President and first lady skipping Kennedy Center Honors to eliminate 'political distraction'

President Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, will be skipping the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony this year to eliminate “political distraction.” 

The White House issued a statement on Saturday, noting, “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. 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.” 

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The statement also noted, “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 event, which marks its 40th anniversary this year, is slated to take place on December 3, and be televised on December 26. 

The president and first lady’s withdrawal comes on the heels of two of the honorees indicating they would not be attending parts of the celebration for political reasons; 86-year-old Carmen de Lavallade, a famed dancer and choreographer, stated, “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.”

And TV producer Norman Lear has said about his absence, “[the president] has chosen to neglect totally the arts and humanities – deliberately defund them – and that doesn’t rest pleasantly with me.” 

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