WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump on Friday acknowledged the main Republican donor and six other "extraordinary Americans" with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor that the state has for a civilian.
Individuals who make "extraordinary contributions to American life and culture" have received medals, Trump said, adding that it was "privileged" to present it to six men and a woman representing the fields of entertainment, sports, law, medicine, politics and philanthropy .
Miriam Adelson is a doctor, philanthropist and wife of Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino king who is considered one of the strongest Republican donors in the country. The Adelsons donated $ 30 million to Trump's campaign in the final months of the 2016 race. They followed up by donating $ 100 million to the Republican Party for the midterm elections last week.
Trump said Miriam Adelson was "someone who works very hard. He doesn't have to do it, but he does it, 24 hours a day, this is what he does."
"Through decades of innovative research, philanthropy, and treatment, Miriam has helped thousands of people free from drug and alcohol addiction," Trump said. "I know the work you do, and you are truly extraordinary."
Miriam Adelson is a naturalized Israeli-born US citizen who earned a medical degree from Tel Aviv University and established a drug abuse research and treatment center in Las Vegas and Tel Aviv. She and her husband have a Las Vegas Review-Journal and Israeli Hayom newspaper.
The Adelsons are also loyal supporters of Israel. Trump noted how "very happy" they were that he moved the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Trump also honors Senator Orrin Hatch from Utah. One of the longest serving Republican senators in US history, Hatch retired in January after more than 40 years. Trump called Hatch "my good friend" who "liked me from the start, and because of that I like him."
Minnesota Supreme Court retiree Alan Page, who played with the Minnesota NFL Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears before turning to a career in law, and Roger Staubach, Quarterback Hall of Fame for the Dallas Cowboys, was also honored.
Posthumous awards were given to Elvis Presley, baseball woman Babe Ruth and Antonin Scalia, conservative Supreme Court judges. Six of the nine judges currently serving on the US Supreme Court, including the newest Brett Kavanaugh member, attended the White House ceremony.
Trump says Ruth and Presley are "true legends" whose inheritance will live forever.
Some people question Trump's decision to recognize Miriam Adelson immediately after the November 6 election.
Robert Weissman, president of the public interest group Public Citizen, said the decision was "a symbol of Donald Trump's corrupt and transactional presidency."
But Elliott Abrams, who holds foreign policy positions under President Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, called the complaint "ridiculous."
Abrams notes that Miriam Adelson has donated her time and money to combat addiction. He compared his appreciation with that given by President Barack Obama to Chita Rivera, Robert De Niro, Barbra Streisand, Ellen DeGeneres and Warren Buffett, among others.
"People who say nothing about all that and now criticize medals for Dr. Adelson are just being evil and partisan, and don't really see extraordinary knowledge and charity in the field of chemical addiction," Abrams said.
White House spokesman Lindsay Walters said Trump used the previous administrative process to choose his nomination. It was coordinated by the office of the staff secretary, incorporating recommendations from the public, the relevant presidential advisory body, the Cabinet and senior White House staff.
The President has full wisdom for who they respect with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
This award is given to individuals "who have made contributions that have greatly contributed to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to culture or other significant public or private efforts."
Miriam Adelson said she was "deeply moved and moved by this extraordinary honor."
"Freedom is at the heart of my decade of work against substance abuse. Drug dependence is slavery, for users and their families and communities, and for emancipation treatment," he said in a statement Thursday.
Associated Press writer Steve Peoples in New York, Michelle Price in Las Vegas and Josef Federman in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
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