First lady Melania Trump will host her first large-scale White House event Sunday, a gala for the nation’s governors
The event will take place at the same time as the Academy Awards – preventing the president from viewing any anti-Trump speeches that might occur live
Press Secretary Sean Spicer pointed out the scheduling conflict at the press briefing today when asked if the president planned to watch the Oscars
Melania Trump will be hosting her first big White House ball Sunday and it’s scheduled for the same time as Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer pointed out this scheduling conflict when asked by a reporter today if the president planned to watch the Oscars – and respond to any criticism of his administration coming from the starlets on stage.
Spicer noted how the president and first lady will be hosting the Governors’ Ball that night, which is part of the National Governors Association’s winter meeting in Washington.
‘Mrs. Trump looks forward to putting on a phenomenal event,’ Spicer said. ‘And the first lady’s put a lot of time into this event that’s going to occur, welcoming our nation’s governors to the capital and I have a feeling that that’s where the president and the first lady are going to be focused on, on Sunday night.’
‘And so we’ll go from there,’ Spicer added.
Debra Saunders, White House correspondent for the Las Vegas Journal-Review, had posed the question, bringing up what she called the ‘Meryl Streep moment,’ asking Spicer why he thought Hollywood celebrities were speaking out against Trump.
‘I have no idea, it’s a free country,’ he said, adding, ‘I think Hollywood is known for being rather far to the left in its opinion.’
Without ever using Trump’s name, Streep went after the new president at the Golden Globes ceremony last month, particularly knocking him for making fun of a disabled reporter, which Trump has said he didn’t actually do.
‘There was one performance this year that stunned me,’ the award-winning actress said.
Trump took to Twitter the next day to offer a rebuttal.
‘Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn’t know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes,’ the president said in a series of tweets. ‘She is a Hillary flunky who lost big.’
Trump added that he didn’t mock a disabled reporter ‘but simply showed him “groveling” when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!’
Critics suggested that Trump’s response was beneath the office of president of the United States.
This time around, Trump will have a glitzy distraction to keep him occupied.
The ball, which is an annual tradition, will bring governors of both political persuasions to the White House and will give the public their first peek of Melania Trump in the role of White House host.
‘It is really considered kind of the first formal state dinner-type event at the White House, particularly with a new administration,’ said Anita McBride, who most recently worked in the White House as Laura Bush’s chief of staff.
The former aide, who now is an Executive-in-Residence at American University, also said the dinner has taken place during the Oscars in past years as well.
‘This tends to be, in recent years, this dinner is always at the same time as the Oscars,’ McBride told DailyMail.com. ‘It’s always this last Sunday, or this last week in February, where the National Governors Association meeting takes place.’
The event, McBride said, is every bit as large as a state dinner, as there are 50 governors and their plus-ones, making it a crowd of at least 100 people.
The State Dining Room, she noted, holds 134, so the Trumps will likely invite a handful of other guests as well.
The ball is part of four days worth of programming for the governors, which also includes an appearance by actress Jennifer Garner on a panel discussion Saturday about early childhood education.
The first lady has still been living in New York and thus has been slow to staff up.
She has, however, hired a chief of staff, Lindsay Reynolds, and a White House social secretary, local party planner Anna Cristina Niceta Lloyd, known around town as ‘Rickie.’
Lloyd, McBride said, is ‘extremely experienced’ and called it a ‘great appointment’ and pointed to the fact that Reynolds is a White House veteran as well.
And while Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton came from their respective governors’ mansions to the White House – unlike Trump’s entrance from the business world – McBride pointed to Vice President Mike Pence, Indiana’s former governor, and his wife Karen, who likely attended the Governors’ Ball in the past and can guide the Trumps through their first big event.
The first lady, McBride said, has so far seemed ‘comfortable’ being the ‘hostess of the nation,’ as she’s entertained Akie Abe, the Japanese prime minister’s wife, and Sara Netanyahu, the spouse of Israel’s prime minister, in Mar-a-Lago and D.C. respectively.
‘I’m sure she’s very conscious of the traditions of an event like this,’ McBride said of Sunday’s dinner. ‘And what has been done before, what some of the expectations are. And how she can put her own stamp on it.’