“The president and members of his administration will not attend the White House correspondents’ dinner this year,” a White House official told our colleague Josh Dawsey. Politico reported that White House Cabinet Secretary Bill McGinley delivered the edict to agency chiefs of staff earlier in the day, telling them that the message came from Trump himself.
The emphatic “nope” of an RSVP echoes 2017, when Trump turned down the invitation to the annual event, which raises money for scholarships and promotes the work of the free press, and members of his administration followed suit.
But last year’s dinner featured a few guests from the White House, including press secretary Sarah Sanders, who served as her boss’s proxy by sitting at the table of honor at the dais in the ballroom. (That didn’t end well, you might recall, when Sanders was the target of several cutting jokes from comedian Michelle Wolf.) White House advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner didn’t attend the dinner, but they did make an appearance on the WHCD party circuit, mingling with A-list guests at Atlantic publisher David Bradley’s Friday night soiree.
This year, Trump declared the dinner “boring” and “negative,” and, as he has in years past, planned a rally to coincide with the black-tie affair. Trump is the only president to skip the dinner since Ronald Reagan, who had a pretty good excuse: He’d been shot in an attempted assassination.