President James Mattis in 2020
Pence, Ivanka, Kushner no-show as Mattis gets standing ovation at elite DC dinner
Washington (CNN) Former Defense Secretary James Mattis received a standing ovation Saturday at the annual black-tie Alfalfa Club dinner after delivering a speech in which he honored the troops and talked about the importance of the US’ standing abroad, according to a source with knowledge of the event.
For the third year running, President Donald Trump skipped the annual event — but this year, so did the vice president as well as Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner.
Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen as well as White House advisers Ivanka Trump and Kushner were all on the seating chart for the head table but didn’t show at the event, attended by a who’s who of prominent political and business leaders, according to the source.
Pence’s office told CNN in a statement, “Vice President Pence declined the invitation weeks ago and was not scheduled to attend.”
CNN has reached out to the White House for comment. Mattis quit the administration in December and pointedly criticized the President in his resignation letter.
The rest of the evening was lighter in tone, with former Secretary of State John Kerry delivering a speech replete with jokes about official Washington and himself. Kerry, the outgoing president of the club — a mainstay of establishment Washington — handed over his leadership role to newly minted Utah GOP Sen. Mitt Romney at the black tie event.
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