed that approximately $50 million of the budget would cover Pentagon’s costs for “aircraft, equipment, personnel and other support.” Most of the remaining $42 million was said to cover security costs, and the costs to other agencies.
A few hours later, another report came out to announce a statement by Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, in which he said the parade would be postponed until 2019.
“The Department of Defense and White House have been planning a parade to honor America’s military veterans and commemorate the centennial of World War I,” the Pentagon statement said, according to Fox News. “We originally targeted Nov. 10, 2018 for this event but have now agreed to explore opportunities in 2019.”
President Trump tweeted Friday morning, saying: “The local politicians who run Washington, D.C. (poorly) know a windfall when they see it. When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I cancelled it.”
The local politicians who run Washington, D.C. (poorly) know a windfall when they see it. When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I cancelled it. Never let someone hold you up! I will instead…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2018
Mattis explained to reporters that he had seen “approximate cost[s] for certain elements of it, but those were very premature.” He added that even when he received approximate costs, it came with a warning that they were not finalized.
“We will get you the cost estimate – I have not seen it yet,” he said. Mattis said he didn’t think such estimates could even be conceived before plans were finalized. He added that the Pentagon comptroller is very thorough and would not release estimates so early.
“I’m not dignifying that number with any reply. I would discount that,” he reiterated over the $92 million estimate.
“I can guarantee you one thing, they probably said ‘I need to stay anonymous,’” Mattis said of the anonymous official who provided the estimate to the AP.
“No kidding, because you look like an idiot,” he added. “And number two, whoever wrote it needs to get better sources. I’ll just leave it at that.”
“I guarantee you there’s been no cost estimate to me,” Mattis concluded.