President Trump awarded the Medal of Freedom, one of the highest civilian honors, to former Reagan-era Attorney General Edwin Meese on Tuesday.
Meese, 87, is now widely thought of as a leader of the Reagan-era conservative movement. But he also left the administration in the face of ethical concerns. He was accused of "blindness to the abuse of the position" as attorney general in a report authored by former Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox.
During the ceremony, Mr. Trump spoke about Meese's long list of roles in state and federal civil service. At one point, the president joked that Meese's contentious and lengthy confirmation process to be attorney general sounded like "what we go through," referring to his own administration.
After receiving the award, Meese thanked all of those in attendance and congratulated Attorney General William Barr for the work he is doing.
In a statement issued by the Heritage Foundation, where he is a fellow emeritus, Meese said he's grateful for the opportunity.
"I am greatly honored to receive such recognition from President Trump," Meese said in a statement. "For many years, I had the privilege of serving the country under President Ronald Reagan. During that time and throughout my life and career, my aim has been to remain committed to the Constitution, the rule of law and the conservative American values that have made America 'the shining city upon a hill.'"
The award comes as Mr. Trump faces a slew of questions over his abrupt decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria, and over the ongoing impeachment inquiry over his call with Ukraine's president.
This event has ended.