On Saturday night, US President Donald Trump was not having the sort of evening he prefers. For starters, he was dressed in white-tie finery, not the golf-ready khakis he favours on weekends. He was surrounded by the very members of the mainstream media he routinely derides. And his entertainment was skits and musical acts, some of which poked fun at him.
Nothing about Trump's attendance at the annual dinner of the Gridiron Club, an elite group of 65 top Washington journalists, made a lot of sense. But there he was at the Renaissance Washington Hotel for the club's 133rd annual gathering, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump. Presidents since William McKinley have dutifully shown up at the Gridiron's formal clambake, which has evolved into an evening of goofy entertainment by the journalists and jokey monologues by a prominent Republican and Democrat, and a roast-like speech by the president.
Trump gamely turned some of the controversies plaguing his administration into laugh lines. Of the turmoil currently roiling the White House staff, he offered this quip: "So many people have been leaving the White House," he said. "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?" (Miller is one of his senior advisers; Melania, of course, is his wife.) Ba-dum-dum.
He joked about Jeff Sessions, his attorney general, with whom he's been locked into a public feud over his top lawyer's decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election. Trump told the crowd that he'd offered a ride to the dinner to Sessions, "but he recused himself." Sessions was also at the dinner.
Trump found himself on the other end of ribbing, too - skits by Gridiron members included Fox News host Bret Baier making cracks at the Russia probe, singing to the tune of You Can't Hurry Love with lyrics that included "But how many Russians did the campaign meet?/Don Jr. in Trump Tower, about 'adoption' - sure."
Trump seemed to particularly enjoy the skits that took aim at his enemies. A dinner guest noted that the president got a good chuckle out of a skit by CBS News' John Dickerson about former president Barack Obama's luxurious post-White House life (set to the tune of King of the Road).
The evening's other speakers had some barbs for Trump, as well. Looking to find common ground with the president, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, a Democrat, observed that "we're both a little overweight and balding - I just have had an easier time admitting it."
Landrieu also took aim at Trump's Cabinet - and, in the tradition of these kinds of everyone-is-fair-game speeches, a fellow Democrat. "I feel kind of out of place here," Landrieu said. "More out of place than Mike Pence at a men's figure skating competition. More out of place than Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin. More out of place than the Mnuchins in a Waffle House. More out of place than Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice. More out of place than John Kelly. Period."
Other than the journalists whom the president dubbed "enemies of the state," there were friendlier faces in the crowd of about 660, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Trump daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law, Jared Kushner were there, as was White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and National Security Agency director Michael Rogers. Rod Rosenstein, the Justice Department official who's overseeing the Russia probe that the president has taken to calling a "witch hunt," was also in the audience.