President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have elected not to attend the annual Kennedy Center Honors in December amid a political backlash among those who will be feted at the event.
The first family will not participate “to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Saturday morning.
The announcement comes as three of the five honorees – television producer Norman Lear, singer Lionel Richie and dancer Carmen de Lavallade – said they would or may boycott the traditional White House reception related to the celebration. As for the other two, rapper LL Cool J had not said whether he would attend, and Cuban-American singer Gloria Estefan said she would go to try to influence the president on immigration issues.
In the White House statement, Sanders said the Trumps “extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year’s award recipients for their many accomplishments.”
The awards program will take place Dec. 3 and will be broadcast Dec. 26.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · David Nakamura, Amy B Wang, Peter Marks