During the Chairman’s Global Dinner, one of the most glittering pre-Inaugural events, President-elect Donald Trump used the occasion to introduce foreign dignitaries to Cabinet nominees and lawmakers, as well as to honor the Inaugural Committee chairman, Thomas Barrack Jr.
But this is Washington. The dinner wouldn’t be complete without a Redskins angle now, would it?
Owner Daniel Snyder was among the 500 guests invited to dine on mustard black cod and filet mignon with champignons at the exclusive reception in Washington’s historic Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium. The opportunity for hobnobbery leads one to wonder what life under the Trump administration might mean for the local team.
Here's menu at The Chairman's Global Dinner where Trump dined after speaking in front of Redskins owner Dan Snyder, Jon Voight & Steve Wynn. pic.twitter.com/nAn6n4V2yc
— Adrian Carrasquillo (@Carrasquillo) January 18, 2017
Snyder attended the black-tie dinner, although he did not contribute to Trump’s campaign. His wife, Tanya, is the Snyder family booster, donating $534.86 to the campaign in September 2015 (via TheHill.com). Snyder chose to donate $100,000 to Right to Rise, a super-PAC that supported Jeb Bush, but has Trump for an ally in the debate over the Redskins’ name.
“Honestly, I don’t think they should change the name, unless the owner wanted to,” Trump told the New York Times’ Alan Rappeport shortly after Tanya Snyder’s contribution in 2015. According to Rappeport, Trump said the Redskins name debate was another example of unnecessary political correctness.
“I know Indians that are extremely proud of that name,” Trump said. “They think it’s a positive.”
That was borne out in a Washington Post poll last May, but the U.S. Supreme Court may have the last word on that.
Snyder, a Redskins fan since birth, has vowed to keep the name. “We’ll never change the name,” Snyder told USA Today in 2013. “It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”
For Snyder, Trump’s support of the nickname and his anti-political correctness stance may translate into the relocation of the team into the District of Columbia. The president-elect, a founder of the defunct USFL and a man who was interested in buying the Buffalo Bills two years ago, could help greenlight Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s dream of returning the team to the district, Digger’s Jonathan O’Connell writes, in a new stadium to replace RFK when the Redskins’ lease at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., expires in 2027.
The District leases RFK’s land from the National Park Service and, as O’Connell notes, the political ground has “shifted” since President Obama’s Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said she was disinclined to rework the agreement for an organization with a name she felt was a “relic” that ought to be changed. Trump has nominated Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) to oversee the Interior Department, which oversees the Park Service.
Brian Kenner, Bowser’s deputy mayor of planning and economic development, told O’Connell it was “too early to tell right now” what effect the Trump administration might have on the team. Maryland could also be a player in retaining the team, since there are nearly 300 acres of national parkland just north of National Harbor. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe says his state is courting the team, as well.
Perhaps there was little long-range significance to Snyder’s presence at a dinner that also included conservative actor Jon Voight; casino magnate Steve Wynn; Rudolph Giuliani, Trump’s choice for cybersecurity adviser; and Ron Dermer, the sometimes controversial Israeli ambassador to the United States.
Staff writer Dan Steinberg contributed to this report.