Embattled president, wife to skip art awards

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania will skip one of America's top art awards, the Kennedy Centre Honours, the White House announced last Saturday in the latest sign of the President's growing isolation after one of the most disastrous weeks of his young administration.

The decision - which came after several honourees said they would boycott a White House reception for the awards - was intended to allow the events to go ahead without "political distraction", Mr Trump's spokesman said.

Last Saturday, Kennedy Centre chairman David Rubenstein and president Deborah Rutter said they were "grateful for this gesture" by the Trumps, adding in a statement: "The administration has graciously signalled its respect for the Kennedy Centre and ensures the Honours gala remains a deservingly special moment for the honourees."

Some of the honourees have been sharply critical of Mr Trump, particularly after he said last Tuesday that "both sides" were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, during a rally by neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

Television writer and producer Norman Lear - of sitcoms like The Jeffersons and All In The Family - said shortly after being named an honouree that he would not attend the White House reception.

Singer Lionel Richie - the pop legend behind hits such as All Night Long, Hello and Endless Love - told NBC last week that he was "not really happy as to what's going on" and was going to "play it by ear".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2017, with the headline 'Embattled president, wife to skip art awards'. Print Edition | Subscribe