President, first lady to skip Kennedy Center arts awards

US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania arrive at Fiumicino's Leonardo Da Vinci International airport, near Rome, Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Trump is in Italy for a two day visit, including a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, ahead of his participation in a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

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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