Michelle Wolf at the White House Correspondents’ dinner
Comedian Michelle Wolf has roasted President Donald Trump at the White House Correspondents’ dinner.
The second White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in a row without the president was held on Saturday night at the Washington Hilton, as Trump held a campaign-style rally in Michigan.
Wolf is just the fifth woman to host the annual dinner since the tradition of having comedians perform began in 1983.
Before Wolf, best known from her work on the Daily Show, delivered the keynote she said she wished Trump had come.
‘I like making fun of people to their face … more than behind their backs, so it would have been more fun’ if Trump were in the audience, Wolf told CBS’ ‘This Morning Saturday.’
‘None of my jokes changed. It’s just nicer to make fun of them when they’re there. I think it’s cowardly not to go.’
Before Wolf spoke, House Sepaker Paul Ryan performed in a video skit about seeking a new job after he retires from Congress at the end of his term. It was poorly received online.
Unlike last year’s event, some of the top current White House staff are in attendance this year, signalling a possible thaw in Trump’s often contentious relationship with the press. They included press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway.
Ex-White House staffers were also in abundance at the event, including former Trump advisor Omarosa Manigault-Newman, ousted Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn, ex-chief of staff Reince Priebus and former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
The DC journalism elite was also out in force, of course, including CNN personalities Jake Tapper and Don Lemon.
Comedian Kathy Griffin, who created uproar last year by posing with a fake severed Trump head, also made an appearance on the red carpet, as did outspoken anti-gun activist David Hogg.
A view of the venue during the 2018 White House Correspondents’ Dinner at the Washington Hilton on Saturday night
Sarah Huckabee Sanders attends the 2018 White House Correspondents’ Dinner at Washington Hilton on Saturday night
The crowd of 3,000 included the Washington DC journalism elite rubbing shoulders with the rich and powerful at the dinner
The Washington dinner known as ‘nerd prom’, which once attracted Oscar winners and buzzed-about stars, comes as Trump routinely slams reporters as dishonest and their work as ‘fake news’
A view of the crowd during the 2018 White House Correspondents’ Dinner at the Washington Hilton on Saturday night
Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway (left) and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (right with husband Bryan) were among the current White House staffers in attendance – a major shift from last year when none attended
Former Trump advisor Omarosa Manigault-Newman arrives in style at the White House Correspondents’ dinner
Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer looked dapper in tux and tie as he arrived on the red carpet
Former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus (left) and Trump’s former chief economic advisor Gary Cohn (right) both attended the White House Correspondents’ dinner with their wives Sally and Lisa respectively
Comedian Kathy Griffin attends the 2018 White House Correspondents’ Dinner at the Washington Hilton
Anti-gun rights activist David Hogg (right) appeared on the red carpet with his companion Scion Kelly (left)
Invitees included Parkland shooting survivors turned activists Charlie Mirsky (left) and David Hogg (right with companion)
Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti (far right) photobombed Kellyane Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders on CNN
Michael Avenatti (left) made an appearance, as did CNN host Don Lemon, seen right with his boyfriend Tim Malone
‘The president encouraged his staff to attend and so we did, we felt like it was important,’ said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a red carpet interview with CNN. ‘It’s gonna be a great night both here and in Michigan.’
As Sanders spoke next to Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti photobombed the pair, lurking over Conway’s shoulder with a grin.
Moments later Avenatti spoke to the network, blasting Trump for failing to attend.
‘I think it’s entirely disrespectful, I think it’s disrespectful to the First Amendment,’ said Avenatti, who is representing Daniels in her suit against Trump attempting to invalidate a hush agreement, in which the porn star says she was paid $130,000 to remain silent about a 2006 one-night-stand with Trump.
‘If you can’t laugh at yourself you have no business being in the position,’ Avenatti said of Trump.
Former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus (left) and former chief economic advisor Gary Cohn (right) were both in attendance and gave impromptu interviews to CNN, a frequent target of their former boss’ ‘fake news’ accusations
Reverend Al Sharpton poses with Virginia ex-Governor Terry McAuliffe and his wife Dorothy McAuliffe on the red carpet
White House press assistant Caroline Sunshine (left) and MSNBC personalities Stephanie Ruhle and Chris Matthews (right)
NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell (left) and Olympic gymnast Jordyn Wieber arrive
CNN host Jake Tapper and Inside Edition special correspondent Rita Cosby arrive at the dinner on Saturday night
CNN legal analyst Laura Coates (left) is seen, as is CNN correspondent Jim Sciutto and wife Gloria Riviera of ABC (right)
CNN Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Michelle Kosinski (left) and CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash (right)
Journalist April Ryan (left) and Republican Senator Susan Collins (right) pose on the red carpet before the WHCA dinner
Trump’s former chief of staff Reince Priebus gave his own CNN interview on the red carpet, predicting the president might even attend next year’s dinner.
‘I think there might be a little bit of a thaw occurring in the West Wing and maybe next year the President’s going to be here,’ said Priebus.
The Washington dinner known as ‘nerd prom’, which once attracted Oscar winners and buzzed-about stars, comes as Trump routinely slams reporters as dishonest and their work as ‘fake news.’
On Saturday night, Trump was in an different Washington from the Correspondents’ dinner – Washington Township, Michigan.
President Donald Trump boards Air Force One on Saturday night headed for a rally in Michigan. It is the second year in a row he has declined to attend the WHCA dinner
Trump speaks during a rally at Total Sports Park in Washington, Michigan on Saturday night, instead of attending the dinner
Trump posted on Facebook this past week that he would hold a Saturday evening rally in Michigan with his ‘favorite deplorables’ – a term that Democrat Hillary Clinton used in 2016 to describe some of Trump’s campaign supporters.
Trump’s aides skipped last year’s dinner, when some accompanied Trump to a rally in Pennsylvania where he celebrated his 100th day in office.
This year, however, even with Trump out of town, many White House aides were expected to hobnob with the journalists who cover them.
In 2017, Trump became the first president to skip the event since Ronald Reagan in 1981; Reagan was recovering from an assassination attempt.
He spoke to a large crowd in Total Sports Park in a campaign style rally.
‘Is this better than that phony White House Correspondents Dinner,’ Trump asked the roaring crowed during his speech. ‘I could be up there tonight smiling like I love when they’re hitting you, shot after shot. These people, they hate your guts.’