Trump Aides Told to Skip White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Jennifer Jacobs and Justin Sink
Trump Aides Told to Skip White House Correspondents’ Dinner

(Bloomberg) -- The White House said that Trump administration officials won’t attend the White House Correspondents’ Association charity dinner on Saturday, escalating the president’s feud with the news media.

President Donald Trump was already planning to skip the affair himself, and has instead scheduled a campaign rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin. On Tuesday, the White House informed cabinet agencies that their officials are not to attend either, according to people familiar with the matter.

Politico reported earlier that White House Cabinet Secretary Bill McGinley conveyed the message to agency chiefs of staff, but didn’t say how. Asked to confirm the Politico report, a White House official said in a statement that the president and members of his administration won’t attend the dinner this year.

“We’re looking forward to an enjoyable evening of celebrating the First Amendment and great journalists past, present, and future,” Olivier Knox, President of the White House Correspondents’ Association, said in a statement in response to the report.

Trump has raged about media coverage of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, released Thursday with redactions by the Justice Department. While the report concluded that Trump nor any of his associates conspired with Russian efforts to interfere in the election, much of the news coverage has focused on the president’s repeated attempts to halt or curtail Mueller’s probe and then deceive the public about his actions.

Mueller wrote that he didn’t try to reach a “traditional prosecutorial judgment” on whether Trump had committed obstruction of justice, but noted that “Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.”

The correspondents’ association dinner is one of Washington’s biggest annual social events. Intended to celebrate press freedoms, the association recognizes outstanding journalism from the previous year and uses proceeds from the dinner to fund scholarships for aspiring journalists.

Trump is not the dinner’s only critic, however. Many news organizations invite celebrities to attend as their guests, a practice some members of the association have said detracts from the dinner’s mission. And some comedians who’ve performed at the event in the past have skewered Republican politicians, sometimes in profane terms, giving the event a partisan cast.

“The dinner is so boring and so negative that we’re going to hold a very positive rally instead,” Trump said April 5.

Comedian Michelle Wolf was criticized by some journalists and politicians last year after she mocked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, sitting nearby on the dais, and extensively used profanity. The correspondents’ association invited author Ron Chernow to address the dinner this year instead of scheduling a comedian to perform.

Many administration officials have already accepted invitations to attend the dinner this year as guests of news organizations. It wasn’t immediately clear if they would have to cancel their plans.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jennifer Jacobs in Washington at jjacobs68@bloomberg.net;Justin Sink in Washington at jsink1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, Justin Blum

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