Politics

Trump awards Medal of Freedom to three golfers after his supporters attacked U.S. Capitol

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Key Points
  • President Donald Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to three professional golfers.
  • The closed-door ceremony came less than a day after his supporters rioted inside the U.S. Capitol.
  • The medals were awarded to retired golfers Annika Sorenstam, Gary Player and the late Babe Didrikson Zaharias.
US President Donald Trump looks on after presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Celtics basketball legend Bob Cousy in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on August 22, 2019.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

A day after his supporters rioted inside the U.S. Capitol, President Donald Trump turned his attention to golf.

Trump on Thursday awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to retired professional golfers Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player, and posthumously to Babe Didrikson Zaharias, who died in 1956.

Trump, who in his last public appearance Wednesday urged Vice President Mike Pence to reject the results of the November election, delivered the medals in a closed-door ceremony.

Trump's remarks to supporters at the rally outside the White House came just before a joint session of Congress convened to confirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory.

Pence, who presided over the event, declined Trump's demands to reject lawfully cast electoral votes.

Trump's supporters swarmed the Capitol, breaking through lines of law enforcement officers and invading the halls of Congress. The riots halted the proceedings and resulted in lockdowns and evacuation and the deaths of at least four people. At least 50 police officers were injured, police said. The National Guard was activated to respond to the attack.

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Pres. Trump asks First Lady to present Rush Limbaugh with Presidential Medal of Freedom at State of the Union Address

Congress reconvened that evening, eventually confirming Biden's victory after 3 a.m. Thursday.

The President Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor. It recognizes individuals who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

The three recipients Thursday will join Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Charlie Sifford and Tiger Woods as the only golfers to receive the award, according to NBC's Golf Channel, which first reported Thursday's award ceremony.

Trump is an avid golfer, and his business, the Trump Organization, owns numerous golf club resorts. The president has visited those clubs hundreds of times during his one term in office.

Disclosure: NBC and CNBC are divisions of NBCUniversal.