Trump refuses to unveil Barack and Michelle Obama’s White House portraits breaking tradition held since ‘70s
Barack and Michelle Obama's official portraits depicting them as president and first lady will not be unveiled and hung in the White House as long as Donald Trump is in office, according to a report Tuesday morning.
White House insiders told NBC News that due to the ongoing feud between Trump and Obama, the long-held tradition of current presidents attending the unveiling ceremony of their predecessors' portrays and their wives during their first term will be skipped for the first time during this presidency.
In fact, Obama may have to wait until 2025 to have his portrait revealed and displayed in the White House alongside every U.S. president before him if Trump wins a second term in November.
That said, Obama also has no interest in participating in the post-presidential tradition as long as his successor is in office, people familiar with the matter told the outlet. Trump, unsurprisingly, has no qualms about snubbing the longstanding presidential custom.
The tradition of previous presidents returning to the White House to unveil their portraits and meet with their successor goes back all the way to the 1970s. These events have often recorded moments of mutual praise and bipartisanship even among those who have criticized one another harshly or won the office from the other following bitter races.
Jimmy Carter invited Gerald Ford and his wife Betty back to the White House for the first formal East Room ceremony in 1980 -- just four years after defeating him in his re-election bid.
Bill Clinton also hosted George H. W. Bush in the East Room after the latter lost re-election in 1993. Obama himself hosted his predecessor George W. Bush for his portrait unveiling in 2012.
"We may have our differences politically, but the presidency transcends those differences," he said at the time. Having said that, the break from tradition comes amid the ongoing feud between Trump and Obama, who have publicly hurled attacks on each other.
Trump recently alleged that Obama and former Vice President and Democratic presumptive nominee Joe Biden were complicit in a crime connected to the investigation and prosecution of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
Dubbing the alleged scandal as "ObamaGate", Trump has claimed the crime was worse than the Nixon-era Watergate episode.
Obama also unleashed thinly veiled jibes at the president during a recently televised commencement address for the high school class of 2020 last week, calling him a "little kid" whose actions are "why things are so screwed up."
And during a call earlier this month, the former president slammed Trump for his administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Obama and Michelle already have their portraits hung in the National Portrait Gallery, which were revealed in February 2018. However, the official White House portraits are part of a different tradition altogether.
According to the Daily Mail, the process for White House portraits take a couple of years to complete.
The first couple decides on an artist, before the White House Historical Association -- a privately funded organization -- negotiates a contract with the artist.
According to people familiar with the situation, the Obamas finalized on an artist and a contract for the same was formalized in early 2017. However, there has been no progress since.