Joseph diGenova resigns from Gridiron Club after saying fired cybersecurity official should be shot


Still, the White House denounced the statement, Krebs said he would consider legal action — and the 135-year-old Gridiron Club asked diGenova to step down.

“We were dismayed by his comments and we felt that they were, on top of everything else, just antithetical to what the club is about,” said club president Craig Gilbert, the Washington bureau chief for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “It’s a social club — we’re all about fellowship and good will.”

The Gridiron Club is primarily an organization for Washington journalists, but it is best known for an annual formal dinner that also ropes in political luminaries and a raucous musical-comedy presentation of satirical songs and skits. DiGenova, who served as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia in the 1980s, had been a “limited” member for more than 25 years, one of a handful of “ringers” recruited for their impressive singing voices.

DiGenova confirmed the sequence of events and said “I have no ill will toward” the club and its board.

“I was happy to be a member,” he said. “It’s their club, and we’re at a strange time in American history, and, I guess I was cancelled.”

In a statement Tuesday, he explained that his comments about Krebs “were sarcastic and made in jest. I, of course, wish Mr. Krebs no harm. This was hyperbole in a political discourse.” On Wednesday, he told The Washington Post that his comments had prompted a flurry of threatening phone calls, and that his law firm was hiring private private security for him, his wife and their employees.

Founded in 1885, the Gridiron Club is famously bipartisan. Trump has given remarks at the dinner, and in 2019, so did Ivanka Trump, who joked that “being Donald Trump’s daughter” was the hardest job in the world.

While officially not off-the-record, the proceedings are not televised, lending them a different vibe than some of the city’s other media-political galas, and far less of a lightning rod than the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, where caustic routines by professional comics have raised claims of partisan bias.

DiGenova said he didn’t agree with that reasoning and called his ouster this week “the full circle of the story.”

“It’s a wonderful club and I have enjoyed it immensely. I had great fun and met many wonderful people in the press,” he said. “Again, it’s their club, and I’m just a roving minstrel.”

The club ended up calling off its March dinner due to the pandemic, and plans to host its next event on Sept. 18, 2021.

“We think there’s still a place for an event like this, where people can mingle and have a meal together and sort of poke fun at each other amid their differences,” Gilbert said, “That is the tradition and obviously in some ways today it may be more challenging, but arguably, more important.”

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