An administrative official said there has been some discussion between the White House and the Obama team to hang the portrait, but no date has ever been officially scheduled.
“The presentation of the presidential portrait is one of three events that bring together former presidents. This level of animosity between an incumbent president and his predecessors is unprecedented in modern history,” Kate Andersen Brower, author of “Team of Five: The Presidents Club in the Age of Trump, “he told CNN.
Trump and Obama met only once in person since the inauguration day, at the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush in December 2018. They shook hands briefly at the start of the service but didn’t interact for the rest of the day.
The cold meeting encapsulated Trump’s uneasy stance in the President’s Club, which is typically marked by an apolitical attitude even among former political rivals.
Brower asked Trump in an interview with the Oval Office if 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?” Trump said, Brower writes in his book.
One of the traditional pieces of the club is the portrait that is revealed in the East Room of the White House, which in the past occurred sometimes in the first term of a new president. Obama hosted George W. Bush in 2012; Bush hosted Bill Clinton in 2004; Clinton hosted George H.W. Bush in 1995; and Elder Bush hosted Ronald Reagan in 1989.
The first ladies also participate in the ceremony and their portraits are also revealed.
In 2012, before the presentation of the Bush portrait, first lady Michelle Obama told the helpers of the event and the accompanying meal “must be perfect,” Brower said in the book.
“It was the first time they had returned to the house they had lived in for eight years. The staff at the residence, under the direction of Michelle Obama, had a long table set in the elegant Red Room, on the state floor, for the Bush ‘big family Fourteen bushes ate together and were served by the same butlers who had attended them for years in the upstairs residence, “Brower wrote.
Trump’s first term will end next January, and neither Obama nor Michelle should participate in a portrait unveiled before then, according to people familiar with the matter. If Trump wins the reelection in November, it is not clear that Obamas would have returned to the White House for a portrait ceremony during his second term.
Both the White House and Obama’s representatives declined to comment.
Obama, while not explicitly criticizing the way the President handled the current coronavirus pandemic, on Saturday cleared away the way the crisis was handled during the nationwide opening addresses.
The portrait revealed seems to be a victim of discord. As part of a process run by the White House Historic Association, presidents and early women generally choose a portrait painter before leaving the White House. The sessions and the final approval of the paintings occur subsequently.
While the Obamas were deeply involved in a separate pair of portraits hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, the status of their official portraits that would hang next to those of previous presidents and the first women in the White House is unclear.
On its website, the White House Historic Association states that all presidents since Jimmy Carter – who asked not to hold a ceremony – have returned to the White House for a presentation.
“These ceremonies are often bipartisan events with warm greetings and collegiate speeches exchanged by the president and their predecessor,” reads the website.