President, First Lady Skipping Kennedy Center Awards
White House wants to avoid 'political distraction’ at celebration
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 19, 2017 9:05 AM CDT
President Donald Trump pumps his fist as first lady Melania Trump watches after he spoke at the Covelli Centre, Tuesday, July 25, 2017, in Youngstown, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

(Newser) – The White House has announced that President Trump and the first lady have decided not to participate in events honoring recipients of this year's Kennedy Center arts awards. The statement says the decision to break with tradition was made to "allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction." Past presidents and first ladies have hosted a reception for honorees at the White House before the Kennedy Center gala and sat with them at the televised event, the AP reports.

The decision comes a day after the entire membership of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned to protest Trump's comments about last weekend's violence in Charlottesville, Va. Trump's proposal to cut funding for the arts also had drawn into question whether he would be welcome at this year's awards. The Kennedy Center released a statement, saying it respects Trump's 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."

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