Trump sets aside political differences, makes an unannounced visit to US Capitol with Melania to pay respects to George HW Bush

President Trump saluted the casket and First Lady Melania Trump put her hand on her heart as they approached Bush's flag-draped coffin.


                            Trump sets aside political differences, makes an unannounced visit to US Capitol with Melania to pay respects to George HW Bush

President Trump and First lady Melania quietly visited the Capitol Rotunda Monday evening to pay respects to former president George H.W. Bush, where he lay in state. Both the president and his wife appeared solemn as they entered the rotunda holding hands and approached Bush's coffin, which was draped in the star-spangled banner. While Trump saluted his remains, the first lady placed her right hand over her heart, Daily Mail reports.

The first couple, for whom the US Capitol Police cleared the rotunda of visitors before their arrival, left silently after paying their respects. While the room was eerily silent and cordoned off when they entered, the Dome outside was lit up, welcoming well-wishers to visit throughout the night and through Wednesday morning.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump pay their respects to former President George H.W. Bush as he lies in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on December 3, 2018, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump pay their respects to former President George H.W. Bush as he lies in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on December 3, 2018, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images)

The rotunda had been reopened to the public within five minutes of the pair's departure when mourners poured into the room to pay tributes to the 41st president of the United States.

Despite the years-long tension between Trump and the Bush family, the president and first lady will attend Bush's memorial service at Washington National Cathedral on Wednesday. Vice President Mike Pence delivered a heart-rending tribute to the 41st POTUS during a procession where he represented the current White House.

That said, the sitting president declared Wednesday a national day of mourning and ordered flags to fly at half-staff at the White House in solidarity. The White House has confirmed that both Trump and Melania will visit the National Cathedral on Wednesday where Bush will be honored in remarks by his ex-president son George W. Bush.

(L-R) Former U.S. President George W. Bush, former first lady Laura Bush, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Columba Bush attend a memorial service for former President George H.W. Bush in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda December 03, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
(L-R) Former U.S. President George W. Bush, former first lady Laura Bush, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Columba Bush attend a memorial service for former President George H.W. Bush in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda December 03, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The former real estate mogul harangued Bush's elder son in the 2016 campaign for the Iraq War and frequently mocked his younger son Jeb with a nickname "low energy". However, the former Republican president revealed after the 2016 election that he voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton and referred to Trump as a "blowhard".

Bush had stopped signing autographs three months before his death. But he made a special exception for a marine aviator who had just graduated from flight school and was about to be awarded his golden wings. The young aviator's name was Marine 1st Lt. Michael Pence, the Vice President's son. He had landed his first tailhook earlier that summer on the prestigious U.S.S. George H.W. Bush.

 U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks with former President George W. Bush during an arrival ceremony as former President George H.W. Bush lies in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on December 3, 2018, in Washington, DC. (Getty)
 U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks with former President George W. Bush during an arrival ceremony as former President George H.W. Bush lies in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on December 3, 2018, in Washington, DC. (Getty)

The elder Pence revealed a letter written by the 94-year-old former commander-in-chief to his son, which read: "Congratulations on receiving your wings of gold, I know how proud you and your family are at this moment. Though we have not met I share the pride your father has for you during this momentous occasion, and I wish you many CAVU days ahead. All the best, G Bush."

Donald Trump and Melania Trump pay their respects to Former President George H. W. Bush as he lies in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on December 03, 2018 in Washington, DC. A WWII combat veteran, Bush served as a member of Congress from Texas, ambassador to the United Nations, director of the CIA, vice president and 41st president of the United States. A state funeral for Bush will be held in Washington over the next three days, beginning with him lying in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda until Wednesday morning. (Photo by Morry Gash - Pool/Getty Images)
Donald Trump and Melania Trump pay their respects to Former President George HW Bush as he lies in state in the US Capitol Rotunda on December 03, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Morry Gash - Pool/Getty Images)