WASHINGTON – Amid political tests and tensions, President Donald Trump spent Wednesday's July Fourth holiday golfing, tweeting and hosting a White House picnic for military families.
"Melania and I are honored to celebrate American independence with the heroes who protect American independence," Trump told troops and family members who gathered on the White House lawn for barbecue and fireworks.
Earlier in the day, the president spent nearly four hours at the Trump National Golf Club in suburban Virginia on a 94-degree day.
Trump also found time for some holiday tweeting, including another demand that oil-producing countries increase production to offset rising U.S. gas prices. "The OPEC Monopoly must remember that gas prices are up & they are doing little to help," the president tweeted.
Other tweets hailed Independence Day itself.
In addition to a general salutation – "Happy Fourth of July....Our Country is doing GREAT!" – Trump tweeted out a video in which he salutes the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the American soldiers who won the revolutionary war against Great Britain.
Trump also saluted current members of the U.S. armed forces – "truly special people" – saying "we are in awe of their courage, and we are eternally in their debt."
The low-key holiday came as Trump prepares for high stakes events in the coming days.
The president is deciding whom to nominate to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, a decision he said he will announce Monday; the next day, Trump is scheduled to leave for Europe on a trip that includes a NATO summit and a meeting with Russia President Vladimir Putin.
Some of Trump's critics, meanwhile, marked the Fourth of July by protesting administration policies ranging from immigration to the imminent Supreme Court selection.
"Everywhere we look, our most fundamental values are under attack," said Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez in his Independence Day statement.
"Thousands of children have been separated from their parents at our southern border," Perez said. "At our highest court, workers' rights are being taken away, voting rights are under assault, Muslim Americans are being discriminated against for their faith, and women's right to choose is under threat like never before."
The president and first lady Melania Trump wrapped up the day at the picnic for military families, who were able to watch fireworks from the South Lawn of the White House.
While praising members of every branch of the military, Trump also threw in a plug for his proposed "space force," saying that "everyone's very excited" about the idea.
In tying Independence Day to a salute to the U.S. military, Trump said: "American liberty has been earned through the blood, sweat, and sacrifice of American patriots."