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President Trump and first lady Melania Trump made a surprise visit to the Capitol Rotunda on Monday to pay respects to former President George H.W. Bush, who is lying in state there until Wednesday.
The unannounced visit was somber, with neither Trump nor his wife saying anything. Instead, they stood near the flag-draped coffin, with Trump saluting the 41st president while Melania held her hand on her heart.
“Departure from the White House and travel to the Capitol were off the record at the request of the White House, which cited security concerns,” a reporter who traveled with the pair wrote in a pool report.
The president and first lady boarded a motorcade a little after 8 p.m. for the six-minute ride down Pennsylvania Avenue to the capitol. While the Rotunda had been opened to visitors shortly before the couple arrived, the area was closed off while they were there.
The First Couple was not accompanied by congressional leaders. Instead, the Senate Sergeant at Arms and House Sergeant Arms brought them into the room. The room filled with the click of cameras from the photographers who were there to cover the event. They stayed two minutes, and the Rotunda was re-opened shortly after their departure.
Bush died Friday at age 94. Trump sent the presidential plane to Houston to bring his body to Washington, D.C. The president and first lady will attend his memorial service at Washington National Cathedral on Wednesday, but the president will not deliver a eulogy.
The Trumps visited shortly after Vice President Mike Pence delivered a moving speech about Bush and Pence’s son Mike, who is a Marine aviator, that occurred only months before Bush passed away.
Trump also said he will visit the Bush family on Tuesday at the Blair House, near the White House.