Trump an­nounces next seven re­cip­i­ents of the Medal of Free­dom


Washington — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has an­nounced his first re­cip­i­ents of the Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom and they in­clude the wife of a ma­jor Repub­li­can Party donor, the long­est-serv­ing Repub­li­can sen­a­tor in U.S. his­tory, Elvis Pres­ley and Babe Ruth.

Trump will also posthu­mously rec­og­nize the late Supreme Court Jus­tice An­tonin Scalia.

Medals are go­ing to Miriam Adel­son, a doc­tor and wife of casino mag­nate Shel­don Adel­son, a Repub­li­can donor; Utah Sen. Or­rin Hatch, who is re­tir­ing af­ter more than 41 years in the U.S. Se­nate; for­mer Dal­las Cow­boys quar­ter­back Roger Staubach and Alan Page, who be­gan a le­gal ca­reer af­ter leav­ing the NFL.

The Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom is the na­tion’s high­est honor for a civil­ian.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Satur­day named seven in­di­vid­u­als who will re­ceive the high­est civil­ian honor, the Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom, next week — a list that in­cludes a GOP mega-donor.

The awardees are re­tir­ing Sen. Or­rin Hatch, R-Utah, sports leg­en­daries Babe Ruth and Roger Staubach, mu­si­cian Elvis Pres­ley, the late Supreme Court jus­tice An­tonin Scalia, for­mer Min­nesota Supreme Court jus­tice Alan Page, and Miriam Adel­son, a physi­cian and wife of Shel­don Adel­son, a bil­lion­aire casino mag­nate.

In its news re­lease, the White House cited Adel­son's re­search in nar­cotic ad­dic­tion, her found­ing of two cen­ters to fight sub­stance abuse and her sup­port of Jewish or­ga­ni­za­tions. The re­lease does not men­tion that the Adel­sons also con­trib­uted at least $87 mil­lion to GOP can­di­dates in the 2018 midterms.

The award, estab­lished 50 years ago by Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy, is be­stowed to in­di­vid­u­als “who have made es­pe­cially mer­i­to­ri­ous con­tri­bu­tions to the se­cu­rity of na­tional in­ter­ests of the United States, to world peace, or to cul­tural or other sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic or pri­vate en­deav­ors,” ac­cord­ing to a re­lease by the White House.

Adel­son's se­lec­tion, how­ever, raised some ques­tions about her qual­i­fi­ca­tions for the award and also whether the White House was re­ward­ing a donor.

The White House did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to ques­tions about crit­i­cism of Adel­son's se­lec­tion.

Hatch, mean­while, who an­nounced he plans to re­tire at the end of this year, is the long­est-serv­ing Repub­li­can sen­a­tor in the his­tory of the United States, hav­ing been a cham­ber mem­ber since 1977.

Pres­ley was a cul­tural icon of the 20th cen­tury, a star of both mu­sic and film. Though known as the “King of Rock and Roll,” he was singer whose reper­toire in­cluded blues, coun­try, pop and gospel. The best-sell­ing solo artist in the his­tory of recorded mu­sic, he re­ceived mul­ti­ple ac­co­lades, in­clud­ing a Grammy Life­time Achieve­ment Award. He died in 1977.

Ruth, known as “The Sul­tan of Swat,” held the Ma­jor League Base­ball's home run record, 714, un­til Hank Aaron sur­passed it in 1974. He was one of the first five in­ductees in the Base­ball Hall of Fame. The New York Yan­kees leg­end died in 1948.

Staubach was an all-star quar­ter­back for the Dal­las Cow­boys, lead­ing the NFL team to the Su­per Bowl five times, while win­ning two. Be­fore go­ing pro, he at­tended the U.S. Naval Academy, where he won the Heis­man Tro­phy, and did a tour of duty in the Viet­nam War.

Page, who also played in the NFL, was the first black Supreme Court jus­tice in Min­nesota.

Scalia served on the na­tion's high­est court from 1986 un­til his death in 2016. A staunch con­ser­va­tive, Scalia ad­vo­cated orig­i­nal­ism in in­ter­pret­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion and op­posed the right to abor­tion and same-sex mar­riage. He is well-re­mem­bered for his strongly-worded mi­nor­ity opin­ion in sev­eral key court de­ci­sions.

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