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Trump Kennedy Center Honors
In this July 7, 2017 photo, President Donald Trump, left, and first lady Melania Trump smile prior to a concert on the first day of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany. The White House has announced that President Trump and the first lady have decided not to participate in events honoring recipients of this year's Kennedy Center arts awards. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Trump and the first lady have decided to skip the Kennedy Center arts awards


President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have elected to skip the annual Kennedy Center Honors in December to "allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction," the White House announced Saturday.

The Kennedy Center released a statement saying it respects the president's decision.

"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 honorees," Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein and President Deborah F. Rutter said in a joint statement. "We are grateful for this gesture."

In the past, presidents and first ladies have hosted a White House reception before attending the Kennedy Center gala.

Trump's decision comes just a day after the entire President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities resigned, in response to the president's comments about last week's violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The president blamed "many sides" for the violence that resulted in a 32-year-old woman's death.

Prior to the president's decision to skip the prestigious event, some of the Kennedy Center honorees had said they wouldn't attend the White House reception.

The White House released a statement Saturday, wishing all of this year's award recipients well.

The honorees will be celebrated at a Kennedy Center gala on Dec. 3. A State Department reception and awards dinner will be held as planned the night before.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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