- - Tuesday, March 6, 2018


The motto of the ritzy gala that is the Gridiron dinner is “singe, but don’t burn.”

But President Trump came to the white-tie banquet Saturday night armed with a flamethrower. He sprayed the room, setting anything and everything on fire — including his own family, his top administration aides, even himself.

“Nobody does self-deprecating humor better than I do. It’s not even close,” said the always humble Mr. Trump.

The night is a mostly pretentious affair, held at the Renaissance Washington Hotel not far from the White House. Members of the Washington press corps perform not-so-funny musical skits usually in a bipartisan effort to rib both sides. There are no cameras, and for many years none of the hundreds of attendees leaked a word.

All that’s changed, of course, and everything Mr. Trump said came out. Here are the best of the president’s lines from the dinner in his 35-minute roast:

On his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who recently lost his “top secret” clearance: “We were late tonight because Jared could not get through security. Ivanka, you’ve got to do something!”

On former chief strategist Steve Bannon (and CNN): “And it’s been a very tough year for CNN. They’ve lost a tremendous amount of credibility this year. And your best reporter, Steve Bannon. That guy leaked more than the Titanic. Boy, did he leak.”

On his rising poll numbers: “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 Vice President Mike Pence and his help preparing the comedy bit: “He is one of the best straight men you’re ever going to meet. … He is straight. Man.” Later, he said of Mr. Pence, “I really am proud to call him ‘the Apprentice.’ … But lately he’s showing a particularly keen interest in the news these days. He is asking, ‘Has he been impeached yet?’ I don’t like that.”

On impeachment: “You can’t be impeached when there’s no crime. I thought that was going to get a much better laugh. Melania said, ‘Use it, it’s good.’ “

On Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “I offered him a ride over and he recused himself. What are you going to do?”

On The New York Times: “I’m a New York icon. You’re a New York icon. And the only difference is I still own my buildings.”

On White House turnover: “So many people have been leaving the White House. It’s invigorating since you want turnover. I like chaos. It really is good. Who’s going to be the next to leave? [Top aide] Steve Miller, or Melania?” He added on the first lady: “She’s actually having a great time.”

On chaos at the White House: “Another calm week at the White House. We finally have it running like a fine-tuned machine.”

On former Vice President Joe Biden, or as Mr. Trump called him, “Sleepy Joe,” and a potential run for president in 2020: “I would kick his a— like no other. … Man, would he be easy.”

On rumors Oprah Winfrey might be weighing a run in 2020: “She says she’ll run only if she gets the go-ahead from the Almighty — all right, Oprah, go ahead and run.”

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 North Korean dictator 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 dissension in the GOP: “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.”

On how to reduce global warming: “We’re going to reduce the carbon footprint when we travel by shrinking the press pool so we only have room for Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs and Judge Jeanine.”

Mr. Trump closed by saying: “I just want to say this. This is one of the best times I’ve had with the media — this might be the most fun I’ve had since watching your faces on election night.”

The president didn’t attend the dinner last year but said he was eager to come this year. “I was very excited to receive this invitation and ruin your evening in person. That’s why I accepted.”

There’s still no word on whether Mr. Trump will attend the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in April. But after this performance, let’s hope so. And let’s hope he burns the place to the ground.

Joseph Curl has covered politics for 25 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent at The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.

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