The Trump International Hotel’s largest ballroom was packed wall-to-wall with Republican women donning ornate hats and fascinators made of mesh, lace, ribbon, and feathers, at the Virginia Women For Trump’s “Tea for Trump” event yesterday, which celebrated the belated birthday of President Donald Trump. Organizers repeatedly insisted that the idea that women do not like Trump was “fake news.”
The event provided further evidence that even a news cycle as brutal as the one we saw last week, which resulted in outrage so pronounced that the Trump administration publicly backed down on its policy of separating undocumented family members crossing the southern border, is no deterrent for the president’s most ardent supporters.
Prior event descriptions claimed that a member of the Trump family was expected to attend, although none appeared to be on-site for the tea celebration. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was also rumored to be attending in order to receive an award, but did not make an appearance.
Rather, those in the crowd who had traveled from as far as California and paid at least $100 per person had a chance to gaze upon pro-Trump fashion designer Andre Soriano’s 45 gowns meant to commemorate Trump’s election as the 45th president of the United States. One dress was dedicated to Trump’s meeting with North Korean officials in Singapore and a young girl wearing one of Soriano’s dresses earned widespread applause.
Attendees also heard from a plethora of pro-Trump speakers and Trump-supporting candidates including Corey Stewart, who is running for U.S. Senate in Virginia, and Antonio Sabàto Jr., who is pursuing a U.S. House seat in California.
Stewart thanked Alice Butler, who founded Virginia Women for Trump, with a bouquet of yellow flowers and approached the podium to an enthusiastic audience that was seemingly unfazed by reports of Stewart’s deep tie-ins to white supremacists. Stewart, after taking time to praise Trump, responded to those reports by comparing himself to Ronald Reagan and Trump and further disavowing the racism, anti-Semitism, and bigotry of the people who supported him during the early days of his campaign.
“They can’t attack me on my record, so they attack me with false allegations of racism, bigotry, and anti-Semitism. Let me tell you something, folks. I completely disavow all those ideologies 100 percent,” Stewart said.
He added that Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter had also praised Paul Nehlen, a vicious anti-Semite running for Congress in Wisconsin that Stewart’s campaign had once named “volunteer of the week,” and said that “if guilt by association is standard,” then people should hold Sen. Tim Kaine–who Stewart will challenge in November–accountable for his ties to disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein via the Hillary Clinton campaign.
YouTube duo Diamond & Silk (Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson), who testified before Congress earlier this year after Facebook mistakenly flagged their fan page, were perhaps the biggest draw of the event and stepped on stage to a standing ovation. At the podium, the duo showered praise on Trump, at one point asking, “When I look at how our president has built this particular hotel. If he can do this and that, then why can’t he make America great again?”
“We support our flag, we support our military, we support our veterans, we support our police officers, and we support the 45th president of the United States, President Trump!” they said.
In a corner, attendees hoisted a flag that read “Trump 2020” while Diamond & Silk spoke.
Hardaway told attendees, “Next time they call our president, Donald J. Trump, a racist, this is what you tell them: Donald J. Trump is not a racist, he’s a realist, and the only color he sees is green, and he wants you to have some of it.”
The duo also defended Stewart, proclaiming, “They only smear who they fear.”
The “Deplorable Choir” vocal trio made a surprise appearance while bearing a guitar that was not strummed once during their brief song. The lyrics were as follows:
Well, we love God and family,
We support our troops through everything,
We got Trump 2020 on the back of our pickup trucks,
We back the blue and the NRA,
We’re for pro-life and American-made,
Raise your hand if you’re proud to be damn deplorable
Lt. Tony Shaffer, a Fox News frequent guest, gave a speech during which he claimed that the left had “weaponized children” to criticize the Trump administration’s separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“They’re now using children against us, trying to pull at our heartstrings … We cannot let the insanity of emotion overtake what’s in our best interest as a country,” Shaffer said.
Shaffer also brought up the fact that a Virginia restaurant owner had politely asked the White House press secretary to leave her establishment and compared the request to racial segregation.
He said, “This is someone who works for the president directly who is simply going out with their family to have a good time. This is the equivalent of being told, ‘Go to the back of the bus.’ We are not going to the back of the bus.”
Stephen Moore, a senior economic adviser to Trump during the 2016 campaign, took the podium and proclaimed that Trump’s election was the best night of his life, later apologizing to his wife.
“Republican women are so much more beautiful than Democratic women. They just are,” Moore said, adding that they are also “so much smarter.”
Moore went on to praise the economy under Trump.
In attendance was “Pizzagate” revisionist Jack Posobiec, who spoke briefly deriding “fake news” and promoting his new employer, One America News. Other self-ascribed “New Right” figures Cassandra Fairbanks and Will Chamberlain were seated near the back of the ballroom.
Right-wing conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer, despite the fact that she had been axed from the speaker lineup following her accusations that Posobiec had plagiarized her work, hovered outside the event in the nearby hotel bar.
In between speeches, Posobiec showed me an artist mock-up of himself in a “space force” comic drawn by the creators of the “Thump” Trump-centric children’s book.