Pres. Trump to skip Kennedy Center arts awards

President Donald Trump gestures while speaking following his meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., on Aug. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The White House has announced that President Donald Trump and the first lady have decided not to participate in events honoring recipients of this year’s Kennedy Center arts awards.

The statement says the decision to break with tradition was made to “allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.”

Past presidents and first ladies have hosted a reception for honorees at the White House before the Kennedy Center gala and sat with them at the televised event.

The decision comes a day after the entire membership of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned to protest Trump’s comments about last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Trump’s proposal to cut funding for the arts also had drawn into question whether he would be welcome at this year’s awards.

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