When President Donald Trump announced he would attend the annual Gridiron Club Dinner last month, many wondered whether he would be able to joke about sensitive subjects like himself and his administration.
The dinner, hosted in Washington and attended by hundreds of journalists, is similar to the White House Corespondents’ Dinner in that it is replete with roasts and laughter. But for a president who rarely provides the country with laughs – and who opted out of attending both dinners last year – the spotlight on his jokes at the dinner was all the brighter.
Add to the mix his administration’s struggles in some key policy areas, Trump’s harshly critical tweets, and an ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election that has inched closer to Trump’s orbit, and one question jumps out: Does the President ever stop to joke about it all?
Indeed he does, as only Trump can.
“My staff was concerned that I couldn’t do self-deprecating humor,” Trump said. “And I told them not to worry, nobody does self-deprecating humor better than I do.”
Before launching into a litany of humorous jokes at both his and his administration’s expense, Trump told the room of journalists that even Sen. Orrin Hatch – the Utah Republican whose over-the-top praise of Trump after the GOP passed its tax cut bill garnered him some notice – even agreed that he is the best at self-deprecating humor.
“Orrin said that ‘Donald Trump is the best at self-deprecation in the history of America. Better than Washington and better than Lincoln,’” Trump said.
Here are a dozen of the President’s top jokes from the dinner:
On Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation:
“I offered him a ride over, and he recused himself. What are you gonna do? But that’s OK.”
On the “failing New York Times”:
“You, The New York Times, are an icon. I’m a New York icon, you’re a New York icon. And the only difference is, I still own my buildings.”
On Vice President Mike Pence’s “Graham rule:”:
“The other day we were in line shaking hands with men and women, and a woman came over to shake his hand and he said, ‘I’m sorry I can’t do that, my wife is not here.’ He’s 25 years ahead of his time, folks.”
On talk of impeachment:
“Lately, [Pence has been] showing a particularly keen interest in the news these days. He starts out each morning asking everyone, ‘Has he been impeached yet?’ Mike, you can’t be impeached when there’s no crime, please remember that.”
On Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his wife, Louise Linton:
“We’re also honored to be joined by Secretary Steve Mnuchin. You saw him and his beautiful wife on stage before. A lot of energy in that room. When she asked whether or not she could sign the money, I said, ‘Steve, you’ve got a lot to handle.’ I said, ‘You can’t do that, Steven.’”
On White House departures:
“So many people have been leaving the White House. It’s actually been really exciting and invigorating ‘cause you want new thought. So, I like turnover. I like chaos. It really is good. Now the question everyone keeps asking is, ‘Who is going to be the next to leave? Steve Miller or Melania?’
On draining the swamp:
“And I know Mayor Mitch Landrieu feels right at home in Washington coming from Louisiana — I love Louisiana. Where’s Mitch, where the [expletive] are you? I love you in Louisiana. Not too bad, right? Not bad, Mitch. But, he’s used to being in that swamp. It’s a beautiful swamp. I like that swamp. This swamp I hate. Not so good.”
On Dreamers and the 2020 presidential Election:
“But we were talking about the Dreamers and quite honestly, Democrats can fantasize all they want about winning in 2020 … those are the dreamers.”
On Kim Jong Un:
“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. It’s his problem.”
On Jared Kushner’s security clearance:
“Before I get started, I wanted to apologize for arriving a little bit late. You know, we’re late tonight because Jared could not get through the security. I will tell you he is a good guy. And he has suffered. He is a great guy.”
On Omarosa Manigault-Newman:
“As I’m sure you’ve seen, we’re now riding very high in the polls, which is hard to believe considering I never get any good press. But, I just hit 50 in the Rasmussen poll. A lot of people said I wouldn’t be able to do so well after losing my so-called chief strategist. But somehow, we’re still doing great without Omarosa.”
On the “opposition party”:
“It might be hard for you to believe, but I do love gatherings like these. They give you a chance to socialize with members of the opposition party, it’s very important. And it’s also great to see some Democrats here also.”