Donald Trump awarded country music singer Toby Keith the National Medal of the Arts as he was being impeached for an unprecedented second time on Wednesday.
The outgoing president presented Keith, 59, with the nation’s highest award for the arts during a ‘closed press ceremony’ in the East Room of the White House yesterday.
Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer uploaded an image to Instagram of a Trump standing next to Keith, who appears to be sporting a somber expression.
The ceremony, reportedly over within ‘just minutes’, came as the House, led by Nancy Pelosi, voted to impeach Trump for a second time for his role in ‘inciting insurrection’ in last week’s violent riots at the Capitol.
While the president was unable to post about the ceremony on social media, having been banned from multiple platforms, Keith, meanwhile, has made no mention of receiving the high presidential honor on any of his official pages.
Keith, famed for his patriot hits such as ‘Courtesy of the Red White & Blue’, performed at Trump’s inauguration ceremony in 2017, however has never publicly endorsed the president.
The country star spoke out shortly after the inauguration ceremony, defending his decision to appear, saying: ‘I don’t apologize for performing for our country or military.’
Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer uploaded an image to Instagram of Trump standing next to Keith during the ceremony
Keith, famed for his patriot hits such as ‘Courtesy of the Red White & Blue’, performed at Trump’s inauguration ceremony in 2017 (above)
The reason for Keith’s silence is currently unclear. A representative for the singer has not yet returned a DailyMail.com request for comment.
In the program notes for the ceremony, as shared by Spicer, Keith was handed the award for ‘making extraordinary contributions to American music.’
‘Rising from humble beginnings in the oil fields of Oklahoma, Toby Keith has become one of the preeminent songwriters of his generation,’ the program reads. ‘His musical contributions have provided the country with powerful, emotional songs that captivate and inspire the nation.’
Also receiving the award was blue-grass singer Ricky Skaggs, Opera Star Mary Costa, longtime National Art Gallery director Earl Powell III and legendary war photojournalist Nick Ut.
In addition to playing Trump’s inauguration, Keith has also played events for President George Bush and Barack Obama, saying his decision to perform at each was about America, not party lines.
While never having endorsed Trump, Keith did previously call the president – and his then-opponent Hilary Clinton – ‘media whores’ during an interview in September 2016.
‘This is by far the best country you could ever live in, and we picked these two candidates to be media whores and go out there and take care of the world, huh?’ he said during an interview at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. He went on to call the election a ‘dumpster fire’.
Keith has made no mention of receiving the presidential honor on any of his official pages
His last Instagram post (above) was posted Tuesday, just one day before he received the honor
In the program note of the ceremony, as shared by Spicer, Keith was handed the award for ‘making extraordinary contributions to American music
When quizzed earlier that August which candidate he’d be voting for in 2016, Keith said: ‘This election, I don’t think it makes a difference.
‘I can’t believe there’s 300 million Americans in this country and we’ve got these two as our final two. It’s absolutely crazy.’
Keith has previously revealed he was raised a Democrat in Oklahoma and was registered with the party until 2008, when he became an independent.
‘I was a Democrat my whole life. They kind of disowned me when I started supporting the troops, then I went and registered independent,’ he told the Chicago Tribune. ‘I’ve never been a registered Republican. It just keeps people off balance. They don’t know what to think.’
Ahead of this year’s election, Keith was vocal on social media in urging American’s to ‘get out and vote’, regardless of their political affiliations or opinions.
‘I just think everybody should have an opinion and everybody should vote,’ a tweet read. ‘That’s what we’re build on.’
In his earlier years, Keith had been very vocal politically during George W. Bush’s terms as Commander-in-Chief. In 2003 he engaged in a public feud with the Chicks – formerly known as the Dixie Chicks – after the group’s lead singer criticized Bush right before the Iraq war.
Keith performed at Trump’s inauguration ceremony in 2017, however has stopped short of pledging his support of the president
Ricky Skaggs (above), who also received the award Wednesday, is also yet to post on his social channels about the honor
The National Medal of the Arts is given to artists who ‘are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States,’ according to a government website.
Ricky Skaggs, who also received the award Wednesday, has not yet posted on his social channels about being handed the honor either.
Unlike Keith, the blue-grass singer has previously praised Trump in the past, saying in 2016: ‘I believe Donald Trump is the right person in the right place, and that it’s prophetic.’
Skaggs also credited Trump’s ‘enthusiasm’ and ‘fighting spirit’.
‘He’s not going to let anyone bulldoze over him because he’s a bulldozer himself,’ he said at the time.
Trump previously issued the National Medal of the Arts to Alison Krauss and Jon Voight during a ceremony in 2019.
Earlier this week, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick announced that he would be declining the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump, which he was scheduled to receive Thursday.
Belichick, who was once friends with Trump, cited the ‘tragic events of last week’ as the catalyst behind his decision.
‘Recently, I was offered the opportunity to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which I was flattered by out of respect for what the honor represents and admiration for prior recipients,’ Belichick, who has been the team’s head coach since 2000, said in a statement.
‘Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award. Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy.’
Earlier this week, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (above) announced that he would be declining the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump, which he was scheduled to receive Thursday
Other former associates and organizations with close links to Trump have severed ties with him in recent days, following the insurrection in DC.
On Monday, he was reportedly left ‘gutted’ after the Professional Golf Association decided to pull the 2022 PGA Championship from the his private club in New Jersey.
The president made history Wednesday when he back the first Commander-in-Chief to be impeached twice.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will decide when to transmit the article to the Senate, which must either dismiss the charge or hold a trial. At least 67 of the 100 senators are needed for conviction, which would require Trump’s removal from office.