Trump to skip Kennedy Center Honors amid boycott threat; center is 'grateful'

President Trump and the first lady will not attend the famous awards ceremony.

The White House announced Saturday that the Trumps would not participate in the Dec. 3 event in Washington, D.C. to avoid "political distraction."

"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," press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement, adding that the president and Melania Trump "extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year's award recipients for their many accomplishments."

The Kennedy Center said that in addition to the Trumps' not attending, the traditional pre-ceremony reception at the White House was cancelled this year. The center seemed relieved by the president's decision, saying in a statement, "We are grateful for the gesture."

"The Kennedy Center respects the decision made by today by the president," said the statement tweeted by the center. "In choosing not to participate ... the administration has graciously signalled its respect for the Kennedy Center and ensures the Honors gala remains a deservingly special moment for the honorees."

“I am honored to accept the award," Lear told the Los Angeles Times on Aug. 4. "I could not respect the arts and humanities more, and I could not be more honored to be in the company that are being honored ... But I will not be going to the White House.”

"Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions," the letter signed by 16 of the committee's 17 members reads.

“Barbra is also a person with passionate convictions, and opinions that she is not afraid to share," Bush said. "I don’t know, at least that’s what they tell me. You know it kind of makes me think of another Barbara I know."

At the ceremony itself, the president even kissed her on her cheek, which Streisand recalled in a statement afterward.

“During the Kennedy Center Honors, President Bush gave me his signature wink (which he must have passed on to Sarah Palin) and mouthed, “We showed ’em.” Streisand said in a statement afterward. "I guess in some small way, he and I proved that we could agree to disagree, and, for that weekend, art transcended politics.”

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