On August 27, Trump made his speech officially accepting the Republican nomination on the South Lawn, before an estimated 1,500 supporters were seated. The President spoke of a huge stage in front of the south portico of the White House. It was flanked by massive television screens and lit by dozens of giant spotlights – all particularly heavy devices that could be positioned on grass.
Two nights earlier, First Lady Melania Trump held her congressional address in the newly reconstructed rose garden with dozens of followers sitting in chairs. According to a White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, turf was laid on the grass as a protective measure because aides were not authorized to discuss some of the details.
“The lawn will be replaced free of charge for taxpayers,”
A Trump campaign official confirmed that the lawn replacement was paid for with campaign funds.
The construction includes other repairs and improvements that were already in the planning stages or under consideration, a White House official said.
The work lasts for several days and has broken the regular rhythm in the White House. The President was transported to Joint Base Andrews by motorcade rather than helicopter for the final flights, as Marine One cannot land on the South Lawn during construction and repairs.
In addition, White House staff prevented journalists covering events there from seeing work in progress in the Rose Garden and South Lawn by using alternative venues. The president usually holds press conferences outdoors in the rose garden, but held a meeting with reporters on Monday, instead at the north portico of the White House. It was the first time in recent years that the President held a press conference on the front steps of the residence overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue.
The Trump campaign and Melania Trump’s office declined to comment on the recording. The National Park Service did not respond to requests for comment.
The officials did not say how much the repairs would cost.
A White House official said it was not uncommon in this and previous administrations to make repairs on the South Lawn after major events like the annual Easter Egg Roll or the July 4th fireworks display.
The current construction, however, underscores the obvious way in which Trump used the presidential staging for purely political purposes to stage the Republican Convention in the White House – a move that outraged both government ethics experts and many Democrats .
In August, Melania Trump unveiled the redesigned rose garden planned by some critics. The first lady took on the renovation of the rose garden as a personal project and renovated the White House tennis pavilion.
Lisa Rein contributed to this report.