The Kennedy Center Honors and 6 Other Events That Trump Has Opted to Skip Since Taking Office
Since taking office, President Donald Trump has made something of a tradition of bucking tradition, including when it comes to which events he’s chosen to attend or host. Most recently, Trump announced that he and First Lady Melania Trump won’t be attending the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony in Washington, D.C. — and that’s just the latest. Here’s a running list of other events traditionally attended by presidents that Trump has opted out of.
1. THE KENNEDY CENTER HONORS
The White House announced on Saturday that the president and first lady will not be attending this year’s Kennedy Center Honors, which awards some of the biggest names in arts and entertainment annually. The move came after some honorees, including Lionel Richie and Gloria Estefan, publicly debated attending the event. (Richie told the Today show he’d play it by ear, while Estefan said she’d attend in the hopes that she could discuss immigration with Trump, Vanity Fair reported.) Television producer Norman Lear announced he’d boycott all parts of the evening, and choreographer and dancer Carmen de Lavallade said she’d attend the reception, but not the awards ceremony because of the actions of the current administration, according to a statement she released on Twitter.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the first couple would skip the event in order “to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.” She added that the Trumps “extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year’s award recipients for their many accomplishments.”
2. THE WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS’ DINNER
Trump has a notoriously rough relationship with the media — including the many outlets like CNN and The New York Times that he’s accused of publishing “fake news” — so the president’s announcement that he wouldn’t be attending the 2017 White House Correspondent’s Dinner in April wasn’t exactly shocking. He shared the news in a tweet on Feb. 25.
Huckabee Sanders defended Trump’s decision not to go, saying that he wasn’t elected “to spend his time with reporters and celebrities.” Instead, Trump hosted a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Trump also skipped the 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner — President Barack Obama’s final one in office — while the businessman was running for president. Trump told The Hill he stayed away because of, well, the press: “I’ve decided not to go. Do you know why? I would have a good time and the press would say I look like I wasn’t having a good time.”
3. THE ‘PITTSBURGH NOT PARIS’ RALLY
While announcing his decision to pull the United States out of the Paris accords, Trump said that he wanted to support Pittsburgh, not Paris. That line fueled a rally in support of his decision in early June, right across the street from the White House. His campaign hyped up the event, sending an email to supporters to share details about the rally and encouraging attendees to wear red, white and blue, according to NBC News.
Trump himself, however, spent the day nearby at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, according to a pool report.
4. G-20 SUMMIT (WELL, PART OF IT)
Trump was present for the vast majority of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, but for one well-documented moment, he stepped out, leaving his daughter and advisor Ivanka Trump to take his place during a meeting with other world leaders on July 8.
The move raised eyebrows on social media, and Trump later defended himself in two tweets, saying that if Hillary Clinton was president and asked her own daughter, Chelsea Clinton, to take her seat, the move would have been praised.
Chelsea Clinton responded, saying that it “would never have occurred” to either of her parents to ask her to do such a thing.
Typically, the secretary of state would sit in for the president in such an instance, according to CNN.
5. ANNUAL NAACP CONVENTION
Trump turned down the NAACP’s invitation to speak at its annual convention in July — breaking with a precedent set by the past several presidents on both sides of the aisle, from Ronald Reagan to Obama. As presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and John McCain also spoke at the NAACP convention during their respective election years. Trump declined the invitation to speak in 2016, too, according to CNN.
“During his campaign, President Trump asked us, ‘What do you have to lose?’ ” Russell said. “We get the message loud and clear. The president’s decision today underscores the harsh fact: We have lost – we’ve lost the will of the current administration to listen to issues facing the black community.”
6. THE ANNUAL WHITE HOUSE CINCO DE MAYO CELEBRATION
In 2016, Trump, then a candidate, was criticized for his Cinco De Mayo tweet praising the Trump Grill’s taco bowls and declaring “I love Hispanics!” As president in 2017, he elected not to hold the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration at the White House, a tradition that had existed for 16 years prior.
Instead of a White House celebration, Vice President Mike Pence hosted a smaller event at a separate location, according to The Hill. In Trump’s official statement about the holiday itself, he did not mention the lack of festivities.
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7. ANNUAL WHITE HOUSE RAMADAN DINNER
Trump broke with 20 years of White House tradition when he chose not to host the annual iftar dinner, which occurs at the end of the month-long Muslim holiday of Ramadan, according to The Independent. Though the dinner has been an annual tradition since 1996, Thomas Jefferson hosted the first dinner in 1805. Trump Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also declined to host a Ramadan reception, according to CNN.
Trump did release a statement on Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.
“Muslims in the United States joined those around the world during the holy month of Ramadan to focus on acts of faith and charity,” the statement read. “Now, as they commemorate Eid with family and friends, they carry on the tradition of helping neighbors and breaking bread with people from all walks of life.”