Live coverage: Washington honors George HW Bush with state funeral

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President Trump and former Presidents Obama, George W. Bush, Clinton and Carter on Wednesday will join leaders from across the world to attend the state funeral for former President George H.W. Bush.

The federal government was closed for the day as Trump declared it a day of mourning. The stock market was closed as well.

Bush was greeted with an arrival ceremony on Monday and has lied in state for public viewing at the Capitol Rotunda.

{mosads}After the funeral at the National Cathedral, Bush’s remains will be transported back to Houston. He will lie in repose, with a guard of honor, from late Wednesday to early Thursday at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church. 

A funeral service will be held at the same church at 10 a.m. Thursday. Bush’s remains will then be transported by train to Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, where Bush will be buried at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

Bush’s remains depart for Texas

2:25 p.m. 

Bush’s casket was loaded onto a government 747 at Joint Base Andrews shortly after 2 p.m. as the 41st president departed Washington, D.C., for the final time.

The Bush family looked on and a military procession accompanied the casket toward a truck that loaded the former president’s remains onto the government plane, which is flying on what has been dubbed “Special Air Mission 41.”  

The aircraft took off about 2:25 p.m., and is scheduled to arrive in Houston about 4:30 p.m. local time.

Bush will lie in repose at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston from Wednesday evening until Thursday morning when a private funeral service will take place.

Bush will be buried on Thursday at his presidential library and museum at Texas A&M University, alongside his wife, Barbara, and daughter Robin.

— Brett Samuels 

Trump leaves Bush funeral as service concludes

1:37 p.m.

President Trump departed the Washington National Cathedral on Wednesday afternoon as the funeral was coming to a close. 

Reporters following the president were ushered out of the building at 1:14 p.m. during the final hymn and the president’s limousine was on the move back soon afterward to the White House, while the former President George H.W. Bush’s casket was marched out by a military honor guard. 

The Trumps arrived back at at the White House at 1:25 p.m. and, moments later, the president strode down the colonnade and entered the Oval Office.

Trump’s behavior was closely watched during the funeral services; he was shown several times on camera not singing along during prayers as the former presidents he was seated next to were. 

His interaction with former President Obama, their first since Inauguration Day in 2017, was also closely scrutinized. Trump has a tense relationship with his predecessors, including the Bush family, but was invited to the 41st president’s funeral in a show of national unity.

— Jordan Fabian  

Bush’s casket carried out of National Cathedral

1:20 p.m.

Bush’s casket was carried out of the National Cathedral about 1:15 p.m., concluding a roughly two-hour state funeral service for the former president.

A military procession escorted Bush’s coffin out of the cathedral and to a hearse waiting outside. Bush’s family followed as scores of American and international leaders looked on from the pews.

The 41st president’s remains will be flown later Wednesday to Houston, where he will lie in repose at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church.

A private funeral service will take place in Texas on Thursday, and Bush will be buried next to his wife, Barbara, and daughter Robin at his presidential library and museum at Texas A&M University.

— Brett Samuels

Reverend recounts Bush’s final moments

1:04 p.m.

The Rev. Russell Levenson Jr., the officiant at Bush’s church in Houston, recounted the former president’s final moments last week and commended the former president for his faith and service to the country.

In his homily at the National Cathedral, Levenson recalled that family members, friends, former colleagues and secret service agents had gathered with Bush at his home in Houston on Friday when the former president was in declining health.

Levenson noted that former Secretary of State James Baker was in attendance and that he’d rubbed Bush’s feet for a half hour to comfort him. 

“There had been wonderful hugs and kind words throughout the day,” Levenson said. “Toward the end, we were sitting on sofa and [Baker] whispered to me, ‘You know, that man changed my life.’ ”

Baker could be spotted in the pews of the cathedral weeping as Levenson spoke.

The reverend said that Bush’s service dog, Sully, was also there and joked that the canine “has gotten more press than the president in the last few days.”

Levenson repeatedly cited Bush’s commitment to his faith and commended the former president for his influence on the country and those he knew.

“Some have said in the last few days this is the end of an era,” Levenson said. “But it does not have to be. Perhaps it’s an invitation to fill the hole that has been left behind.”

— Brett Samuels 

George W. Bush on his father: ‘The brightest of a thousand points of light’

12:40 p.m.

Former President George W. Bush eulogized his father as a family man and devoted public servant who overcame brushes with death to live a full and accomplished life.  

“To us, his was the brightest of a thousand points of light,” Bush said, borrowing his father’s signature phrase. 

Concluding his eulogy, the 43rd president broke down as he remembered the elder Bush as “the best father a son or daughter could have.” 

Bush said he called his father last Friday when he was told he had minutes to live, and said he told him “‘Dad, I love you and you’ve been a wonderful father.'”

“And the last words he would ever say on earth were, ‘I love you, too,’ ” Bush said.

The Bushes shared the unique bond of being the only father-son duo to serve as president in modern times and the younger Bush said his father taught him how to “serve with love” for his fellow Americans. 

“To his very last days, dad’s life was instructive,” Bush said. “As he aged he taught us how to grow with dignity, humor and kindness.” 

Bush’s eulogy was also full of light-hearted moments, including a retelling of how his father’s close confidant, James Baker, sneaked steak and vodka into the hospital for him and the time the 41st president jumped out of an airplane on his 90th birthday.  

He joked that his father was “perfect but not totally perfect, his short game was lousy,” said he “wasn’t exactly Fred Astaire on the dance floor” and noted his famous dislike of broccoli. 

“The man couldn’t stomach vegetables, especially broccoli. And by the way, he passed along these genetic defects to us,” Bush said to laughs from the crowd of hundreds of leaders and dignitaries at the Washington National Cathedral.

— Jordan Fabian 

Former senator, friend points out Bush’s one ‘serious flaw’

12:20 p.m.

Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) delivered a eulogy for his good friend George H.W. Bush, noting that the former president had one “serious flaw:” He could never remember a punchline.

“He had a very serious flaw known by all close to him,” the Wyoming Republican said at the state funeral service for Bush at Washington National Cathedral.

“He loved a good joke, the richer the better,” Simpson, 87, continued. “And he’d throw his head back and give that great laugh. But he could never, ever remember a punchline. And I mean never,” Simpson said to laughs from the mourners gathered to honor the president.

“So the punchline for George Herbert Walker Bush is this: you would’ve wanted him on your side,” said Simpson.

“He never lost his sense of humor. Humor is the universal solvent against the abrasive elements of life,” the former lawmaker said. Bush, said Simpson, “never hated anyone. He knew what his mother and my mother always knew: hatred corrodes the container it’s carried in.”

Simpson — who called Bush the “most decent and honorable person” he ever met — brought his own wisecracks to the funeral service, drawing several chuckles from the crowd, including for one line: “Those who travel the high road of humility in Washington, D.C., are not bothered by heavy traffic.”

— Judy Kurtz 

Former Canadian prime minister praises Bush’s leadership 

12:04 p.m.

Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney praised Bush for his accomplishments in foreign and domestic policy. 

“I believe it will be said that no occupant of the Oval Office was more courageous, more principled and more honorable than George Herbert Walker Bush,” Mulroney said in a eulogy delivered at the National Cathedral.

Mulroney, whose time as prime minister overlapped with Bush’s time as vice president and president, credited Bush’s handling of the end of the Cold War and the first Gulf War with maintaining global order.  

He went on to highlight the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Clean Air Act as evidence of Bush’s accomplishments domestically.

“There’s a word for this,” Mulroney said. “It’s called leadership. And let me tell you that when George Bush was president of the United States of America, every single head of government in the world knew that they were dealing with a gentleman, a genuine leader. One who was distinguished, resolute and brave.” 

— Brett Samuels

Presidential historian pays tribute to Bush 

11:49 a.m.

Presidential historian Jon Meacham delivered the first of four eulogies for former President George H.W. Bush, describing him as an “imperfect man” who “left us a more perfect union.”

Meacham recounted Bush’s service in World War II, during which his plane was shot down over the sea. He was later rescued, and Meacham said Bush frequently asked why he was spared.

Bush “made lives freer, better, warmer and nobler,” Meacham said. “That was his mission. That was his heartbeat. 

“And if we listen closely enough, we can hear that heartbeat even now, for it’s the heartbeat of a lion,” Meacham continued. “A lion who not only led us, but who loved us. That’s why him. That’s why he was spared.”

Meacham, who also delivered a tribute to former first lady Barbara Bush at her funeral earlier this year, highlighted the relationship between the former first couple, as well as their relationship with their children, who looked on from the front row.

The real Bush, Meacham said, was “a loving man with a big, vibrant, all-enveloping heart.”

— Brett Samuels 

George W. Bush, Michelle Obama share another moment at funeral

11:35 a.m.

Former President George W. Bush appeared to slip something from his pocket to Michelle Obama at the funeral service for his father — an apparent nod to a memorable moment the pair shared at the funeral for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Bush appeared to fetch something from his suit pocket as he walked into the Washington National Cathedral for the service.

After shaking hands with President Trump, Melania Trump, and former President Obama, Bush slipped something into Michelle Obama’s hand. The former first lady smiled.

The moment was reminiscent of a light-hearted interaction between the two at McCain’s funeral in September when cameras caught Bush passing a cough drop to Obama.

“I didn’t realize at the time that anybody noticed what we were doing,” Obama later said of the exchange during an interview on NBC’s “Today.”

“President Bush and I … we are forever seatmates because of protocol, that’s how we sit at all the official functions so he is my partner in crime at every major thing where all the formers gather,” Obama said.

Calling the 43rd president a “wonderful” and “funny man,” Obama said in October what he slipped to her were “old cough drops.”

— Judy Kurtz

Bush’s casket arrives at National Cathedral 

11:13 a.m.

The body of former President George H.W. Bush arrived at the National Cathedral shortly after 11 a.m. for his state funeral. 

Bush’s casket was carried into the cathedral by a military procession and was followed by his family. Thousands of current and former politicians and world leaders had taken their seats inside for the services. 


Former President George W. Bush, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and presidential biographer Jon Meacham are scheduled to deliver eulogies for the 41st president.

Wednesday marks the first state funeral since 2006, when former President Gerald Ford died.

— Brett Samuels 

Trump joins ‘Presidents’ Club’ for the first time, shakes hand with Obamas

11 a.m.

President Trump met with his predecessors for the first time since taking office at the state funeral. 

Trump and first lady Melania Trump entered the Washington National Cathedral walking down the center aisle and to their seats in the front row next to former President Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama. Both Trumps shook hands with each of the Obamas. 

The handshake was believed to be the first interaction between Trump and Obama since Inauguration Day on January 20, 2017.

Melania Trump shook hands with former President Bill Clinton and appeared to wave to former first lady Hillary Clinton, who were seated next to the Obamas, before sitting down. But President Trump and the Clintons did not appear to acknowledge each other, yet another sign the wounds have not healed from Trump and Hillary Clinton’s bitter presidential race in 2016. 

The Trumps also did not greet former President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter, who were sitting further down the aisle. 

All of the leaders and their wives then sat expressionless, making for a somewhat awkward moment between the former presidents ahead of the Bush funeral. 

Trump has had an acrimonious relationship with his predecessors, whom he has often criticized in the two years since taking office.  

But, despite the acrimony, the moment was remarkable in that it brought together five current or former presidents.  

The Bush family, who has also come under fire from Trump, invited the president to the funeral in a show of national unity. President George W. Bush, who has spoken with Trump since he became president, will eulogize his father service.

After entering the cathedral minutes later, Bush shook hands with all four of the other presidents and their spouses before taking his seat across the aisle next to former first lady Laura Bush. 

— Jordan Fabian

Service brings political opponents together

10:50 a.m.

The funeral service has brought a number of political opponents together.

Shortly ahead of the beginning of service, Chelsea Clinton was seen in conversation with Vice President Mike Pence. 

Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner, both senior White House advisers, were also seen having what appeared to be a friendly chat with Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.).

– Judy Kurtz 

President Trump, first lady head to National Cathedral

10:25 a.m.

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump are on the way to Washington National Cathedral to attend the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush. 

The presidential motorcade rolled out from the South Lawn of the White House around 10:25 a.m. en route to the cathedral in Upper Northwest Washington.

The motorcade pulled to a stop at the National Cathedral 10 minutes later, after a ride that took the Trumps past onlookers that included a group of photo-seeking diplomats at the British Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue. 

Meanwhile, at the Capitol, Bush’s casket was loaded into a black hearse bearing a presidential seal in an elaborate military recessional ceremony.

Trump has famously feuded with the Bush family, but he has publicly shown graciousness in the period following the 41st president’s death. The first family on Tuesday visited with the Bushes at the Blair House, the government guest house across the street from the White House. 

— Jordan Fabian

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Staffers come out for departure ceremony

10:10 a.m.

Hundreds of Capitol Hill staffers have come out to the “Senate Swamp” for the departure ceremony.

The motorcade will travel along Constitution, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts avenues to Washington National Cathedral for the funeral service.

— Scott Wong

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More than 3,000 expected at National Cathedral

9:50 a.m.

A simple program honoring George H.W. Bush awaits mourners at his funeral service in Washington. 


The printed program for guests features a golden presidential seal along with Bush’s full name.

The Washington National Cathedral reportedly expects more than 3,200 of its seats to be filled for the invitation-only service.

The main eulogy for the 41st commander in chief will be delivered by his eldest son, former President George W. Bush.

— Judy Kurtz 

Trump calls day a ‘celebration for a great man’

9:12 a.m.

President Trump tweeted ahead of Wednesday’s services that the day’s event is “not a funeral,” but a “celebration for a great man who has led a long and distinguished life.”

“He will be missed!” Trump tweeted. 


The president visited George H.W. Bush’s casket at the Capitol on Monday night, and on Tuesday evening met with former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump will attend Wednesday’s services at the National Cathedral. The president has avoided controversy surrounding the 41st president’s death, despite his past criticism of the Bush family.

— Brett Samuels

Bush granddaughters on their grandfather: ‘He was our hero’

9 a.m.

Former President George H.W. Bush’s twin granddaughters, Barbara and Jenna, on Wednesday spoke publicly for the first time since their grandfather’s death on Wednesday morning.

Jenna on NBC’s “Today” recalled that she felt “confused” when she saw the elder Bush described as a “wimp” on a magazine cover when she was a young girl.

“He was the antithesis of a wimp,” Jenna said, sitting beside Barbara. “He was humble, but why did that have to equate to being a wimp? And it didn’t to us. He was our hero.”

“We just think about how he made us feel, and that was loved, really loved, and how he made our family feel like we were one,” she said.

— Emily Birnbaum

Tags Bill Clinton Bush ceremonies Dick Durbin Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Ivanka Trump Jared Kushner John McCain Melania Trump Michelle Obama Mike Pence National Cathedral State funeral Trump tweets
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