Trump tells officials not to attend White House correspondents' dinner

The White House has directed administration officials not to attend the White House Correspondents’ Association's (WHCA) annual dinner this weekend, officials said Tuesday.

"The president and members of his administration will not attend the White House Correspondents Dinner this year,” the White House said in a statement.

CNN and Politico had reported earlier that White House Cabinet Secretary Bill McGinley issued an order to agency chiefs on Tuesday morning to instruct officials to boycott the Saturday night dinner.

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani says he is unaware of reported federal investigation Louisiana's Democratic governor forced into runoff Lawmakers focus their ire on NBA, not China MORE has already announced he will hold a campaign rally in Green Bay, Wis., in order to counterprogram the dinner, which he denounced as “so boring and so negative.”

“We’re looking forward to an enjoyable evening of celebrating the First Amendment and great journalists past, present, and future,” Olivier Knox, WHCA president, said in a statement responding to the reports.

The decision to bar staff from attending the dinner is yet another sign of tension between the administration and the press corps, as the president has repeatedly attacked the media as “fake news” and the “enemy of the people” while singling out individual reporters for scorn.

Trump has skipped the dinner three years in a row, breaking with past presidents who attended the annual soirée and fundraiser in a show of comity with news outlets.

On the same morning he reportedly issued the order, Trump unleashed a torrent of criticism against media organizations’ coverage of his presidency, calling MSNBC’s morning program “Morning Psycho (Joe)," saying New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is “stupid” and calling on the paper to “get down on their knees” and apologize to him.

In a sign the relationship may have been thawing, staff were permitted to attend last year’s dinner after being barred from it during Trump’s first year in office. But tensions flared once again after comedian Michelle Wolf roasted White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders while she sat at the head table on stage.

Changes were made to this year’s dinner in response to criticism of the 2018 event. Historian Ron Chernow, who penned the biography of Alexander Hamilton that inspired the hit Broadway musical, will address dinner guests rather than a comedian.

— Updated at 1:58 p.m.