Trump Wisecracks Elicit Lukewarm Response at Gridiron Club dinner

President Donald Trump (File picture as the event was NO PRESS)

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Washington, DC – President Donald Trump was Saturday night live at the annual Gridiron Club dinner and leaked the upcoming US talks with North Korea when he said, “I won’t rule out direct talks with Kim Jong Un. I just won’t. As far as the risk of dealing with a madman is concerned, that’s his problem, not mine. … He must be a fine man.”

Within hours, the news came from South Korean media that Seoul will send senior envoys to Pyongyang. The office of the South Korean President Moon Jae-in was cited as announcing plans to send a five-member delegation led by Chung Eui-yong, head of the National Security Office, to North Korea. The delegation includes the National Intelligence Service’s chief Suh Hoon and Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung.

President Trump spoke for more than half an hour, at the Gridiron Club (established 1885) sponsored annual dinner event where the program usually includes poking fun of politicians from both parties, particularly the sitting president. Trump tried his best to crack jokes but there was an awkward silence at some of his “wisecracks.”

Comparing his job on the little screen to the present White House gig, President Trump said, “Many people have asked me how my time as a reality TV star prepared me for the presidency, the truth is there’s very little overlap between the two. Very little. In one job, I had to manage a cutthroat cast of characters desperate for TV time, totally unprepared for their … jobs, and each week afraid of having their asses fired. In the other job, I was the host of a smash television hit. … Television’s so easy compared to this.”

New York Times got a hit as Trump said he and the newspaper both are New York City icons — “the only difference is I still own my buildings.”

On the subject of climate change and journalists, President Trump was elaborate: “I know we all came here tonight to have fun and tell jokes, but I also think we need to discuss the issues. Issues are very important. … For example, we’ve got a new plan to tackle global warming, one of my favorite subjects. We’re going to reduce the carbon footprint when we travel by shrinking the press pool so that we only have room for Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, and (others).”

Taking credit for a successful completion of Winter Olympics in South Korea, President Trump said, “We did save the Olympics. President Moon gave us a lot of credit, said, ‘It was—it was President Trump that made the Olympics successful because there were a lot of people that wanted to go into that stadium with the potential of a problem—a big problem—and he gave us all a lot of credit.”

Citing President Moon as saying, “’Without President Trump and his strong attitude they (North Koreans) would have never called up and said, ‘Hey, we’d love to be in the Olympics together.’ And that’s true.”

Last year, President Trump avoided attending any press dinners but on this night, he minced no words telling the Gridiron Club journalists that he came personally this year to “ruin your evening in person.” With this attendance, there is still no confirmation from the White House for the late April White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) Dinner.

The traveling journalists in the press pool were asked to wait in a holding room at the hotel. Interestingly a pool journalist noted that initially, the press holding room had a full bar, but someone “wisely” decided to remove the alcohol.

According to a copy of the Gridiron dinner program. the sitting arrangement at the head table in front of the audience (from left to right when facing the stage) was:

Sarah Huckabee Sanders

The Chief of the National Guard Bureau

The Commandant of the United States Marine Corps

Kristin Roberts

The Secretary of the Air Force

Ivanka Trump

The Secretary of Transportation

The Secretary of HHS

Cheryl Landrieu

Secretary of the Treasury

Sen. Tom Cotton

Kevin McClatchy

First Lady Melania Trump

President Donald Trump

Gridiron Club and Foundation Pres. David Lightman

Mrs. Robin Lightman

Vice President Mike Pence

Mrs. Pence

Craig Forman

Mayor Mitch Landrieu

The Attorney General

Mrs. Anna Cotton

The Secretary of Commerce

The Secretary of Labor

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs

The Secretary of Homeland Security

Jared Kushner

The Chief of Staff of the United States Army

The Administrator of the EPA

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