President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE awarded the National Medal of Arts to Jon Voight, an Oscar-winning actor and outspoken supporter of the president, along with several others during a ceremony at the White House on Thursday.
Also among those honored were country-bluegrass musician Alison Krauss, philanthropist Sharon Percy Rockefeller and the musicians of the U.S. military. The event marked the first time Trump has awarded the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal since he took office in January 2017.
“Each of today’s recipients has made outstanding contributions to American society, culture and life. They exemplify the genius, talent and creativity of our exceptional nation,” Trump said in remarks from the East Room of the White House, where he was joined by first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill’s Morning Report – Wild Wednesday: Sondland testimony, Dem debate take center stage Billy Ray Cyrus thanks Melania Trump after meeting with family of cyberbullying victim Trump rips speculation about his health after Walter Reed visit MORE and several members of his Cabinet.
Trump on Thursday also awarded the National Humanities Medal to author James Patterson; the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank; University of Texas educator Teresa Lozano Long; and chef Patrick O’Connell, founder of local restaurant The Inn at Little Washington.
Trump singled out each of the recipients for their achievements, beginning his remarks describing Voight as an “actor and friend” and “one of America’s greatest living legends in cinema.”
Trump cheered Voight’s performances in movies like “Midnight Cowboy,” “Mission Impossible,” and “The Champ” — which he called one of the best boxing movies in history.
“Everyone was crying at that movie. I tried not to, Jon. It wasn’t easy,” Trump said. “We love having you here, especially because it’s someone that I happen to really like.”
Pres presents Jon Voight with National Medal of Arts. Also singer Alison Krauss. pic.twitter.com/2c4jz4TSTS
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) November 21, 2019
Voight is one of a handful of vocal supporters of Trump in Hollywood, releasing a video message earlier this year describing Trump as “the greatest president of this century.”
Trump described Patterson as “another friend” and joked about his book sales being among the highest of all time.
“You’ve sold a lot more books than me,” Trump said. “The Bible has you by a little bit.”
Before Trump made remarks about Krauss, bluegrass music began playing in the East Room. The president thanked Krauss, who has received 27 Grammy awards throughout her career, “for sharing your wonderful gift with the world.”
Trump also noted the size and reach of the musicians of the U.S. military honored on Thursday, saying it the honorees including 6,656 members who form 136 bands across the world.
Trump noted the bands play more than 35,000 times each year, including in war zones, at military funerals and other places.
“They’re not just magnificent performers,” Trump said. “They’re also courageous warriors.”
Vice President Pence, Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinHillicon Valley: Google to limit political ad targeting | Senators scrutinize self-driving car safety | Trump to ‘look at’ Apple tariff exemption | Progressive lawmakers call for surveillance reforms | House panel advances telecom bills Trump says he’s ‘looking at’ Apple tariff exemption during tour of Texas plant Trump tax breaks for low-income neighborhoods draw scrutiny MORE, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosEducation Department releases wage, debt data for specific college majors DeVos forgives 1,500 student loans amid federal lawsuit Warren campaign launches ‘a calculator for the billionaires’ after Gates criticism MORE and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley were among those present for the ceremony Thursday afternoon.
Trump recognized each of them at the outset of his remarks, in particular praising Milley for his role in organizing the U.S. military raid that led to the death of ISIS Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last month.