Donald Trump Gives National Medal of the Arts to Toby Keith & Ricky Skaggs

UPDATE: The White House announced Thursday (Jan. 14) that President Trump had given out five National Medals of the Arts on Wednesday, including to country stars Toby Keith and Ricky Skaggs. The other three recipients were opera singer Mary Costa, photojournalist Nick Ut and art historian Earl “Rusty” Powell III.


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While the U.S. House was voting Wednesday (Jan. 13) to impeach Donald Trump a second time, as he was charged with “incitement of insurrection,” the president was presenting the National Medal of the Arts to singers Toby Keith and Ricky Skaggs.

According to the National Endowment for the Arts website, the award 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.” The site, however, has not been updated to confirm the 2020 recipients.

Keith’s spokesperson replied “no comment” when asked by Billboard to confirm that the country star had received the honor from Trump on Wednesday. Skaggs accepted the award, after his initial date earlier in 2020 to receive the honor had been postponed because of COVID-19.

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The “Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue” country singer performed at Trump’s 2017 inauguration, though he has called himself a Democrat in the past.

Skaggs spoke favorably of Trump in 2016. “I believe Donald Trump is the right person in the right place, and that it’s prophetic,” he said.

In 2019, Trump presented the National Medal of the Arts to singer Alison Krauss, actor Jon Voight, broadcasting executive Sharon Percy Rockefeller and the Musicians of the United States Military.