Former US President George H. W. Bush to lie in state at US Capitol; Trump will attend funeral

File photo of former US President George H. W. Bush saluting as he departs the East Front of the US Capitol Building, in January 2009.
File photo of former US President George H. W. Bush saluting as he departs the East Front of the US Capitol Building, in January 2009. PHOTO: REUTERS
Mr George H. W. Bush, the longest-living president in US history, died at his home in Houston late last Friday night, aged 94.
Mr George H. W. Bush, the longest-living president in US history, died at his home in Houston late last Friday night, aged 94.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - President Donald Trump and wife Melania will attend the funeral of George H. W. Bush at the Washington National Cathedral, the White House said, after the late president lies in state in the US Capitol.

"The President will designate Wednesday, December 5th as a National Day Of Mourning. He and the First Lady will attend the funeral at the National Cathedral," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Mr Trump and the Bush family have had a thorny relationship, including Mr Trump's treatment of former Florida governor Jeb Bush - once seen as a natural front runner for the Republican nomination - during the 2016 primaries. Mr Trump repeatedly dismissed his competitor as "low energy", and Mr Bush was one of the first to drop out of the primary race.

The elder Mr Bush, the longest-living president in US history, died at his home in Houston late last Friday (Nov 30) night, aged 94. In his one term in the White House, he fashioned a restrained response to the Soviet Union's collapse and assembled the multinational coalition that liberated Kuwait from an Iraqi invasion.

State funerals are multi-day events consisting of three stages, starting with ceremonies within the state in which the honoree resided, continuing in the nation's capital, and ending where the individual has chosen to be interred. An official schedule was released on Saturday (Dec 1).

Mr Bush's body will be transported on Monday (Dec 3) from Ellington Field in Houston to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Air Force One. There will be a bicameral arrival ceremony at the US Capitol at 5pm on Monday, and he will lie in state in the Capital Rotunda, with the public invited to pay respects from Monday evening until Wednesday morning.

Mr Bush's funeral at the National Cathedral is scheduled for 11am on Wednesday, and afterwards his body will make the return trip from Andrews back to Houston. The former president will lie in repose at St Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, where a second service will be held on Thursday. He will be interred later on Thursday at the George Bush Presidential Library & Museum on the grounds of Texas A&M University in College Station, after making the final leg, from Spring, Texas, by train.

"This state funeral is a culmination of years of planning and rehearsal to ensure the support the military renders President Bush is nothing less than a first-class tribute," said Major-General Michael L. Howard, Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region commanding general.

By tradition, US financial markets close on the national day of mourning. The New York Stock Exchange will observe a minute of silence on Monday to honour Mr Bush, and plans to be closed on the official day of mourning designated by Mr Trump, said Ms Kristen Kaus, a spokesman for the exchange. Other markets are expected to follow suit.

 
 
 

Mr Trump did not attend the funeral in April of Mr Bush's wife, former first lady Barbara Bush. At the time, the White House said the decision was "to avoid disruptions due to added security, and out of respect for the Bush Family and friends attending the service". Sitting presidents often don't go to services for former first ladies; Mrs Melania Trump represented her husband.

In a 2016 interview, the elder Bush said of Mr Trump: "I don't know much about him, but I know he's a blowhard. And I'm not too excited about him being a leader."

In 2017's The Last Republicans, author Mark Updegrove wrote that Mr Bush, a quintessential Republican, had voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. Mrs Barbara Bush told CBS in an interview in 2016 that "I don't know how women can vote" for Mr Trump, based on his comments about women.

Mr Trump cancelled a press conference at the Group of 20 meeting in Buenos Aires "out of respect for" the Bush family and the former president.

"I met him on numerous occasions," Mr Trump told reporters. "He was a terrific guy and he'll be missed and he led a full life and an exemplary life."