President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump will not attend this year’s annual Kennedy Center Honors in December.
According to a White House statement, “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.”
Several honorees had said they would boycott the White House reception. Both dancer Carmen de Lavallade and television producer Norman Lear had announced they would not attend that portion of the celebration.
“In light of the socially decisive and morally caustic narrative that our existing 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,” de Lavallade said last week, prior to the White House announcement.
In a joint statement, Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein and President Deborah F. Rutter said the center “respects the decision made today by the office of the President of the United States. 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 will be the fourth time a sitting president is not in attendance at the Honors, following Presidents Jimmy Carter in 1979, George H.W. Bush in 1989 and Bill Clinton in 1994. All three former presidents had attended the annual celebration other years while in office.