No White House staff members will attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in “solidarity” with President Trump, according to a statement from the White House Correspondents’ Association.
Trump is the first president to skip the event since former President Ronald Reagan in 1981, who was recovering from being shot in an assassination attempt.
Trump announced on Twitter that he would not be attending the dinner on April 29, where awards are presented to journalists and scholarships are given to students.
I will not be attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017
“I will not be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!” Trump wrote on Twitter in February.
The question remained whether other White House staff would attend in his place, since typically the White House press secretary sits along with WHCA members, the president, and the first lady.
WHCA President Jeff Mason said the board “regrets” the decision of White House staffers to skip the event.
“We have worked hard to build a constructive relationship with the Trump White House and believe strongly that this goal is possible even with the natural tension between the press and administrations that is a hallmark of a healthy republic,” Mason said. “We made clear in our meeting tonight that President Trump, Vice President Pence, and White House staff continue to be welcome to join us at this dinner.”
Politico reported that there will be no Secret Service protection or security for any dignitaries that show up at the dinner because the president will not be attending.
Mason said the hotel and the WHCA would provide security in place of the Secret Service.
No entertainment has been announced for the event yet either. In previous years, the entertainment for the event was announced in February. Late-night host James Corden reportedly turned down an offer to be the comedian for the night’s entertainment, and there is the possibility the association will decide not to have a comedian or any entertainment at all this year.
“I don’t have anything to update on that but, stay tuned, it shouldn’t be too long now,” Mason said.
Several media outlets have canceled their parties for the correspondents’ dinner, including Vanity Fair, the New Yorker, TIME, People, and Bloomberg.
Full Frontal host Samantha Bee announced in January that she is planning an alternative the dinner where she plans to “properly roast the president.”