Biden plans to host Obama for portrait unveiling that Trump skipped: report
President Biden is reportedly planning on hosting a White House ceremony for the unveiling of former President Obama’s presidential portrait, a tradition former President Trump had declined to take part in.
Sources close to the matter told NBC News that Biden will likely hold the event for both Michelle and Barack Obama some time this fall when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
“They’re virtually done,” one source said of the portrait process for the Obamas. NBC notes that the portraits process can take up to two years, though most are unveiled less than two years after the former president leaves office.
Another source told NBC that it would be better to wait until when a large number of guests could attend the ceremony, as is typical, because “it would be a shame to do it and have only six or seven people there.”
The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.
First-term presidents have for decades unveiled a portrait of their predecessor in the White House’s East Room.
However, Trump refused to do the same, though Obama was also reportedly opposed to participating in the tradition with his immediate successor.
Despite not engaging in the tradition for his predecessor, NBC reports that Trump and former first lady Melania Trump are both taking part in having their portraits painted, having recently begun discussions with the White House Historical Association, which commissions the portraits, as well as the National Portrait Gallery, which paints a separate series of portraits.
“We are working with both the National Portrait Gallery and the White House Historical Association, and our progress is consistent with historical precedent,” an adviser to Trump told NBC.
Although Trump has continued to claim that Biden’s presidency is illegitimate, White House press secretary Jen Psaki indicated earlier this year that Biden would extend the same traditional acknowledgement to Trump.
“I have not been given any indication that we would break with tradition in that regard,” Psaki told reporters shortly after Biden’s inauguration.
Portraits of both Obamas were unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in the Smithsonian in February 2018. Barack Obama’s portrait was painted by Kehinde Wiley, and Michelle Obama’s portrait was painted by Amy Sherald.