“He’ll marginalize people,” Mr. John told the news site Mic in the summer of 2016. “He’s already doing it.” The warning was prescient: After Mr. Trump’s election victory, his administration aggressively moved to strip away the rights of people in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
“I’m not a Republican in a million years,” Mr. John told The Guardian in early 2016 regarding the use of his music at Trump rallies. “Why not ask Ted Nugent?” he said of the far-right musician, adding an expletive.
Yet somehow, Mr. John was one of few celebrities able to publicly reject Mr. Trump and not get a nuclear-grade Twitter insult in response. Though he was spurned, Mr. Trump remained a fan, to the point that John’s music was awkwardly laced through one of the most geopolitically volatile situations facing the Trump administration.
Mr. Trump called Kim Jong-un, the North Korean ruler, “Little Rocket Man.” To prove to Mr. Kim that it was really more of a pet name than an insult, Mr. Trump directed his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to personally deliver a “Honky Château” CD to the dictator.
“Getting this CD to Kim remained a high priority for several months,” John Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, wrote in his memoir.
After spending several years with his music piped into Mr. Trump’s political wind turbine, Mr. John, who is 75, seems intent on reclaiming his music and reaffirming his support of communities that Mr. Trump and his supporters have maligned.
Michael Feeney, a spokesman for A+E Networks and The History Channel, two networks paying for the event on Friday evening, said that he had worked with Mr. John’s team to plan the event, which took place mostly through discussions with officials in the East Wing. The public broadcast included just one song, the 1970 hit “Your Song.” He is scheduled to play a full concert at Nationals Park on Saturday.