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President Donald Trump for the first time awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Friday, adding to a tradition in which the leader of the U.S. honors individuals who have made significant positive impacts on American life.
Among the seven people Trump chose to receive the nation’s highest civilian honor was the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whose widow Maureen attended the White House ceremony.
After naming the couple’s nine children ― Ann, Eugene, John, Catherine, Mary, Paul, Matthew, Christopher and Margaret ― the president realized something about the ultra-conservative and ultra-Catholic Scalias’ private life.
“You were very busy,” Trump told Maureen Scalia, who once ran a household so traditional that her children were forbidden from wearing jeans to their public school. Her husband died in 2016 of natural causes.
“Wow,” the president said as he pondered the nine offspring. Then, after a pause, “Wow.”
“I always knew I liked him,” Trump added of the late justice.
Trump’s remarks elicited some laughter from the audience, and at least one woman made a face-palm gesture.
His other Medal of Freedom honorees were Elvis Presley, Babe Ruth, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), retired NFL quarterback Roger Staubach, former Minnesota Supreme Court justice and NFL star Alan Page, and philanthropist and donor Miriam Adelson, who is married to GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.