Toby Keith, Ricky Skaggs Honored by Donald Trump Amid Impeachment Proceedings
Toby Keith and Ricky Skaggs were presented the National Medal of Arts by President Donald Trump on Wednesday afternoon (Jan. 13). The ceremony is said to have taken place soon after the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach the President for a second time.
While a representative for Keith simply declined to comment on the matter (and a representative for Skaggs has not responded to a request for comment), numerous news outlets are reporting that the National Medal of Arts ceremony took place in the East Room of the White House and involved both country singers.
NBC News was among the first to report the happening — Bloomberg News also reported that the honors were being given in a closed ceremony. On Wednesday evening Sean Spicer shared a photograph of the event on his Instagram.
The National Medal of Arts has not been a high priority for President Trump since he took office. In 2019 he doled out just four of them (including one to Alison Krauss), the first four of his presidency. Previous presidents going back to President Reagan have awarded 10 or more a year, every year.
Neither Keith nor Skaggs have shared anything about the honor on social media, but it comes as notable people are declining honors from Trump, and as some members of his own political party are distancing themselves from him. New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, for example, turned down the Presidential Medal of Freedom, citing last week's riots at the U.S. Capitol.
Skaggs has spoken favorably of Trump in the past. "I believe Donald Trump is the right person in the right place, and that it's prophetic," he said in 2016 (per Billboard).
Keith played Trump's inauguration in 2017, but had previously identified as a Democrat.