The unveiling of presidents’ official White House portraits by their successor has been a long-held tradition—until now. Barack Obama is refusing to participate in the ceremony for the unveiling of his portrait, NBC News has learned.
“Republican presidents have done it for Democratic presidents, and vice versa,” noted NBC News. “Even when one of them ascended to the White House by defeating or sharply criticizing the other.”
True enough—Barack Obama hosted the ceremony of the unveiling of George W. Bush’s official White House portrait, despite Obama ascending to the office by being a harsh critic of the 43rd president. George W. Bush similarly hosted the ceremony of Clinton’s portrait unveiling. Bush had been a critic of Clinton’s during the 2000 campaign, promising to restore honor and dignity to the office, sullied by Clinton’s sex scandal with Monica Lewinsky. Bill Clinton hosted the ceremony for George H.W. Bush, whom he’d defeated in the 1992 election.
Obama has also broken the custom of refusing to criticize his successor publicly. His pride, however, is too big for him to participate in the ceremony during Trump’s tenure in the White House—a continuation of the rank partisanship espoused by Obama during his presidency.
Barack Obama has “no interest in participating in the post-presidency rite of passage” as Trump is in office, according to people familiar with the matter.
Obama’s involvement in the spying on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has recently come under intense scrutiny after it was revealed that he was personally aware of wiretaps of General Mike Flynn’s phone conversations. The Obama administration also initiated an investigation of alleged Trump-Russia collusion despite not having any empirical evidence that any collusion existed.
President Trump has been harshly critical of Obama, most recently calling for him to testify about his involvement is Spygate. On Monday, Trump called Obama “one of the worst Presidents in the history of our country,” an assessment that fact-checks as true.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis