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Senate Democrats are requesting the Government Accountability Office (GAO) open an investigation into the costs of President Trump's J...

Democrats want investigation into cost, legality of Trump's July 4th event

Senate Democrats are requesting the Government Accountability Office (GAO) open an investigation into the costs of President Trump's July 4th celebration, including if it complied with legal restrictions on political activity.

Democratic Sens. Tom Udall (N.M.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.) and Chris Van Hollen (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 4th events.

"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 (NPS) 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 event and the annual public viewing of the National Park Service fireworks display.

They also want cost estimates related to July 4th events on the mall for the last three years, and information on if any activities or programs were delayed, deferred or cancelled 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.