President Donald Trump on Friday awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest honor for civilians, to Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch and six others at a White House ceremony.
“He liked me right from the beginning and therefore, I like him,” Trump said of Hatch. “That helps. It’s the ways it is. I guess I’m not supposed to say it, but that’s the way life works, right?”
Hatch supported Trump in 2016, but not before he first endorsed Jeb Bush, then Sen. Marco Rubio during the Republican primary.
Calling Hatch “a great friend” and “true American statesman,” Trump praised the 84-year-old’s accomplishments during his 42 years in the Senate. He noted that Hatch has sponsored more bills that have been signed into law than any other living legislator.
“From rewriting our tax code to helping just hard-working Americans get through life, to reshaping our courts, … to protecting the religious freedom of all Americans, his achievements are too numerous to count,” Trump said.
Hatch will retire from the Senate in January. Republican Mitt Romney recently won election to Hatch’s seat.
Trump also awarded the Medal of Freedom to philanthropist Miriam Adelson, the wife of GOP donor Sheldon Adelson as well as retired NFL players Roger Staubach and Alan Page, who now serves as a Justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court. The president posthumously gave the award to baseball legend Babe Ruth, musician Elvis Presley and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Senator Hatch, with the members of the Supreme Court.
Senator Hatch has participated in the confirmation of every sitting Justice, as well as the late Justice Scalia who was also honored today. pic.twitter.com/7ZtEoZ41oR
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) November 16, 2018