Trump Hosts First Official Movie Screening in White House Theater Amid Protests

Finding Dory Still 2 - Publicity - H 2016
Courtesy of Pixar

Finding Dory Still 2 - Publicity - H 2016

His pick? 'Finding Dory.'

After a night where the effects of his immigration ban reverberated across the nation and the world, President Donald Trump spent Sunday afternoon at the White House with family and friends watching Finding Dory, a film about a separated family who travels the ocean in hopes of reuniting.

The White House confirmed the 3 p.m. ET movie screening was of the Pixar and Disney animated blockbuster. An entry on Trump's official press schedule indicated a movie screening would be held in the family theater.

Hollywood has made its movies available to the White House, should the president's staff want to see a particular title, dating back to the early 1900s. The first film to be shown inside the White House was 1915's The Birth of a Nation, which was screened by Woodrow Wilson. A source says the Trump White House has also asked to see the year-end comedy Why Him?, starring James Franco and Bryan Cranston.

The timing of Trump's Sunday afternoon screening drew attention on social media, given the outcry and protests that swept the nation Saturday night and early Sunday morning after the president's immigration ban went into effect. Trump's executive order blocked U.S. entry for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim nations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — for 90 days. It also suspended entry of all refugees for 120 days and barred Syrian refugees indefinitely.

Despite an order from a federal New York judge temporarily halting the deportation of detained travelers with valid visas from the listed countries, the Department of Homeland Security announced Sunday that it "will continue to enforce all of President Trump’s Executive Orders in a manner that ensures the safety and security of the American people."

Protests continued Sunday afternoon, taking place as Trump's screening was underway.

Finding Dory stars Ellen DeGeneres, who returned to voice the titular, forgetful blue fish from 2003's Finding Nemo. Dory, who suffers from short-term memory loss, traverses the ocean in search for her long-lost parents with the help of Nemo (voiced by Hayden Rolence in the sequel) and his father Marlin (voiced by the returning Albert Brooks). The sequel landed the biggest domestic opening of all time for an animated title with $136.2 million when it premiered last summer.

Judd Apatow replied to tweets about the Finding Dory screening by saying Trump "relates to Ellen's character who has no attention span."

After reports of the screening, DeGeneres addressed the ban in two tweets.

"For me, America is great because of all the people who came here. Not in spite of them," she tweeted, using the hashtag #NoBan. She then added, "P.S. My grandparents were immigrants. The woman making us pizza right now is Muslim. And I'm grateful for all of them."

Later on Sunday afternoon, the White House released a statement from Trump, defending the immigration order and taking aim at the media's coverage of the ban.

“America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border," read the statement. "America has always been the land of the free and home of the brave. We will keep it free and keep it safe, as the media knows, but refuses to say. My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months. The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror."

The statement stressed that the order is not a Muslim ban.

"To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting," Trump said in the statement. "This is not about religion — this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order. We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days. I have tremendous feeling for the people involved in this horrific humanitarian crisis in Syria. My first priority will always be to protect and serve our country, but as President I will find ways to help all those who are suffering.”

Jan. 29, 2:40 p.m.: Updated with White House statement.