Will Biden unveil Trump's official portrait? POTUS may not want to come back to White House for own ceremony

Trump may not be interested or welcome at the White House for a ceremony of his own portrait unveiling in the next four years, given his contentious relationship with Biden


                            Will Biden unveil Trump's official portrait? POTUS may not want to come back to White House for own ceremony
Donald Trump and Joe Biden (Getty Images)

There is a long-standing tradition of ex-presidents getting a White House portrait and a presidential library after they leave the office. Presidents usually have two portraits commissioned to be unveiled after they have left office - one hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, while the other hangs in the White House and both of them are unveiled at a certain pre-announced date by their successor. While President Donald Trump is also entitled to the dual honor, it still begs the question whether his successor -- in this case, President-elect Joe Biden -- will be willing to participate in the unveiling event since Trump has refused to publicly concede the race and made it as difficult as possible for him to have a smooth transfer of power. 

Also, given the acrimonious relationship between Trump and his predecessor, President Barack Obama, the former broke with tradition and refused to hold a ceremony to unveil the 44th leader's official White House portrait. It is yet to be seen if Biden decides to honor Obama with such a ceremony after his administration takes over since he was once Obama's running mate and still maintains a more than cordial relationship with him. Trump, on the other hand, may not be interested or welcome at the White House for a ceremony of his own portrait unveiling in the next four years, given his controversial reputation and his contentious relationship with Biden, The Hill reported.

There is also talk of Trump running for the White House again in four years, although there has been no official announcement. However, regardless of his post-presidency plans, the timeline of his portrait and his library will not be affected in any way and will solely depend on how cooperative Trump is with the process.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama stand next to their newly unveiled portraits during a ceremony at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, on February 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)

The National Archives will be tasked with keeping presidential records from Trump’s time in office until they can be displayed in a designated library. “The National Archives’ legal and physical custody of Trump Presidential records and/or the status of a Trump Presidential Library would not be affected if President Trump runs for office in 2024,” a spokesperson for the archives said in a statement. “NARA [the National Archives and Records Administration] assumes legal custody of all Presidential records at the end of the Presidential administration in accordance with the Presidential Records Act, which also governs access to these records.”

Back in November, the outlet said that the National Portrait Gallery will reach out to the president and first lady at the end of their term at the White House with a potential list of recommended artists to paint the portraits. The gallery will raise funds to commission the painting once the first couple decides on the artist they want. Once the National Portrait Gallery work has been commissioned, a separate painting will be done to hang in the White House. 

A spokesperson confirmed at the time that the museum had not started the process of artist selection and fundraising. No more updates on the matter have been provided from either the museum or the White House. The whole process would have been delayed till 2024 had Trump managed to win a second term. 

“There have been presidents where the portraits were essentially done before they left the White House and others where the process didn’t start until they left the White House,” said Stewart McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Association. The process started with former President George H.W. Bush. 

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