The presidential portraits are a long-standing tradition dating back to painter Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington. The official portrait unveiling of former President Barack Obama was scheduled at the White House but has been stopped because his successor, President Donald Trump, refuses to proceed forward with the event.
Trump recently came out and accused Obama of unspecified crimes with no evidence to back up his claims. CNN reported an administration official said there have been talks to continue hanging up Obama’s portrait at a later time but no date has been officially scheduled or announced.
“Presidential portrait unveilings are one of the three events that bring former presidents together. This level of animosity between a sitting president and his predecessors is unprecedented in modern history,” Kate Andersen Brower, author of Team of Five: The Presidents Club in the Age of Trump, told CNN. In 2018, President Donald Trump
signed Public Law 115-158 to prohibit the use of federal funds to pay for an official portrait of any federal official or officer, including the president.
It is also considered a tradition for first-term presidents to host the ceremony for their predecessors, no matter their political party. Obama did so for former President George W. Bush‘s portrait in 2012 with Bush doing the same for former President Bill Clinton in 2004. Trump has been the first to break the tradition. “We may have our differences politically,” Obama said while hosting the unveiling eight years ago, according to the Grio, “but the presidency transcends those differences.”
President Trump and Obama have met twice in person - at Trump’s Inauguration Day and again at the funeral for former President George H.W. Bush in December 2018. They shook hands briefly at the start of the service and didn’t interact afterward.