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Evan Vucci / AP

The annual black-tie dinner of the Alfalfa Club is the board meeting of America's establishment: The 750 guests tonight include Warren Buffett, Tim Cook, Jamie Dimon, Bill Gates, Bob Gates, Vernon Jordan, Charlie Rose, Jeb Bush, James Baker and plenty more moguls and grandees. The head table, stretching across a giant ballroom, includes the Cabinet, the congressional leadership and the cream of the diplomatic corps.

President Trump's name is in the program, seated between Michael Bloomberg and Chief Justice Roberts.

But in a shot at the swamp, Trump isn't coming. The White House says he'll be working, and never committed to going. Vice President Pence is still expected and some West Wing officials, including Kellyanne Conway, plan to attend. Chief strategist Steve Bannon was going, but now will be with the president in some briefings.

Others from the Trump inner circle who are expected: Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus, Gary Cohn, Hope Hicks, deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, incoming Sec. of State Rex Tillerson, incoming Sec. of Defense James Mattis and incoming Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross. Dina Powell, Trump's senior counselor for economic initiatives, is a "sprout" – an inductee to Alfalfa.

The evening includes funny speeches, with plenty of barbs aimed at the president. During the debate over whether Trump should go, some aides worried that a zinger might rankle the boss. Now they won't have to fret about the piercing comedy stylings of Mayor Bloomberg and Erskine Bowles.

Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
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Go deeper

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2 hours ago - Health

Pfizer CEO feels "liberated" after taking COVID vaccine

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla tells "Axios on HBO" that he recently received his first of two doses of the company's coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: Bourla told CNBC in December that company polling found that one of the most effective ways to increase confidence in the vaccine was to have the CEO take it.

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Ripple CEO: SEC lawsuit is "bad for crypto" in the U.S.

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse tells "Axios on HBO" that if his company loses a lawsuit brought by U.S. regulators, it would put the country at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to cryptocurrencies.

Between the lines: The SEC in December sued Ripple, and Garlinghouse personally, for allegedly selling over $1.3 billion in unregistered securities. Ripple's response is that its cryptocurrency, called XRP, didn't require registration because it's an asset rather than a security.

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Pfizer CEO: "It will be terrible" if COVID-19 vaccine prices limit access

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told "Axios on HBO" that it "will be terrible for society" if the price of coronavirus vaccines ever prohibits some people from taking them.

Why it matters: Widespread uptake of the vaccine — which might require annual booster shots — will reduce the risk of the virus continuing to spread and mutate, but it's unclear who will pay for future shots or how much they'll cost.