Rod Rosenstein, Jay Leno chat at correspondents' weekend brunch
© Judy Kurtz

Some high-profile Trump officials helped celebrate the First Amendment on Saturday at an annual brunch ahead of the White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) dinner.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump second-term plans remain a mystery to GOP Trump to hold outdoor rally in New Hampshire on Saturday Eighty-eight years of debt pieties MORE has directed members of his administration to stay away from the main event itself, but plenty of aides have attended parties this weekend surrounding the dinner.

White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayLincoln Project hits Trump over Russian bounties Obama said Trump's use of term 'kung flu' 'shocks and pisses me off': report New Lincoln Project ad slams Trump over deaths of 'Greatest Generation' members from COVID-19 MORE and Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinSupreme Court to hear dispute over Democrats' access to Mueller materials Republicans release newly declassified intelligence document on FBI source Steele GOP's Obama-era probes fuel Senate angst MORE were eyed alongside special guest Jay Leno at the Garden Brunch on Saturday.

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The daytime soiree at the Beall-Washington House in Georgetown featured a who's who of co-hosts, including Tammy Haddad, Hilary Rosen, Jean and Steve Case, Mark and Sally Ein, Jennifer Dunn, Zac Moffatt, Greta Van Susteren and John Coale, Franco Nuschese and Fritz Brogan.

The packed, invite-only event drew some surprising pairings, with Rosenstein seen chatting with former "Tonight Show" host Leno, while Conway posed for photos with Rosen, a Democratic strategist.

Earlier this week, the White House had instructed members of the Trump administration to forgo attending Saturday's WHCA dinner at the Washington Hilton. Trump — who's referred to the "fake news media" as the "enemy of the people" — said he planned to skip the lawmaker and journalist-filled dinner for the third year in a row.

In remarks at the brunch, CNN host Don LemonDon Carlton LemonNASCAR's Bubba Wallace: 'relieved' FBI investigation found 'this wasn't what we feared it was' Bubba Wallace dismisses FBI findings: 'It's a straight-up noose' Dave Chappelle addresses George Floyd's death, rips Don Lemon in surprise Netflix special MORE told the crowd his response to people who've asked him about "certain people not being here today and not showing up for the White House Correspondents' dinner."

"If you're not here to celebrate America and the Constitution, then you don't need to be in these rooms," Lemon said.

At the brunch bash, Leno surprised U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Angela Morales-Biggs with some new wheels. The Purple Heart recipient asked if Leno was joking when he presented her the keys to a new Nissan Pathfinder — a gift sponsored by Wells Fargo and Jones Junction auto group.

"No, you think I'm a comedian that I'm joking?" Leno exclaimed to Morales-Biggs.

Leno, a well-known car enthusiast, told ITK that there have been a few car fanatics in Congress that he could talk shop with.

"[Late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainJuan Williams: Time for boldness from Biden Democrats lead in three battleground Senate races: poll Republican Scott Taylor wins Virginia primary, to face Elaine Luria in rematch MORE (R.Ariz.)] used to come to my garage. He borrowed my Corvette — laid a big strip of rubber on the front of the garage one day," Leno, who said the late lawmaker owned a '59 Corvette, recalled with a smile. "[Former Vice President Biden] come out to the garage, he poked around."

Also spotted at the event: Rep. Lauren UnderwoodLauren UnderwoodThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Rodney Davis says most important thing White House can do on COVID-19 is give consistent messaging; US new cases surpass 50k for first time The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump takes victory lap after strong jobs report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump lays low as approval hits 18-month low MORE (D-Ill.), former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, CNN anchor Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperCarson calls for local leaders to 'condemn vandalization of statues,' 'dismantle autonomous zones' Officials couldn't reach Trump on golf course to delete retweet of video showing man chanting 'white power': report Democratic officials, governors push for nationwide mask mandate as administration defends state-by-state approach MORE — who arrived with a tote bag filled with copies of "Raise Your Hand," a book written by his 11-year-old daughter, Alice Paul Tapper — former Rep. John DelaneyJohn DelaneyCoronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Rep. Rodney Davis Eurasia Group founder Ian Bremmer says Trump right on China but wrong on WHO; CDC issues new guidance for large gatherings The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says country needs to rethink what 'policing' means; US cases surpass 2 million with no end to pandemic in sight MORE (D-Md.), "House of Cards" star Michael Kelly, CNN's Kate Bolduan, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Heather Podesta, former Rep. James Moran (D-Va.), Betsy Fischer Martin, Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellDingell pushes provision to curtail drunk driving in House infrastructure package 18 states fight conservative think tank effort to freeze fuel efficiency standards Pelosi: George Floyd death is 'a crime' MORE (D-Mich.), NBC News' Ali Velshi, CNN's Kate Bennett and David Rubenstein.