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Date TimeMarch 03, 2018
VoiceDonald Trump poked fun at the reported chaos surrounding the White House as he traded jabs with members of the Washington press corps at the annual Gridiron Dinner on Saturday night.
Donald Trump jokes about White House chaos at Gridiron Dinner: Who will be next to leave? Steve Miller, or Melania?
“It’s been a really calm week at the White House," said the President, who skipped last year's dinner. "I was very excited to receive this invitation and ruin your evening in person. That's why I accepted."
The annual dinner of the Gridiron Club and Foundation, now in its 133rd year, traced its history to 1885, the year President Grover Cleveland refused to attend. Every president since has come to at least one Gridiron.
The organisation said the event attracted about 660 journalists, media executives, lawmakers, administration officials and military officers.
Those who included being the punchline of a joke included his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who had his security clearance downgraded last week; Attorney General Jeff Sesssions, who displeased Mr Trump last year by stepping aside from the Russia inquiry; and Vice-President Mike Pence, who has been touted as Mr Trump's successor were he to be impeached.
Nor was his wife Melania spared from the ribbing amid reports she was unhappy at claims her husband had an affair with ex-porn star Stormy Daniels. The president has repeatedly denied the claims.
"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? Steve Miller, or Melania?" Mr Trump joked, according to White House pool reports.
Members of the Washington press corps sharpened their wits for musical and rhetorical takedowns of the president, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama. Mr Trump's speech lasted more than a half hour and included plenty of one-liners.
Toward the end of his comments, Trump couldn't resist one of his favourite themes, revisiting his election night victory.
He 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."
He recalled the close race in Michigan, saying the media wouldn't call it for him, even though he had a good margin of victory. And he recounted the reaction of some in the media to his surprising win.
For much of the night, he was a good sport - laughing and applauding at times during the evening's entertainment. Hours earlier, Mr Trump had fired off a sharp tweet at the national press:
"Rest assured, Mr. President, this crowd is way bigger than Cleveland's," Club President David Lightman, congressional editor for McClatchy News, told the white-tie audience at the Renaissance Washington Hotel.
The major political parties found themselves skewered in parody songs in musical skits. By Gridiron tradition, comments came from one Republican, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and one Democrat, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
Cotton made light of what he called the source of his personality: the common touch of Harvard, the sensitivity of the Army, and the personal touch of Dick Cheney. On the Russia investigation, he said, "Everyone knows the Trump campaign couldn't collude with the RNC in Pennsylvania." The only senator in his 30s says he's looking for a role model and "the search continues."
With an eye on the president, Landrieu said: "We're both overweight and balding. I just have an easier time admitting it." Noting that Trump had a lonely job, the mayor remarked, "I understand lonely because I'm a Democrat from the South." The New Orleans official also observed, "No matter how many times we say it, we don't drain the swamps either."
Donald Trump jokes about White House chaos at Gridiron Dinner: Who will be next to leave? Steve Miller, or Melania?
The Gridiron Dinner's reputation as a night of bipartisan mirth was evidenced by those who accepted invitations, including last year's headliner, Vice President Pence. Also accepting invitations were at least eight members of Trump's Cabinet, six senators, four House members, and presidential relatives-turned-advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the foundation said in a statement.
By tradition, the evening's musical entertainment revolved around musical skits and takeoffs of well-known songs performed by journalists pretending to be newsmakers.
A cast member playing House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi turned to "I'm Against It," a song from the Marx Brothers film "Duck Soup," to explain her attitude toward Trump: "I don't know what Trump has to say/It makes no difference anyway/Whatever it is, we're against it/Even if our own side once professed it/We're against it."
A cast member playing Hillary Clinton offered her version of the song "You're So Vain," the title referring to her, but the lyrics aimed at the president: "You walked into my West Wing/My White House or so I thought/Your tie strategically dropped below your belt/Your hair it was apricot."
A charitable organisation, the Gridiron Club and Foundation contributes to college scholarships and journalistic organizations. Active membership is limited to 65 Washington-based journalists.

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