Mired in controversy and protests from some of the entertainers set to be honored, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have decided to bow out of this year's Kennedy Center Honors ceremony, Variety reports the White House confirmed Saturday.
Several of the honorees — among them legendary TV producer Norman Lear and music icon Lionel Richie — had said they would not attend the White House reception in protest of Trump's widely panned response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, this month.
A statement from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared: "The President and First Lady have decided not to participate in this year’s activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction. First Lady Melania Trump, along with her husband President Donald J. Trump, extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year’s award recipients for their many accomplishments."
It is the capper to one of the most tumultuous weeks in any U.S. president's term, in which Trump's entire President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned en masse, Trump was forced to disband his business councils due to CEOs abandoning ship, and Trump's advisor Steve Bannon was given his walking papers.
The Kennedy Center Honors is an annual fundraiser for non-profit performing arts that celebrates the most accomplished figures in their respective fields.
This year's honorees include Lear and Richie, as well as Gloria Estefan, LL Cool J and dancer Carmen de Lavallade.
The event will be held December 3 and aired on CBS December 26.