Trump to skip Kennedy Cen­ter Honors awards pro­gram

The Progress-Index Weekend - - OPINION -

By Dar­lene Su­perville The As­so­ci­ated Press

BRIDGE­WA­TER, N.J. — Ac­knowl­edg­ing that he has be­come a “po­lit­i­cal dis­trac­tion,” Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has de­cided to skip the fes­tiv­i­ties sur­round­ing the an­nual Kennedy Cen­ter Honors arts awards later this year, the White House an­nounced Satur­day amid the con­tin­u­ing fall­out over Trump’s stance on last week­end’s white su­prem­a­cist demon­stra­tion in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia.

The Kennedy Cen­ter said it re­spected Trump’s de­ci­sion and the show will go on.

Trump and first lady Me­la­nia Trump reached their de­ci­sion Fri­day, a White House of­fi­cial said, the same day that the en­tire mem­ber­ship of the Pres­i­dent’s Com­mit­tee on the Arts and the Hu­man­i­ties re­signed in protest over Trump’s re­marks about Char­lottesville. The of­fi­cial was not au­tho­rized to pub­licly dis­cuss in­ter­nal de­lib­er­a­tions and in­sisted on anonymity to com­ment.

Trump has blamed “both sides” for the Aug. 12 vi­o­lence that left an anti-racism ac­tivist dead.

Pres­i­dents tra­di­tion­ally host a light-hearted and of­ten­times hu­mor­ous gath­er­ing for the hon­orees at the White House be­fore the awards cer­e­mony at the per­form­ing arts cen­ter. Trump will not hold that re­cep­tion this year, and he and the first lady will not at­tend the gala.

It will be the fourth time in the awards’ 40-year his­tory that a pres­i­dent will miss out on the cer­e­mony.

Trump long has had a con­tentious re­la­tion­ship with the arts world and some of those be­ing rec­og­nized for life­time achieve­ment in their fields had al­ready made clear they would boy­cott a White House re­cep­tion presided over by Trump.

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