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Kevin Winter/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Well, the big night is finally here! The 2017 Oscars have begun, and your host for the evening Jimmy Kimmel has taken the stage.

In his opening monologue, the late-night host did not hold back, poking fun at President Donald Trump, close friend and pretend-enemy Matt Damon, and even Denzel Washington.

Kimmel came out and immediately addressed the elephant in the room. He said that many people had told him that the country is so divided right now he should address it. "I can't do that," he said.

"There's only one 'Braveheart' in the room," he said of Oscar-winner Mel Gibson, who is nominated again this year for his new film "Hacksaw Ridge." "And he's not going to unite us either," he added as the crowd laughed.

Kimmel got more serious then when he said that if everyone watching right now "took a moment to reach out to one person you disagree with and have a positive, considerate conversation ... we could really make America great again."

But just as quick, the host's jokes began rolling again. Kimmel feigned as if he wanted to bury the hatchet with Matt Damon before making fun of the actor's choice to pass up starring in "Manchester by the Sea" only to star in a "Chinese ponytail movie instead and that movie went on to lose $80 million. Smooth move dumba---."

"When I first met Matt, I was the fat one," he also joked.

Kimmel's first crack on Trump was thanking him because, "remember when last year the Oscars were considered racist?"

After picking on Oscar nominee Denzel Washington for directing himself in the film "Fences," he teased French actress and nominee Isabelle Huppert.

"We didn't see 'Elle,' but we absolutely loved it," he said. "I'm glad Homeland Security let you in tonight," he added, a joke apparently about Trump's order restricting entry into the U.S. of people from seven Muslim-majority countries which has been put on hold by the courts.

Finally, Kimmel closed with a riff on Meryl Streep, the actress who is nominated for her 20th Oscar this year whom Trump called overrated after she gave a speech at the Golden Globes that criticized the president without naming him.

"One actress has stood the test of time for her many uninspiring and overrated performances," he said. "[She's] phoned it in for more than 50 films. This is Meryl's 20th Oscar nomination ... she wasn't even in a movie this year, we just wrote her name in out of habit."

He closed with, "Some of you will [win tonight] and give a speech that the president of the United States will tweet about in all caps."

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iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- As part of a new initiative to support the American Civil Liberties Union, Oscar nominees and other stars are wearing blue ribbons with the organization's name on them.

Already spotted wearing the ribbons, part of the "Stand With ACLU" campaign, are Lin-Manuel Miranda and his mother, Loving star Ruth Negga and more.

"For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States," the organization lists as its mission on its official website.

The organization launched the campaign this week, and the Oscars actually aren't the first event at which celebs have supported the cause. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Casey Affleck wore one last night at the Independent Spirit Awards. The outlet adds that in the past three months, the organization's membership has doubled and it has raised millions in online donations.

In February, the ACLU announced it would create a "rapid response team" to help those deported or kept out of the United States following President Donald Trump's travel ban, which has since been halted by a federal court judge in Washington state.

#Hamilton's @Lin_Manuel is also wearing a blue @ACLU ribbon. He brought his mom to the #Oscars. pic.twitter.com/yHAxx5Htwt

— Veronica Miracle (@VeronicaABC30) February 26, 2017

In a blog post on the group's website on Friday, the ACLU wrote, "The ACLU will continue to defend our basic freedoms and hold this administration accountable for every unlawful or unconstitutional measure they propose. We will use the courts as one avenue to aggressively advance our agenda, but we cannot do it alone."

As stars walk the Oscars red carpet, the official ACLU Twitter page has been sharing photos of the celebs wearing the ribbons and even cracking jokes.

"Who ever thought we'd be fashion icons?" the organization wrote, thanking the celebs for their support.

Who ever thought we'd be fashion icons? #Oscars https://t.co/ii6f71xKq3

— ACLU National (@ACLU) February 26, 2017

Thanks @Lin_Manuel, glad you gladly join the fight. And when our children tell our story, they’ll tell the story of tonight. #Oscars https://t.co/k5wgvUFRlt

— ACLU National (@ACLU) February 26, 2017

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- While Hollywood rolls out the red carpet for the Oscars Sunday night, the president and first lady will host a night of glamour of their own.

But instead of movie stars, the guests invited to the White House tonight are the nation's governors.

It's an annual tradition for the president to invite the nation's governors to the White House for a dinner.

Tonight's Annual Governor's Ball is also a first for President Trump and the first lady in acting as host and hostess of the White House for a gala-style event.

The theme of the dinner is "Spring's Renewal," with the first lady noting in a statement that "the scents of jasmine and roses fill the air as we give thanks for this great Nation and the glory of renewal."

The first lady also says the night will be an opportunity to leave political labels behind and unite.

"I am proud to invite all the governors to the White House for this important annual event," the first lady also said. "Tonight, we come together as one Nation, leaving political labels and partisan interests behind."

But in a tweet, President Trump said political talk -– specifically healthcare reform -– would be on the table at tonight's dinner.

Big dinner with Governors tonight at White House. Much to be discussed, including healthcare.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2017

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The new chair of the Democratic National Committee acknowledged the party made mistakes in its past election strategy and has work ahead to win more seats at all levels of government.

“We didn't invest enough in our state party infrastructure,” newly-elected DNC Chair Tom Perez told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos on This Week Sunday. “We didn't invest enough in grassroots organizing. We ignored rural swaths of America.”

“We need an every zip code strategy. We need to redefine the role of the DNC so that we're helping to elect people from the school board to the Senate,” Perez added.

The former Obama administration labor secretary was elected as the Democratic National Committee’s new chair on Saturday after a close race against the other leading contender, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison. Perez won by 235 to 200 on a second round of voting after none of the candidates received the majority of votes on the first ballot.

In a show of unity, Perez immediately after his election named Ellison as deputy chair, and the two stood together at the podium. Many in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party had backed Ellison, who was an early supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primary, and who was backed by Sanders to lead the DNC. Ellison was also endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Stephanopoulos asked about apparent discord at the DNC meeting with some protest chants after Perez won, and Sanders' statement later that it was “imperative that Tom understands that the same-old, same-old is not working and that we must open the doors of the party to working people and young people in a way that has never been done before.”

Perez responded that “Congressman Ellison and I are united, and our values our identical ... We want to make sure that everyone has a fair shake. These are things that Donald Trump is fighting against."

“Our Democratic unity is Donald Trump's worst nightmare,” Perez said. "When we lead with our values, we win. And that's what we're going to do."

The new DNC chair added, "There is such an electricity out there across America, and it's not just the traditional activists ... Congressman Ellison has been spectacular at tapping into that grassroots advocacy. And we're working together to translate this activism into results.”

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ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- When Hollywood stars celebrate their Oscar wins at the annual Governors Ball bash on Sunday, Donald and Melania Trump will be hosting their own White House Governors’ Ball in Washington, D.C.

The scheduling conflict means Trump will likely not be watching the 89th Academy Awards live on TV.

 “The first lady has put a lot of time into this event that's going to occur and welcoming our nation's governors to the capital,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Wednesday. “And I have a feeling that that's where the president and the first lady are going to be focused on on Sunday night, and so we'll go from there.”

Trump did not tweet about the Academy Awards last year. Instead, in between appearances on Sunday morning shows and a speech in Alabama, Trump directed at least one of his Feb. 28 tweets at his then-presidential opponent, Sen. Marco Rubio, calling him a "lightweight no show Senator from Florida."

In 2015, Trump deemed that year's ceremony, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, an "insult" to previous Oscars. He also got technical, criticizing even the ceremony's graphics.

What ever happened to the good old days of The Academy Awards. This show is an insult to the past, just plain bad!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 23, 2015

Worst graphics and stage backdrop ever at the Oscars. Show is terrible, really BORING!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 23, 2015


In 2014, Trump declared the awards ceremony “AWFUL” and compared it to the website for then-President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Ellen DeGeneres hosted the Oscars that year, while "12 Years a Slave" won best picture and stars including Matthew McConaughey and Lupita Nyong’o took home top acting honors.

Was President Obama in charge of this years Academy Awards - they remind me of the ObamaCare website! #Oscars.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2014

I'm having a real hard time watching the Academy Awards (so far). The last song was terrible! Kim should sue her plastic surgeon! #Oscars

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2014

This cannot be the the Academy Awards #Oscars AWFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2014


He also declared the evening "amateur night," criticized DeGeneres' longtime producer and seemed to imply the awards show was "dishonest."

Which is worse and which is more dishonest - the #Oscars or the Emmys?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2014

Little Andy Lassner, who lives his life through Ellen and has nothing else going for himself, is having a really bad night! #Oscars

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2014

Ellen is sadly having a hard time with her lines. #Oscars

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2014


That year the future commander-in-chief also retweeted supporters who appeared to indicate Trump's no-holds-barred Oscar tweets would make him a good president.

"@CashMoneyBonas: @realDonaldTrump I wish I was watching your presidency campaign instead of the oscars"

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2014

"@reza_rezvani: @realDonaldTrump You need to run for President. This country needs you. #Trump2016" zip. I know! #Oscars

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2014


Trump told his Twitter followers in 2013 that he was tweeting that year’s ceremony, hosted by Seth MacFarlane, due to “popular demand.”

By popular demand, I will be tweeting on the very tainted Academy Awards tonight!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2013


Despite writing in a 2012 tweet that McFarlane being named Oscar host was “something new that should be fun,” Trump called the ceremony "very average" the morning after.

...Overall, the Academy Awards were very average at best.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2013


In between his reviews of McFarlane, Trump called “Django Unchained,” a best picture nominee, the “most racist movie I have ever seen," slammed the British accent of Daniel-Day Lewis, who won best actor for "Lincoln," and deemed the Oscar set "very tacky."

Trump was so angry about the Oscars in 2012, hosted by Billy Crystal, that he took to another form of social media, YouTube, to vent.

Trump, looking straight into a camera at his desk in Trump Tower, called for a security guard to be fired after Sacha Baron Cohen, dressed as his character in “The Dictator,” sprinkled what he claimed to be ashes on Ryan Seacrest during E’s Oscars red carpet coverage.

Trump also called the ceremony "boring," said people were sleeping through it and used the occasion to take a dig at Vanity Fair, whose editor, Graydon Carter, has a long-running feud with Trump.

“Nobody enjoyed it. There was no good feeling and it was really like symblomatic [sic] of what happened to Vanity Fair,” Trump said. “...It used to be a wonderful magazine. Right now it’s boring, just like the party they had.”

I hear the worst, or at least most boring, Academy Awards party this year was the @VanityFair party. It's lost (cont) http://t.co/u5SS2G0Q

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2012


Just one year earlier, in 2011, Trump and his wife attended the Oscars. The couple also attended the Vanity Fair Oscar party at the Sunset Tower Hotel, as seen in photographs taken at the time.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) --  House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said that President Trump will have no positive achievements to point to when he gives his first address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night.

"He has nothing to show for it but fear in every way," Pelosi told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos Sunday on This Week. "To people who are sick -- fear, to people who are immigrants -- fear, to people who are concerned about the greed on Wall Street -- taking us back to where we were."

Pelosi also said she doesn't believe Republicans will be able to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's signature health care law, as many in the GOP have promised.

"How can they do it?" she said. "They do not have the votes."

"They've been baying at the moon that they had a better idea" than the health care act known as Obamacare, the Democratic leader said of Republicans. "They've come up with nothing ... They don't have a replacement. What they have put forth and outlined will cost more to consumers. It will cover fewer people. It will give tax breaks to the wealthiest people."

The Democratic Party's response to the President Trump's speech to Congress on Tuesday will be delivered by former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Beshear's work in Kentucky is "proof positive that the Affordable Care Act works," indicating he was selected to counter Republican's plans to repeal and replace the law. In addition, Nevada immigration activist and "dreamer" Astrid Silva will give the Democrats' Spanish-language response.

Stephanopoulos also asked Pelosi her view on whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from overseeing the FBI and Justice Department's investigation of Russia's alleged interference in the presidential election.

A leading GOP member of Congress, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, said on Bill Maher's show, Real Time, on Friday that a special prosecutor is needed.

"You cannot have somebody -- a friend of mine, Jeff Sessions -- who was on the [Trump] campaign and who is an appointee," Issa told Maher. "You're going to need to use the special prosecutor's statute and office."

Pelosi told Stephanopoulos, "The attorney general must recuse himself ... You have seen a flurry of activities that are completely inappropriate -- encouraging lawmakers, encouraging intelligence officials to say that something is one way or another [about the Russia probe]. Let's have the investigation and find out the truth."

The California Democrat was referring to news that White House staff spoke to both the FBI and the leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees about rebutting reports that Trump associates had contact with Russian officials during the presidential campaign.

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MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) --  For decades, going to the movies has given people a two-hour escape from the daily news cycle. But at the Academy Awards -- the pinnacle event in Hollywood -- winners on occasion have used the platform to bring attention to political issues.

ABC News film critic Peter Travers predicts this year will "be the most political year of the Academy Awards ever."

When did the Oscars become so political?

1973

Hollywood insiders often point to the 1973 Oscars as the precursor to political speeches.

That year Marlon Brando asked Sacheen Littlefeather, the president of National Native American Affirmative Image Committee, to attend the Oscars on his behalf.

 Littlefeather told the audience "that [Brando] very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award" because of "the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry" and "recent happenings" at Wounded Knee Creek, on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Weeks before the awards show, protesters at Wounded Knee called for the resignation of tribal council president Richard Wilson, whom they accused of corruption, and for the U.S. government to reexamine treaties with Native Americans.

Her comments were met by applause and boos. She said she hoped her speech wouldn't "intrude" on the night.

 After Littlefeather's speech, "everybody at the time was wildly upset" because they felt politics and Hollywood should be separate, Travers said.

1978

In 1978 Vanessa Redgrave was nominated for best supporting actress for her role in "Julia," in which she played an anti-Nazi activist. Redgrave, an outspoken supporter of the Palestinians, had narrated and helped fund the documentary “The Palestinian.”

 When Redgrave stepped on stage to accept her award, she praised the Academy for its support.

"I salute you ... and I think you should be very proud that in the last few weeks you've stood firm, and you have refused to be intimated by the threats of a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums," Redgrave said to the crowd as the Academy members booed.

 Without pausing, Redgrave continued, "Whose behavior is an insult to the stature of Jews all over the world and to their great and heroic record of struggle against fascism and oppression."

"And I salute that record, and I salute all of you, for having stood firm and having dealt a final blow against that period when Nixon and McCarthy launched a worldwide witch-hunt," she said, which was met with more boos. "Against those who tried to express in their lives and their work the truth that they believed in. I salute you and I thank you and I pledge to you that I will continue to fight against antisemitism and fascism."

When Redgrave was first nominated, she was "opposed very aggressively by Jewish groups because of her support of Palestinians," said Akira Mizuta Lippit, vice dean of faculty at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts.

Supporters of the Jewish Defense League picketed outside the awards ceremony and burned an effigy of Redgrave.

"There was a large protest," Lippit told ABC News. "And she spoke out against the protest and praised the Academy for moving forward with her nomination."

 Travers said Redgrave "called it as she saw it ... she called people 'hoodlums' -- she was angry, there were protesters outside" and she resented that they were carrying placards against her because of her position on Palestinians.

But "there was tremendous backlash at the time for her having anything political to say," Travers said.

Lippit said Redgrave faced so much backlash after that speech because her fellow Academy members thought it was "inappropriate to take a political stance at a ceremonial event like this."

But "in many ways [it] served as a catalyst because it really opened up the question ... what are the limits?" he added.

1999

Director Elia Kazan was given an honorary Academy Award in 1999, decades after his involvement with The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) -- a group in the 1950s that investigated Americans suspected of having Communist ties.

If an actor or writer proffered names of people who were involved in "leftist, socialist activities," Lippit explained, that person "would be allowed to continue and resume" their career. If someone refused, that individual could become blacklisted from Hollywood. Many, like Kazan, likely provided names to protect themselves, Lippit said.

Kazan never apologized for his actions and "became a pariah for many people," Lippit said. The honorary Academy Award "was a big debate" that "really divided the community."

Some, like Warren Beatty, were supportive, Lippit said, and "felt [Kazan] should be recognized for the work he accomplished as a director." Others, however, felt that "you could not forgive a man who had betrayed others in the profession in order to save himself."

 Lippit said Kagan's situation presented an interesting dilemma in Hollywood.

"It really raises the question: if one can completely quarantine politics from entertainment and whether that's even a valid question. Is entertainment, as we define it, something that needs to be kept strictly segregated from the social, political world ... when in fact entertainment reflects in many cases the world that we live in, or the world that we have lived in," he explained.

The trend of political speeches continued through the years. Halle Berry proclaimed her best actress win symbolically opened the door for other African American actresses in the industry while Michael Moore focused his 2003 Oscar speech on bashing President George W. Bush and the Iraq War.

 In 2009, when Dustin Lance Black won best original screenplay for "Milk," he said the story of gay rights activist Harvey Milk gave him hope as a teen.

"If Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago," Black said in his speech, "I think he'd want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, or by the government, or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value. And that no matter what anyone tells you God does love you, and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally across this great nation of ours."

 More recently climate change has become a hot topic at the Oscars.

Best actor winner Leonardo DiCaprio pleaded for action on climate change in his 2016 speech.

"Making 'The Revenant' was about man's relationship to the natural world -- a world we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history. Our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow," DiCaprio said. "Climate change is real. ... Let us not take this planet for granted, I do not take tonight for granted."

What to expect on Sunday

This year, Travers predicted Mahershala Ali, who is Muslim, will get political if he wins for best supporting actor.

And he may not be the only one. If Viola Davis nabs an Oscar for her performance in "Fences," she "isn't going to mince words about what's going on in her head," noted Travers.

 Moreover, Travers believes this year will "be the most political year of the Academy Awards ever" for two reasons: the Trump administration and the #OscarsSoWhite backlash from 2015.

At the Golden Globes in January, Meryl Streep, in her acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award, went on the attack against Trump, calling him out (though not by name) for his treatment of a disabled reporter and the press.

Trump later responded by tweeting that Streep was "over-rated" and a "flunky" of Hillary Clinton.

Travers said the criticism of Trump by Hollywood wasn't "name calling."

"They all seem to have an agenda," he said.

Besides tension with Trump, Travers said the Academy is "dealing with their own two-year criticism for not recognizing minorities in any of those major awards."

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs addressed the criticism by making changes to membership policies, which would, she hoped, create more opportunities for minorities.

Do political speeches lead to change?

Ted Johnson, senior editor at Variety, said these speeches can ultimately launch various initiatives.

"Presidential administrations are aware of the ability of the Oscars to be a platform," he told ABC News in an email. "Joe Biden introduced Lady Gaga at last year's Oscars as a way to highlight the problem of sexual assault on college campuses. Ronald Reagan addressed the ceremony by video in 1981, and Franklin Roosevelt addressed the Oscars in 1941."

He also gave the example of Patricia Arquette, who won an Oscar in 2015 for "Boyhood." The publicity following her speech on equal pay for women encouraged one California lawmaker to introduce equal pay legislation in the state. It passed later that year, Johnson noted.

 According to Lippit, these speeches "will only have an indirect effect -- on climate change policy, for example -- but they do sometimes have a significant impact on public opinion, which can lead to policy changes."

With 100 million people watching, Travers said, "Would anybody give up the opportunity to get something off their chest? I don't think so."

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Following President Donald Trump's announcement Saturday that he plans to skip April's star-studded White House Correspondents' Dinner, many celebrities took to Twitter to celebrate his decision.

I will not be attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017

Comedian Kathy Griffin tweeted, "Shhhh. This is r big chance! We sneak in #Obama & #Hillary, tell Trump he's "president of United States of Mar-a-Lago" & #resist #Indivisible."

Shhhh.This is r big chance! We sneak in #Obama & #Hillary, tell Trump he's "president of United States of Mar-a-Lago" & #resist #Indivisible https://t.co/Z4NYnn7oFA

— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) February 25, 2017

Longtime Trump nemesis Rosie' O'Donnell was less kind, tweeting, "seriously - u need to get help."

I will not be attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017

And comedian Billy Eichner, who regularly tweets anti-Trump comments, implied the president is thin-skinned, writing, "HAHAHAHA WHAT A SNOWFLAKE."

HAHAHAHA WHAT A SNOWFLAKE https://t.co/8HGUEAzHSR

— billy eichner (@billyeichner) February 25, 2017

Below, more celebrities react to Trump's no-show RSVP:

ZACH BRAFF

Does this mean the parties are back on? https://t.co/DfVnzAYxSG

— Zach Braff (@zachbraff) February 25, 2017

.@AlecBaldwin time to suit up. https://t.co/DfVnzAYxSG

— Zach Braff (@zachbraff) February 25, 2017

ARSENIO HALL

WHAT!? Trump says he won't attend White House Correspondents Dinner - ABC News - https://t.co/b3aNOZadsB via @ABC @tjmshow

— Arsenio Hall (@ArsenioHall) February 25, 2017

GEORGE TAKEI

If @AlecBaldwin fills in for @realDonaldTrump at the Correspondents dinner, a bit of karmic balance might be restored to the universe.

— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) February 26, 2017

DON CHEADLE

Trump declines to attend White House correspondents' dinner - CNN Winner winner, chicken dinner ... https://t.co/GG4E0HA0W4

— Don Cheadle (@DonCheadle) February 25, 2017

JESSICA CHASTAIN

#WHCD raises money for scholarships for young journalists, just as it has every year since 1921 #FreedomOfThePress #NoPropagandaPress pic.twitter.com/NBfIlj7kjF

— Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) February 25, 2017

SAMANTHA RONSON

I am now available to dj any and all parties 🎉 https://t.co/xl0HuiU6Jf

— samantha ronson (@samantharonson) February 25, 2017

ALYSSA MILANO

Trump is rsvp'ing "will not attend". https://t.co/MPfRxhuzJW

— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) February 25, 2017

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Ida Mae Astute/ABC(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump will not attend this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner, he announced on twitter Saturday.

"Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!" the commander-in-chief added.

The dinner, sponsored by the White House Correspondents' Association and attended by a mix of A-list celebrities and Washington media, generally includes a comedian roast, plus a humorous address by the president.

The WHCA responded that the group "takes note" that Trump won't attend the dinner, scheduled for April 29, and said the dinner "has been and will continue to be a celebration of the First Amendment and the important role played by an independent news media in a healthy republic."

Trump has been mocked in years past.

In 2011, headliner Seth Meyers skewered the billionaire, saying "Donald Trump has been saying he will run for president as a Republican, which is surprising because I just assumed that he was running as a joke."

"Donald Trump often appears on Fox, which is ironic because a fox often appears on Donald Trump's head," Meyers added.

That same year, President Obama also poked fun at the man who would later go on to succeed him in the White House: "Now, I know that he's taken some flak lately, but no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter –- like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?"

At his last correspondents' dinner, in 2016, Obama took aim at then-candidate Trump, saying: "I'm a little hurt that he's not here tonight. It's surprising. You got a room full of reporters, celebrities, cameras, and he says no."

"I hope you all are proud of yourselves. The guy wanted to give his hotel business a boost and now we're praying that Cleveland makes it through July," Obama added, in reference to the site of the Republican National Convention last summer.

The dinner, affectionately dubbed "nerd prom," raises thousands for journalism scholarships and honors outstanding journalists.

According to the White House Correspondent's Association, every president since Calvin Coolidge, who first first attended in 1924, has been to the dinner at least once.

The news of Trump's expected absence comes as the president's relationship with the press grows increasingly tense. Trump has repeatedly slammed journalists for propagating "fake news" and has labeled several major outlets -- including ABC News -- "the enemy of the American People."

 

I will not be attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017

 

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MANDEL NGAN,BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez has been elected the next chair of the Democratic National Committee, grabbing the reins of the political wing of the party and emerging as a key figure in the party's opposition to President Donald Trump's agenda.

More than 400 party insiders gathered in Atlanta this weekend to cast their ballots. The former Obama appointee will try to rally a party still reeling from its presidential election defeat and crippled by down-ballot losses across the country over the last decade.

Many in the party's progressive wing had thrown their support behind Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, expressing their frustration with the status quo of the party. They felt strongly that Ellison better identified with the grassroots movement growing across the country in opposition to Trump.

Perez, who fell one ballot short shy of victory in the first round of voting, immediately appointed Ellison deputy chair of the DNC after it was announced that he had won.

"I need to tell you folks at the outset: I know that I have more questions than answers," Perez told the crowd in a victory speech, reaching out to those who opposed his bid. "As a team, we will work together.

"We should all be able to say ... the united Democratic Party led the resistance and ensured that this president would be a one-term president," he continued.

Ellison spoke of the need for the party to unify.

"I just want to say to you that if you came here supporting me ... I'm asking you to give everything you got to support Chairman Perez," Ellison said. "We don't have the luxury to walk out of this room divided."

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the former presidential candidate who had backed Ellison's bid, said he looks forward to working with Perez but insisted the party must change its direction.

 

It's imperative Tom understands that the same-old, same-old isn't working and that we must bring in working and young people in a new way.

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 25, 2017

 

"Ellison offered a chance to hit the ground running and immediately start building bridges between the DNC and the progressive activist base," said Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. "The burden will be on [Perez] to build the bridge."

After emails leaked last summer revealed former chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz had purportedly influenced the presidential primary, many activists who sided with Sen. Bernie Sanders were left feeling betrayed and disillusioned by the party establishment. Those leaks last summer forced Wasserman Schultz to step down.

Perez was backed by many from former President Obama's political orbit, including former Vice President Joe Biden, while Ellison garnered support from liberals like Sanders. But the lines are not hard and fast. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also backed Ellison, while Perez had the support of some labor groups.

Larry Cohen, a long time union organizer who campaigned hard for Ellison promised, however, to stay actively involved in the formal party.

"We'll be here until we have a progressive populist party," he said.

Rep. Maxine Waters of California voted for Ellison, but said she was confident Perez would be able to bring people together.

Former DNC Chair Howard Dean had backed South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who bowed out of the race minutes before the vote. Dean told reporters on Friday that he did not think the party could "prosper" with a chair from inside the beltway and that if Perez or Ellison was elected they would "do the best we can."

Perez faces challenges moving forward. He must rebuild state organizations, which many in the party say have been deteriorating over the last eight years as resources and brain power became concentrated in Washington.

Democrats also defeated a resolution that would have banned corporate donations to the party -- a chance to reinstate an Obama policy that was nixed under former chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Those in favor said the party needed to send a bold message to the grassroots and make a statement about "values." Those against said there was no point is proactively handicapping themselves when the "other side" had deep pockets.

Activists in the room booed and jeered when the resolution was defeated.

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Pete Marovich/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Top Democrats on Saturday chose former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez to lead the party in its opposition to the agenda of President Donald Trump.

The establishment and progressive wings of the party were split between Perez and Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison over the last several months. Some progressives said they were reluctant to fall in line behind Perez should he win.

Perez has work to do: In addition to losing the 2016 presidential race, the Democrats have lost dozens of Congressional seats and hundreds of state legislature seats over the last several election cycles.

So who is Tom Perez? Here's everything you need to know:

Who Is Tom Perez?


Tom Perez served as secretary of labor for three years after being appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2013. Before that, he was labor secretary for the state of Maryland and was a civil rights attorney for the Department of Justice. He's also a graduate of Harvard Law School. Perez was born to Dominican immigrants in Buffalo, New York. He has never held elected office.

How Did He Get Elected?


A group of more than 400 top Democrats gathered on Saturday in Atlanta to cast their ballots to replace Interim Chair Donna Brazile. Perez fell one ballot short of a majority on the first round of voting. He defeated Ellison by a 235-200 vote in a second round.

Who Supported Perez for Chair (And Who Didn't?)


Perez lined up several high profile endorsements from former President Obama's orbit, including former Vice President Joe Biden, former Attorney General Eric Holder and former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Bernie Sanders backed Ellison and former chair Howard Dean backed South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Obama and former presidential nominee Hillary Clinton did not endorse anyone.

What Did Perez Do as Labor Secretary?


Perez's nomination for Secretary of Labor was divisive: He was confirmed 54-46 on a party-line vote after criticism from Republicans. Those in the Obama administration called him an effective leader and manager. He worked closely on minimum wage issues. But in order to toe the Obama White House line, he backed the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. The decision put him at direct odds with several major unions across the country.

What Happens Next?

The question now is whether Perez can unite various factions of the party and bring grassroots organizers into the fold. Perez named Ellison deputy chair of the party immediately after the vote. Several leading progressive activists including chairs of the Women's March and founders of the People for Bernie organization remain skeptical of Perez. They lobbied hard for Ellison and framed the race as an outsider against an insider, creating the perception among many that by electing Perez over Ellison the party was missing a crucial opportunity reach out and include people who felt left out and on the fridges of the institution.

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Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic via Getty Images(NEW YORK) --  Former President Barack Obama surprised Broadway theater-goers Friday when he and daughter Malia attended the evening performance of The Price.

The daddy-daughter duo headed backstage after the play -- a new revival of the Arthur Miller classic -- and met with the cast, including Mark Ruffalo, Danny DeVito, Tony Shalhoub and Jessica Hecht.

The Roundabout Theatre Company tweeted a photo of the pair with the cast, writing, "We are so honored to have had President @barackobama in our theater this evening for #ThePriceBway!"

The president and Malia were spotted leaving the American Airlines Theatre through a stage door, and were greeted by catcalls and shouts of "there he is!" by passers-by.

In The Price, a police officer feels that life has passed him by while he took care of his late father. He and his estranged brother must reunite to sell off their father's possessions.

The Obama clan is no stranger no Broadway, having attended several shows during his presidency, including Hamilton, A Raisin in the Sun, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Memphis, Kinky Boots, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Sister Act, The Trip to Bountiful, Motown the Musical and The Addams Family.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Multiple news outlets were excluded from a White House gaggle with press secretary Sean Spicer on Friday afternoon, according to reporters present, sparking criticism from the White House Correspondents' Association and other observers.

The move comes amid President Donald Trump's ongoing battle with many news organizations, which he has characterized as "fake news" and the "enemy of the American People," an assertion which he doubled down on Friday during the Conservative Political Action Conference.

The gaggle, which took place in Spicer's office, was being held in lieu of a traditional briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, which seats 49 reporters but is often filled with others who line the sides and back of the room.

The outlets invited to join Spicer on Friday included the Washington Times, One America News Network and Breitbart News, as well as television networks including ABC, CBS, Fox News and NBC, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, among others.

The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Politico and CNN were among the group excluded from the meeting. Upon learning of the restrictions, reporters from the Associated Press and Time boycotted the gaggle.

The session was recorded and ultimately distributed to the White House press pool, including those excluded.

ABC News' Cecilia Vega challenged Spicer about the move, questioning if the outlets were excluded because the White House did not like their coverage.

"Because we had a pool and then we expanded it," Spicer responded. "And we added some folks to come cover it."

Vega noted that there was space in the room for other outlets.

"I understand that there are way more than six that wanted to come in. We started with the pool and we expanded it," Spicer responded. "I think we've gone above and beyond when it comes to accessibility and openness and getting folks, our officials our team, and so respectfully I disagree with the premise of the question."

In a statement, the White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) blasted the move.

"The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how [Friday's] gaggle is being handled by the White House," said Jeff Mason of the WHCA board. "We encourage the organizations that were allowed in to share the material with others in the press corps who were not. The board will be discussing this further with White House staff."

Earlier in the day during a speech at CPAC, Trump attacked the media for reporting what he labeled as "fake news," and said he wanted the press barred from using unnamed sources, in particular. This, despite his administration's use of background briefings and insistence upon the exclusion by the media of officials' names when reporting on the information from the briefings.

Trump did note, however, that he is a supporter of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

"I love the First Amendment; nobody loves it better than me. Nobody," said Trump.

White Houses' taking on the press or specific outlets is not unprecedented.

The Obama administration battled with Fox News, excluding anchor Chris Wallace from a round of Sunday show interviews with Obama in 2009.

“We simply decided to stop abiding by the fiction, which is aided and abetted by the mainstream press, that Fox is a traditional news organization,” said Dan Pfeiffer, the deputy White House communications director, according to a New York Times report from the time.

Fox was also excluded from a network pool round robin interview with former pay czar Ken Feinberg on Oct. 22, 2009, but ultimately relented when other organizations boycotted.

According to a Mediaite report at the time, the Treasury Department denied that Fox was excluded.

And former President Richard Nixon was privately recorded in the Oval Office in 1972 saying "the press is the enemy," according to a Times report. The tapes were later released.

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ABC News(NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.) — President Trump made a victorious return to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, where he sought to assure cheering audience members that they now have a top advocate for their policy priorities in the White House while also taking aim at his favorite target, the media.

"All of these years we've been together and now you finally have a president, finally," Trump said.

Trump was notably absent from the annual conservative gathering during his presidential run in 2016 and was skewered by his opponents in the GOP primary for skipping.

"I would have come last year but I was worried that I'd be at that time too controversial," Trump told the enthusiastic crowd Friday. "We wanted border security. We wanted very, very strong military. We wanted all of the things that we're going to get, and people considered that controversial, but you didn't consider it controversial."

'The dishonest media' and unnamed sources

Trump also doubled down on his attacks on the media, repeating his recent assertion that the "fake" news is the "enemy of the people," zeroing in on the use of unnamed sources.

"I'm against the people that make up stories and make up sources," Trump said. "They shouldn't be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody's name. Let their name be put out there."

The president's renewed criticism of the media comes as there are press reports that White House chief of staff Reince Priebus privately asked the FBI to knock down news stories of Trump campaign officials communicating with Russian intelligence agents. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday morning that Priebus only asked FBI officials to go public with information that they had first privately provided to him which cast doubt on the media reports.

The president seemed at times in his address to want to qualify his attack on the press, saying he's not against all media.

"I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news," said Trump. "It's fake, phony, fake."

Referring to a tweet he posted a week ago, which said the "fake news media… is the enemy of the American people," the president said that criticism was itself misrepresented by the press.

 

The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017

 

"In covering my comments, the dishonest media did not explain that I called the fake news the enemy of the people. The fake news," said Trump. "They dropped off the word 'fake.' And all of a sudden, the story became, the media is the enemy. They take the word 'fake' out."

The president neglected to mention that his tweet named several mainstream media organizations.

Before he was president

Trump's speech marked his fifth time addressing the annual gathering of right-wing organizers and activists.

The conference hosted by the American Conservative Union began in 1974 and has since grown into a four-day-long event with thousands of attendees. Trump's appearance Friday marks the fourth visit by a sitting president.

Trump on Friday reminded the audience of what he called his "first major speech" at CPAC in 2011. That year, Trump floated the possibility of a run for the 2012 Republican nomination, a race ultimately won by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

"America today is missing quality leadership and foreign countries have quickly realized this," said Trump in 2011.

"[The] theory of a very successful person running for office is rarely tested because most successful people don't want to be scrutinized or abused," he added. "This is the kind of person that the country needs and we need it now."

Six years later, Trump is the U.S. president and was the conference's main attraction.

Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway; his chief strategist, Steve Bannon; White House chief of staff Reince Priebus; and Vice President Mike Pence were a few of the major figures to speak at the conference on Thursday.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump used part of his speech at an annual gathering of conservatives Friday to take aim at reporters' use of anonymous sources, despite using unidentified sources himself in the past.

"They shouldn't be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody's name," Trump said in his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

The president didn't mention that his White House like every previous administration has officials serve as unnamed sources frequently as a way of informing reporters of policy and operational matters. The media also uses anonymous sources to protect the identity of people who might fear retribution for sharing sensitive information.

Hours before the president spoke at the conservative conference, for instance, the White House invited reporters to a "background briefing" where it was insisted upon that the media not reveal the names of officials holding the information session.

There are also examples from before, during and after Trump's presidential campaign when he made claims without attributing his sources.

His birther claims

Over several years, Trump used unidentified sources to claim that former President Obama was not born in the United States, which if true would have made him unqualified to be president.

For example, Trump tweeted in August 2012: "An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that @BarackObama's birth certificate is a fraud."

Not until September 2016, after Trump became the Republican nominee for president, did he publicly acknowledge that Obama was born in the U.S.

Unsupported claims during the campaign

Another example of Trump's making a claim without specific sources came in November 2015, when he asserted that he saw "thousands" of people in the United States cheering the attacks on Sept. 11 that brought down the World Trade Center.

During an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, Trump said he "watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering."

At a campaign event the day after the interview, he doubled down on that assertion.

"Lo and behold I start getting phone calls in my office by the hundreds, that they were there and they saw this take place on the internet," Trump said in Ohio.

ABC News checked a variety of footage from the time of the attacks and the weeks after, finding no basis for his claim.

Months later in May 2016, Trump repeated an unverified report from The National Enquirer -- which based its story on anonymous sources -- that the father of one of his GOP primary opponents, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, had been photographed with Lee Harvey Oswald before Oswald killed former President John F. Kennedy.

"I mean, what was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting?" Trump said during an interview with Fox News. "It's horrible."

The Cruz campaign immediately denied the claims made by The Enquirer and criticized Trump for his remarks.

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