Toby Keith helped see Donald J. Trump in as president, playing at the inauguration concert four years ago — and he came back to help see him out, too, news reports indicate.
It’s being reported that both Keith and fellow country music star Ricky Skaggs were at the White House Wednesday afternoon to receive the National Medal of the Arts, nearly at the same time the outgoing president was being impeached by the House of Representatives for a historic second time.
Media representatives were not invited to the ceremony, and there was no prior announcement of Keith and Skaggs getting awarded with the medals.
Although there was still no official acknowledgement of the awards at the time this story was published, several reporters have said they confirmed with administration sources that it went down around the time of the impeachment vote.
In accepting the honor while the president was experiencing what many would consider his greatest moment of shame, Skaggs and Keith were willing to go where Bill Belichick would not. The New England Patriots’ coach, who had supported Trump in the past, turned down the chance to receive the Presidential Medal of the Arts this week.
Keith’s and Skaggs’ publicists both declined to immediately comment on or confirm the ceremony taking place.
Skaggs is known for his conservative evangelical views. “I believe Donald Trump is the right person in the right place, and that it’s prophetic,” he said in 2016.
Keith has called himself a Democrat in the past, although he, too, is renowned for conservative views and played a rally for Trump in 2016 as well as the later inauguration. He is perhaps most famous for his “put a boot in your ass” pro-military anthem, “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American),” written in response to the events of 9/11. He also engaged in a public spat with the Dixie Chicks in 2003 after they criticized the song, leading Natalie Maines to wear an “FUTK” shirt on an awards show, which served to up Keith’s cred on the right.
In turning down the last-minute chance to pick up a medal, Belichick said this week, “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. 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.
“I know I also represent my family and the New England Patriots team,” the coach continued. “One of the most rewarding things in my professional career took place in 2020 when, through the great leadership within our team, conversations about social justice, equality and human rights moved to the forefront and became actions. Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”
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