Trump gives National Medal of the Arts to Toby Keith, Ricky Skaggs
While the House was voting Wednesday to impeach President Trump for his role in inciting last week’s violent riots at the Capitol, the commander in chief was honoring country music star Toby Keith and bluegrass singer Ricky Skaggs with the nation’s highest award for the arts.
Trump presented the National Medal of the Arts to “Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue” singer Keith and Skaggs at a closed press ceremony, an administration official confirmed.
The development was first reported by Bloomberg News.
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) January 13, 2021
Keith performed at Trump’s 2017 presidential inauguration — although the entertainer noted at the time that he had also participated in an event for former President Obama — and hasn’t shied away from political controversy in the past. He engaged in a public feud with the Chicks, the band formerly known as the Dixie Chicks, in 2003 after the group’s lead singer criticized then-President George W. Bush.
Skaggs has also reportedly praised Trump in the past, saying in 2016, “I believe Donald Trump is the right person in the right place, and that it’s prophetic.”
The National Medal of the Arts is given to artists who “are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States,” according to a government website.
The move to honor the pair of performers came as House lawmakers, in a historic first, impeached the president for a second time, exactly a week after the violence at the Capitol.
—Brett Samuels contributed. Updated at 5:43 p.m.