President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron toasted the Franco-American alliance at the White House Tuesday evening to mark the first state dinner of the Trump administration.
In his pre-dinner toast, Trump expressed his hope that “our friendship grow even deeper … our kinship grow even stronger and … our sacred liberty never die.”
Macron, in a much more expansive toast, referred to recent airstrikes on Syria by the U.S. and France as part of the two countries’ “joint history” of leading fights “for freedom and to defend our values.”
“We have always been there for the appointments of this joint history,” Macron said. “And this is the reason why today we have no alternative but to be there also for an appointment with history.”
After months of preparations, @POTUS and I are looking forward to hosting our first State Dinner with France! Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to make this visit a success. 🇺🇸 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/j7fKmUhISJ
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) April 23, 2018
Trump devoted the first part of his toast to thanking his wife Melania, whom he described as “America’s absolutely incredible first lady,” for pulling the dinner together. Macron opened with an arch joke about James Monroe renovating the White House with French furnishings after British troops burned Washington D.C. in 1814, calling the fifth president “a man of taste.”
Nearly two hours earlier, the Trumps greeted Macron and his wife Brigitte with European-style air kisses at the North Portico of the White House.
Melania Trump wore what the White House described as a black Chantilly lace Chanel haute couture gown, hand-painted with silver and embroidered with crystal and sequins. Brigitte Macron wore a cream full-length gown by Louis Vuitton with long sleeves and gold details.
After posing for photographs, the couples headed inside to join 123 guests, including Vice President Mike Pence; Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts; former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; Apple CEO Tim Cook and U.S. Winter Olympic gold medalists John Shuster (curling) and Meghan Duggan (women’s ice hockey), who flashed their medals to the assembled media as they arrived.
Also attending the dinner were Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross; Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; White House Chief of Staff John Kelly; national security adviser John Bolton and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who is awaiting Senate confirmation to become Trump’s new secretary of state.
Ivanka Trump, a senior White House adviser and the president’s elder daughter, responded: “Oui, un petit peu (Yes, a little bit)” when a reporter asked if she spoke French. When Mnuchin’s wife, Louise Linton, was asked what she was looking forward to, she answered: “Everything French!”
The Associated Press, citing a White House official, reported that Trump had excluded congressional Democrats and journalists. But some Democrats did make the cut, most notably Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.
The guests will dine on rack of lamb and nectarine tart served on a mix of china settings from the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. After-dinner entertainment will be courtesy of the Washington National Opera.
The White House had stressed that the first lady has had a hand in every detail of the state dinner. She released a brief video Monday showing her working on the details with her staff, including the menu and the cream-and-gold table settings.