Washington announced early Saturday that United states President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, would not participate in this year’s Kennedy Center Honors, “to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.”
Trump’s decision not to attend the Kennedy Center celebration means that it will be just the fourth time in the program’s 40-year history that a president will not be in attendance. In 1994, President Bill Clinton skipped the event while on his way to Budapest for a conference. In 1989, President George Bush was preoccupied with a summit meeting in Malta with Mikhail S. Gorbachev. In 1979, Jimmy Carter did not attend because of the Iran hostage crisis.
The announcement comes after a week of political instability in the White House following the racial unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia last Saturday. Trump was widely criticized by politicians on both sides of the aisle for his response to the deadly violence that erupted at a white supremacist rally in that city last weekend.
This year, honorees include dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, singer-songwriter and actress Gloria Estefan, hip hop artist and actor LL Cool J, television writer and producer Norman Lear and musician and record producer Lionel Richie, the Kennedy Center said in a statement.
Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein and President Deborah F. Rutter also released a statement:
“The Kennedy 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.”
on Friday, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was fired — the latest of a number of high-profile West Wing exits in recent months.
“First Lady Melania Trump, along with her husband President Donald Trump, extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year’s award recipients for their many accomplishments,” the White House statement said
Richie said he would maybe go, Estefan said she would be present and attempt to bring attention to the value of immigrants, Politico said.
A Kennedy Center official said this will be the fourth instance of a President not attending the event. President Jimmy Carter skipped it in 1979, President H.W. Bush in 1989 and President Bill Clinton in 1994. However, those presidents came during other years while they were in office, the official said.