The official White House portrait unveiling for former President Barack Obama isn’t expected anytime soon as Trump accuses him of unsubstantiated and unspecified crimes.
NBC News reported the apparent end of a long tradition of first-term presidents hosting their immediate predecessor at the White House to unveil an official portrait.
Kate Andersen Brower, author of Team of Five: The Presidents Club in the Age of Trump told CNN,
“Presidential portrait unveilings are one of the three events that bring former presidents together.
This level of animosity between a sitting president and his predecessors is unprecedented in modern history.”
Trump and Obama have met just once in person since Inauguration Day, at the funeral for former President George H.W. Bush in December of 2018. They shook hands briefly.
Brower asked Trump in an Oval Office interview whether he would go to the opening of Obama’s presidential library, which is still years away.
“He probably wouldn’t invite me. Why should he?”
One of the traditional set-pieces of the club is the portrait unveiling in the White House East Room.
- Obama hosted George W. Bush in 2012
- Bush hosted Bill Clinton in 2004
- Clinton hosted George H.W. Bush in 1995
- Bush Sr. hosted Ronald Reagan in 1989.
In 2012, ahead of Bush’s portrait unveiling, first lady Michelle Obama told aides the event and accompanying meal “needs to be perfect”, Brower reported in the book,
“It was the first time they had been back to the house they had lived in for eight years.
The residence staff, at Michelle Obama’s direction, had a long table set in the elegant Red Room, on the State Floor, for the Bushes’ large extended family. Fourteen Bushes had a meal together and were served by the same butlers who had attended to them for years in the upstairs residence.”
Normally, under a process administered by the White House Historical Association, presidents and first ladies choose a portraitist before leaving the White House. Sittings and final approval of the paintings occur afterward.
The Obamas were very involved in a separate pair of portraits that hang at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, but these are not their official portraits that will hang alongside those of past presidents and first ladies in the White House.
(Photo, screen grab; via CNN)