The commander in chief, 71, won’t be attending the Bush matriarch’s funeral and will send his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, instead “to avoid disruptions due to added security, and out of respect for the Bush family and friends attending the service,” in a statement released by the White House and obtained by the Associated Press on Thursday.
Melania’s communications director, Stephanie Grisham, confirmed to PEOPLE recently that the first lady “will be attending the funeral to pay her respects.”
The move is not unprecedented. In 2016, former first lady Michelle Obama attended Nancy Reagan’s funeral without Barack Obama, who was scheduled to appear at South by Southwest, The Hill reported.
Trump’s relationship with the Bush dynasty has been contentious since the 2016 Republican primary race for president when the business mogul ran against Jeb Bush.
The late Bush matriarch also made her distaste and dismay for Trump’s treatment of women known in an interview.
“I mean, unbelievable. I don’t know how women can vote for someone who said what he said about Megyn Kelly,” the former first lady told CBS News in 2016. “Terrible. And we knew what he meant too. Don’t you get in his firing line.”
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“And money doesn’t buy everything,” she added. “It’s accomplishments, it’s what you’re doing and giving. It’s incomprehensible to me.”
In October, her son, former president George W. Bush criticized the current administration without ever mentioning Trump by name, allegedly saying his inauguration “was some weird s—,” according to New York Magazine.
“Our young people need positive role models,” Bush said at the time. “Bullying and prejudice in our public life set a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry and compromises the moral education of children.”
On Tuesday, Barbara, the wife of former President George H. W. Bush, died at age 92.
“She is survived by her husband of 73 years, President George H. W. Bush; five children and their spouses, 17 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren; and her brother Scott Pierce. She was preceded in death by her second child, Pauline ‘Robin’ Bush, and her siblings Martha Rafferty and James R. Pierce,” per a statement from the Office of George H. W. Bush.
Her son George W. Bush also confirmed her passing, paying tribute to the strong woman who raised him.
“My dear mother has passed on at age 92,” he said in a statement. “Laura, Barbara, Jenna, and I are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was.”
“Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions. To us, she was so much more. Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end. I’m a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother. Our family will miss her dearly, and we thank you all for your prayers and good wishes.”