Donald and Melania Trump Will Skip Kennedy Center Honors to Avoid 'Political Distraction'

Donald and Melania Trump Will Skip Kennedy Center Honors to Avoid 'Political Distraction'

POTUS and the First Lady decide not to attend the awards, which will honor LL Cool J, Lionel Richie and Gloria Estefan among others, amid a sea of backlashes from honorees.
Donald Trump is breaking the tradition again. The president announced on Saturday, August 19 that he and wife Melania Trump would not attend this year's Kennedy Center Honors ceremony, after numerous backlashes from honorees.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement, "Each year, the Kennedy Center honors the careers and achievements of artists who have helped shape cultural life in the United States with a weekend that includes celebrations and events."

"The president and first lady have decided not to participate in this year's activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction," the statement continued. "First lady Melania Trump, along with her husband President Donald J. Trump, extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year's award recipients for their many accomplishments."

Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein and President Deborah Rutter responded to the decision, "In choosing not to participate in this year's Honors activities, the administration has graciously signaled its respect for the Kennedy Center and ensures the Honors gala remains a deservingly special moment for the honorees. We are grateful for this gesture."

This year's honorees include LL Cool J, Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan, dancer-choreographer Carmen de Lavallade and TV producer Norman Lear, the latter of which said earlier this month that he would boycott the ceremony because of Trump.

de Lavallade also said that she would be skipping the White House reception, but would attend the awards ceremony. "In light of the socially divisive and morally caustic narrative that our current leadership is choosing to engage in, and in keeping with the principles that I and so many others have fought for, I will be declining the invitation to attend the reception at the White House," she posted on Twitter.

President Trump has skipped a number of annual events regularly attended by past presidents, including the White House Correspondents' Dinner, likely to avoid any confrontations with non-supporters. He recently received backlash for blaming "both sides" for the violence during white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12 that left one dead.

The 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors will be taped on December 3 and will air December 26 on CBS.

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