Trump, who has spent his presidency attacking his predecessor, doesn’t plan a ceremony unveiling the official White House portrait of Barack Obama.
Trump would be breaking a 40-year tradition upheld by both Republican and Democratic presidents
President Donald Trump, breaking with decades of White House tradition, reportedly will not host a ceremony unveiling the official portrait of his immediate predecessor amid burgeoning tensions with former President Barack Obama. All U.S. presidents since Gerald Ford ― save for Jimmy Carter, who requested not to have a ceremony ― have returned to the White House at some point during their successor’s first term for an unveiling of their official portrait, NBC News reported.
First ladies have traditionally also attended the ceremony and their portraits are unveiled as well. But Trump has no plans to invite Barack Obama and Michelle Obama for such an unveiling, NBC and CNN reported this week. Further, the former president “has no interest in participating in the post-presidency rite of passage so long as Trump is in office,” NBC reported, citing people familiar with the matter. If “Trump wins a second term in November, it could be 2025 before Obama returns to the White House to see his portrait displayed” in the East Room, the network added.
Republican presidents have hosted Democratic presidents and vice versa, even when one of them took office after defeating the other. “We may have our differences politically, but the presidency transcends those differences,” Barack Obama said of former President George W. Bush when he hosted his portrait unveiling in 2012. “George, you went out of your way, to make sure the transition to new administration was as seamless as possible,” Obama said at the time, as reported by Business Insider.
News of the apparent nixing of the portrait ceremony comes days after Trump accused Obama of an unspecified crime he dubbed “Obamagate” and after Obama’s swipe at Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in a video commencement address. Trump, who falsely claimed Obama isn’t a U.S. citizen before his election, has spent his presidency attacking Obama’s signature accomplishments and smearing his legacy.
Trump and Obama’s contentious relationship has been well-documented for years. Last week, he demanded Republicans summon Obama to testify about “the biggest political crime and scandal” in US history after declassified documents named the ex-president as one of the officials who requested the “unmasking” of Michael Flynn.
In a rare move, Obama ripped the US response to the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday, saying the current administration isn’t “even pretending to be in charge. More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing,” Obama said in an address to graduates of historically black colleges and universities.
“A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”The remarks prompted Trump to slam Obama as “grossly incompetent”.”Look, he was an incompetent president, that’s all I can say,” Trump told reporters at the White House the following day.