Bucking 16-year tradition, Trump won’t meet with US Nobel Prize winners
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Bucking 16-year tradition, Trump won’t meet with US Nobel Prize winners

After White House cites scheduling conflict, chemist Joachim Frank 'very relieved' to be spared encounter with president

US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters upon his return to the White House in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters upon his return to the White House in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Breaking with his two predecessors, US President Donald Trump will not meet with this year’s American Nobel Prize winners before they depart to Sweden to receive their awards.

Other than in 2006 and 2009, American presidents have met with the US recipients of the prestigious prize every year since 2001, according to STAT News, which first reported Trump would not meet with the Nobel laureates.

A White House spokesman said the US president would be unable to meet with the Nobel winners due to a “scheduling issue.”

“The president congratulates this year’s Nobel laureates. The White House is unable to make an event work given the demands on the president’s schedule, including a 12-day trip to Asia,” Raj Shah told The Washington Post, referring to the five-country tour Trump wrapped up on Tuesday.

STAT News reported that Michael Kratsios, Trump’s most senior appointee at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, will attend Tuesday’s reception at the Swedish embassy in Washington in the president’s stead.

Although Trump will not be at the event, not all of the laureates were mourning his absence.

Joachim Frank, who along with a Swiss and British researcher won this year’s prize in chemistry, said he was “very relieved” he would not have to cross paths with Trump.

“I will not put my foot into the White House as long as Trump, Pence, or Ryan (i.e., the possible succession of impeachments) will occupy it,” Frank told STAT News. “I cannot speak for the others; don’t know them personally yet, but I strongly believe that as thinking intelligent people they will have a similar attitude as I.”

Portraits of the winners of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry are seen on a screen (L-R) Jacques Dubochet from Switzerland, Joachim Frank from the US and Richard Henderson from Britain on October 4, 2017 at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, Sweden. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP)

An unnamed laureate also said he would have chosen not to attend the event if Trump would be there.

In addition to Frank, the other 2017 American Nobel winners are economist Richard Thaler; physicists Kip Thorne, Barry Barish and Rainer Weiss; and Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michal W. Young, who received the reward for their research on circadian rhythms.

Both Rosbash’s and Weiss’s families fled Nazi Germany, while Barish’s parents were Jewish immigrants from Poland.

While not Jewish himself, Thaler collaborated with Israeli economists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.

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