But late Monday, after Bush relatives and dignitaries had gone, the president was driven from the White House up to Capitol Hill.
With the first lady at his side, Trump saluted, and they stood at Bush’s casket for about a minute. They exited the rotunda with little fanfare.
Bush never warmed to Trump, and he had let it be known that he did not vote for him in 2016. Trump himself has criticized the elder Bush on the campaign trail.
But on Monday, Trump wrote members of Congress to hail Bush as a man who “led a life that exemplified what is truly great about America.”
“President Bush worked selflessly throughout his long life to bring about a world of justice and lasting peace,” he wrote.
The White House also extended an invitation to Bush’s family to stay at Blair House — the President’s guest house– while they are in Washington for events surrounding to his funeral.
Bush was a decorated World War II fighter pilot, onetime ambassador to China, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, and vice president to Ronald Reagan before winning the White House.
Military pallbearers carried the flag-draped casket into the rotunda as a fiery sunset bathed Washington in a glow.
The somber ceremony was attended by his son George W. Bush — the nation’s 43rd president — and other relatives, dignitaries and more than 100 members of the House and Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lauded Bush — who occupied the White House from 1989 to 1993 — as a patriot who steered the country as straight as he had piloted his World War II airplane.
“He kept us flying high and challenged us to fly higher still. And he did it with modesty and kindness that would have been surprising in someone one tenth as tough and accomplished as he was,” he said.
Hands on hearts
Bush was transported aboard the presidential Boeing 747 — made available at Trump’s direction — from Houston to Joint Base Andrews, in Maryland.
In Houston, relatives including his presidential son stood with hands on their hearts as the casket was carried to the aircraft.
Bush is the 12th US president to lie in state in the rotunda. Just three months earlier, the honor was accorded to senator John McCain, a former Republican presidential nominee who died of brain cancer.