After President Trump opted out of an annual tradition that calls for a good-natured meeting of media and Washington D.C. on Saturday, March 2, you might be wondering: What is the Gridiron Dinner? And, why wasn't Trump in attendance? Every year, news outlets and politicians trade jabs for an evening of good-natured quips and self-deprecating humor that extends on both sides of the political spectrum. While the POTUS was noticeably absent from this year's roast, he elected to have daughter Ivanka Trump go — and share some jokes — in his stead.
On Saturday, politicians like Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, and Ivanka Trump took the mic during the 134th year of the white-tie affair. The annual roast, which is held by the Gridiron Club and Foundation, brings together important politicians as well as top reporters to come together and make light of the workings of Capitol Hill with verbal sparring all around.
Ivanka Trump, who's currently the subject of reports surrounding her and husband Jared Kushner's controversial top secret security clearance — quickly addressed her father's absence at the event. (Trump told ABC News on Feb. 8 that the president had no involvement in the process. The White House did not reply to Elite Daily's request for further comment on the matter.) On Saturday, Trump look a lighter tone, telling the crowd that the president had asked her to appear in his place "just this afternoon." "No, this isn't a joke," she clarified as the crowd started laughing.
In addition to throwing jabs at the proposed Green New Deal, Trump also referenced the criticism she's received from an interview with Fox News where she said that she doesn't think most Americans want to be "given something," even when that something is the opportunity to work.
"People want to work for what they get," she told the news outlet.
Considering that Trump is an heiress and was born into a privileged life where most of her professional success has arguably come from her family's connections, she got a lot of flack for her comment. The White House did not offer a response to Elite Daily's previous request for comment on the matter at the time.
Trump tried to make light of the critique on Saturday with a light-hearted, albeit slightly tone-deaf, joke about her family ties that had some viewers scratching their heads.
"The press seems to think it's ironic that I, born of great privilege, think people want to work for what they are given," she told the crowd. "As if being Donald Trump's daughter isn't the hardest job in the world." LOL?
According to Ivanka, her father — who memorably made jokes about everything from his own marriage to Steve Bannon at last year's dinner — was sad to miss the gathering. Trump was busy speaking at the 46th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland.
"The opportunity to poke fun at the media isn't something he passes up lightly," she explained. "That said, in some ways every day to my father is a Gridiron dinner," alluding to the fact that President Trump's relationship with the press is tenuous at best.
Trump wasn't the only speaker to show off her funny side at Saturday's gathering. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota began her segment by promising it would be "shorter than a Robert Kraft visit to the Orchids day spa." She was referencing the Patriots owner, who recently pleaded not guilty after he was recently charged with two counts of allegedly soliciting prostitution in Florida. Elite Daily reached out to New England Patriots representation for further comment on the matter, but did not hear back at the time of publication.
Klobuchar also made a joke about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into potential collusion between the Trump camp and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion, calling the investigation a "witch hunt." Mentioning that her recently announced candidacy for the 2020 presidential election, she quipped, "The Russians won't try to meet with me because Minneapolis is even too cold for them."
Klobuchar wasn't the only one who referenced the long-running investigation, as Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana also briefly made mention of it while serving up plenty of verbal spars that targeted both politicians on the left and the right, as well as news outlets.
While warning media outlets not to "jump to conclusions" about the implications of the current investigation, Kennedy quipped, "Not a single member of the Trump administration has been found to be secretly working for the United States." Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment on the jokes made about the Russia investigation, but did not hear back by the time of publication.
He also took Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders for a ride with a joke about this year's Super Bowl, telling the crowd, "If I had wanted to watch guys failing to score for three hours, I'd have taken Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders to a singles bar."
The senator also packed some somewhat good-natured punches to media outlets. He said:
They call me folksy. I think that means they're surprised I have a college degree. But I like 'em, and I trust 'em. I trust 'em — like gas station sushi. I trust 'em like Bill Cosby as the bartender.
President Trump has yet to respond to the comments from the evening, but he took to Twitter on Sunday, March 3 to blast the "Fake Media" for continuing to report on the ongoing investigation.
I am an innocent man being persecuted by some very bad, conflicted & corrupt people in a Witch Hunt that is illegal & should never have been allowed to start - And only because I won the Election! Despite this, great success!
It's unlikely that the White House and the press will be exchanging any similar banter anytime soon, as biographer Ron Chernow will be helming this year's annual White House Correspondents dinner on April 27. This marks just the third time in the event's 98-year-long history that a comedian has not been booked as a speaker.