Trump, first lady will not attend Kennedy
Center Honors: White House
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[August 21, 2017]
By Jonathan Landay
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President
Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump will not attend the Kennedy
Center Honors in December, the White House announced on Saturday, after
several honorees said they would boycott a White House reception before
The Kennedy Center also said in a statement the White House reception
"will no longer take place."
The White House said the president and first lady would not take part in
the Kennedy Center Honors "to allow the honorees to celebrate without
any political distraction."
The announcement came after television producer Norman Lear, singer
Lionel Richie and dancer Carmen de Lavallade said they would not attend
the White House reception that was set to take place prior to the Dec. 3
annual gala event. The other honorees are singer Gloria Estefan and
rapper LL Cool J.
The awards are presented each year in December to recognize honorees for
their lifetime contributions to the arts.
All five honorees are expected to attend a Dec. 2 dinner and awards
ceremony at the State Department, the Kennedy Center's chairman, David
Rubenstein, and its president, Deborah Rutter, in a statement.
The Kennedy Center "respects" the decision made by the Trumps, they
"In choosing not to participate in this year's Honors activities, the
administration graciously signaled its respect for the Kennedy Center
and ensures the Honors gala remains a deservingly special moment for the
honorees," Rubenstein and Rutter said.
De Lavallade, an African-American actress, dancer and choreographer,
said in a statement on her website that she was honored to receive the
award and would attend the show.
[to top of second column]
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wave as they
leave the White House in Washington, DC, U.S. on July 25, 2017.
REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo
But, she said that she would not go to the White House "in light of
the socially divisive and morally caustic narrative that our
existing leadership is choosing to engage in."
Her comments come after the president blamed "both sides" for
violence that erupted last week between counter-demonstrators and
neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and white nationalists holding a
"Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va.
Trump's comments prompted a slew of resignations from presidential
councils, including all 17 members of the President's Committee on
the Arts and Humanities.
In a New York Times article on Aug. 3, Lear was quoted as saying
that he would forgo the White House reception because, "This is a
presidency that has chosen to neglect totally the arts and
humanities — deliberately defund them — and that doesn’t rest
pleasantly with me."
The Kennedy Center Honors is the second annual Washington event that
Trump decided not to attend.
The president, who called the U.S. news media as "enemies of the
American people," also withdrew from the annual White House
(Reporting by Jonathan Landay; Editing by Toby Chopra and Diane
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