In The Know

Clarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump

Various political and government figures turned out at the White House on Friday as President Trump hosted Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for an elaborate state dinner, only the second formal state visit so far during Trump's presidency.

 

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Vice President Pence and second lady Karen Pence all made their way through the guest arrivals entryway at the dinner on Friday.

 

Several Trump Cabinet members also attended the event in glamorous tuxedos and gowns, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General William Barr, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, among others.

 

The gathering is just the second state dinner held by Trump since he took office. It was more than a year ago, in April 2018, that Trump welcomed French President Emmanuel Macron for the inaugural state visit of his administration.

 

By contrast, previous commanders in chief have traditionally played host at multiple state dinners - former President Obama helmed five state dinners in his first two years in office.

 

Many of the high-profile guests at the state dinner Friday night stayed mum when asked about pressing world events.

 

When reporters asked about a potential trade deal with China, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer quipped, "You know I never talk."

 

Pompeo, asked about Iran, replied, "Good evening, everyone."

 

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway declined to answer shouted questions about the absence of her husband, George Conway - a critic of the president - at the dinner.

 

Trump chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow was asked to comment about the economy, replying, "I think it's great!"

 

ITK asked golfing legend Greg Norman - who's teed off with Trump before - what he'd say to critics who say the president spends too much time on the links.

 

"No, not at all," Norman said with a smile. "Nobody golfs too much," he added.

 

Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, was asked about his controversial appearance on CNN the previous night.

 

He responded with a hearty, animated laugh, before making his way into the dinner. Giuliani was joined at the event by his guest, Dr. Maria Ryan.

 

Also eyed at the White House for the state dinner: former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Fox Business Network's Lou Dobbs, Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), NewsCorp co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, and celebrity chef Curtis Stone.

 

After guests arrived, they were poised to be whisked away for the dinner, held outdoors in the Rose Garden. The space will be decked out in green and gold, the national colors of Australia. Details for the event were "carefully selected by the first lady to reflect the strong ties between the United States and Australia," first lady Melania Trump's office said in a statement ahead of the dinner.

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