Robert De Niro stripped of leadership award following fiery anti-Trump speech

Robert De Niro stripped of leadership award following fiery anti-Trump speech

Movie legend Robert De Niro has been stripped of a prestigious leadership award, after a fiery speech outside the Donald Trump “hush-money” trial was deemed a “distraction” by organisers.

A jury convicted former president Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up a $130,000 hush money payment to adult star Stormy Daniels in the run-up to the 2016 election. Ms Daniels says that they had a sexual encounter in 2006, which the former president denies.

De Niro, 80, was invited by Trump’s opposition team, Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, to say a few words at a press conference outside the courthouse. He called the former Home Alone 2 star a “tyrant” and has been vocal in his criticism throughout the proceedings, even issuing a response following the verdict.

“When Trump ran in 2016 it was like a joke,” he said in the courthouse speech. “This buffoon running for president. No, never could happen. We have forgotten the lessons of history that showed us other clowns who weren’t taken seriously until they became vicious dictators. With Trump, we have a second chance, and no one is laughing now.”

The Oscar-winning actor was due to attend the National Association of Broadcasters Leadership Foundation’s Celebration of Service to America Awards next week where he was expected to receive their highest honour. The Goodfellas star was to be awarded the 2024 Service of Leadership Award in recognition of his charitable work and public service.

However, his invite to the ceremony has now been rescinded, according to The Huffington Post.

The Independent has contacted De Niro’s team for comment.

“The Celebration of Service to America Awards is dedicated to honoring the vital local journalism and public service that local radio and television stations provide to their communities,” the NAB said in a statement provided to Deadline. “This event is proudly bipartisan, uniting those from across the political spectrum to celebrate the impactful work of local broadcasters and our partners.”

The statement continued: “While we strongly support the right of every American to exercise free speech and participate in civic engagement, it is clear that Mr De Niro’s recent high-profile activities will create a distraction from the philanthropic work that we were hoping to recognize. To maintain the focus on service of the award winners, Mr De Niro will no longer be attending the event.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

De Niro responded to the developments with a statement to The Hill in which he said, “I support the work of the NAB Leadership Foundation and would like to express my appreciation and gratitude for what the Foundation has done and will continue to do for the good of us all, and I wish them well for their continued good work.”

Trump and De Niro have previously exchanged blows in the past as the actor has been a fierce critic of the former president’s policies, while The Apprentice star has branded him a “loser” in return.

“Robert De Niro, whose acting talents have greatly diminished, with his reputation now shot, must even use a teleprompter for his foul and disgusting language, so disrespectful to our Country,” he wrote in a post last year.

“He has become unwatchable both in movies, and with the FOOLS that destroyed the Academy Awards, bringing them from one of the top shows in the Country to a Low Rated afterthought,” the ex-president added. “De Niro should focus on his life, which is a mess, rather than the lives of others. He has become a total loser, as the World watches, waits, and laughs!”