Donald Trump was the closing speaker at Saturday night’s 133rd annual Gridiron Dinner, an annual gala that politicos, rich people, and journalists wouldn’t dream of missing.
First lady Melania Trump was with her husband at the head table, as was Vice President Mike Pence, his wife, Jared and Ivanka, and eight cabinet members, including embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “Attorney General Sessions is here with us tonight, Trump said. “I offered him a ride over, and he recused himself.”
Trump was late, he joked, “because Jared could not get through security,” referring to the fact that Kushner just had his security clearance downgraded. “Ivanka, you’ve got to do something.”
Trump spoke for 33 minutes, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, a mix of what seemed prepared zingers, insults (some good-natured, some decidedly vicious, as if he couldn’t discern the difference), and the same sort of rambling comments we hear whenever he goes off-script.
At one point, Trump said,
So many people have been leaving the White House. It’s actually been exciting and invigorating….I like turnover. It really is good. Now, the question everyone keeps asking is, “Who’s going to be the next to leave? Steve Miller or Melania?”
Turning toward the first lady, Trump—clearly aware that the line did not get the reception he expected—asked her,
Was that terrible, honey? But you love me, right?
She merely shrugged. She did not appear to be joking.
Melania has not stayed a single night with Trump since news of his year-long adulterous affair with a porn star was revealed, appearing with him in public very sparingly, and refusing to hold his hand.
.@realDonaldTrump just humiliated his wife at the Gridiron Club dinner. I hope someone posts his speech.
— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) March 4, 2018
Unfortunately, no cameras are allowed inside the white-tie Gridiron event.
He began his remarks by acknowledging that he’s not known for self-deprecating humor:
My staff was concerned heading into this dinner that I couldn’t do self-deprecating humor. They were worried about it. They said, “Can you do it?” And I told them not to worry. Nobody does self-deprecating humor better than I do.
Trump also addressed accusations that he is trying to undermine the US democracy:
I have great respect for the various branches of government: the executive, the legislative, the judicial—very important—and last, Fox News.
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