President Donald Trump will not join a host of high ranking US officials including former presidents in attending funeral services for Barbara Bush, saying he wants to "avoid disruptions" due to increased security presence and "out of respect for the Bush Family and friends."
"First Lady Melania Trump will attend the memorial service for Barbara Bush this Saturday on behalf of the First Family. To avoid disruptions due to added security, and out of respect for the Bush Family and friends attending the service, President Trump will not attend," the White House said in a Saturday statement.
Some 1,500 guests, among them first lady Melania Trump, former US president Bill Clinton, former secretary of state and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle are expected to attend St Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston on Saturday for the private funeral of Barbara Bush.
Four first ladies are expected Saturday to honor Bush. Melania Trump, Michelle Obama, daughter-in-law Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton. Rosalynn Carter, 90, is recovering from surgery and unable to attend.
Second woman to see both husband and son president
Former US first lady Barbara Bush was the second woman in US history to see her husband and son both sworn in as president. The former first lady was also the mother of Jeb Bush, who served as governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007 and unsuccessfully ran for the White House in 2016.
Only one other woman has been married to one president and the mother of another. That was Abigail Adams, wife of the second president, John Adams, and mother of the sixth, John Quincy Adams.
The Bush family had announced earlier in the week that the former US first lady was in failing health and had decided not to seek further medical treatment, focusing instead on "comfort care."
She had been battling chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart problems in recent years, according to some media reports.
The US first lady, from 1989 to 1993, was a fierce advocate of civil rights and went against many of her husband's Republican Party supporters with her liberal views.
In a statement from the White House, US President Donald Trump said, "She will be long remembered for her strong devotion to country and family, both of which she served unfailingly well."