Jul 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Obama, Bush and Clinton to attend John Lewis' funeral

Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama

Photo: Patrick Smith / Getty Images

Three ex-presidents plan to attend the Atlanta funeral of Rep. John Lewis on Thursday, celebrating a man who fought against bigotry as the U.S. continues to reckon with racial injustice, according to two people familiar with the planning.

Why it matters: By attending the funeral, former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton lend presidential prestige to the civil rights icon's funeral that the current occupant of the White House, Donald Trump, seems determined to withhold.

  • Trump declined to pay his respects to Lewis' coffin while it was lying in the Capitol Rotunda. "I won't be going, no," the president told reporters earlier this week.
  • Trump joined Obama, Bush and Clinton, as well as former President Jimmy Carter, for the funeral of George H.W. Bush in December 2018, separated by their spouses.
  • Carter, who is 95, and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter will not attend Thursday's funeral.
    • A spokesperson told NBC News that the Carters "are not traveling these days but are sending their condolences in writing.”

Behind the scenes: Security concerns are always an issue when former presidents gather in a single, public space.

Obama plans to give a eulogy, according to NBC News.

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