- President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama on Wednesday had a chilly but civil reunion at the funeral for former President George H.W. Bush.
- The current and former presidents shook hands but did not interact much beyond that.
- This meeting appeared to mark the first time Obama and Trump have spoken since Inauguration Day in January 2017.
President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama on Wednesday had a chilly but civil reunion at the funeral for former President George H.W. Bush.
The current and former presidents shook hands and were seated near each other, separated only by first lady Melania Trump.
This appeared to mark the first time Obama and Trump have spoken since Inauguration Day in January 2017.
The two men have been adversaries for years.
Trump was extremely critical of Obama when he was still in the White House and infamously perpetuated a conspiracy theory many decried as racist about the former president’s place of birth.
In Obama’s first postpresidency year, he was relatively quiet and largely stayed away from politics. But he’s been far more vocal in 2018, particularly in the months that led up to the November midterms.
The former president in various speeches has often criticised Trump without explicitly stating his name. In September, however, Obama took his most direct swipe at his successor yet.
Speaking on the divisiveness plaguing American politics at present, the former president said Trump was a “symptom, not the cause.”
“It did not start with Donald Trump,” Obama said at the time. “He is a symptom, not the cause. He’s just capitalising on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years.”
Trump routinely criticises Obama and attempts to contrast his presidency to that of his predecessor, especially on Twitter.
In the modern era, current presidents have often developed friendships with their closest predecessors in spite of political differences, but Obama and Trump have been the exception to this rule.
Other former presidents at the funeral on Wednesday, including George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, have also been critical of Trump. But the late commander-in-chief reportedly wanted Trump at his funeral to send a message of unity in a chaotic, divisive era. In this context, the current and former presidents appeared to be on their best behaviour at the service.
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