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Air Force One flies George HW Bush back to Washington

Trump orders flags to be flown at half-staff and proclaims Wednesday a day of national mourning

the White House said Donald and Melania Trump will attend. Bush will be buried on Thursday in the grounds of his presidential library, at Texas A&M University in College Station. He will lie in a family plot next to his wife, Barbara, who died in April, and daughter Robin, who died in 1953 at the age of three.

Trump returned to Washington early on Sunday, from the G20 summit in Buenos Aires. There, he cancelled a press conference “out of respect for President Bush” and ignored a reporter who asked if he regretted any of his comments about Bush or his family.

There is little love lost between the leading Republican families: in a book published last year, George HW Bush called Trump “a blowhard … driven by a certain ego”. Donald Trump was not invited to the funeral of Barbara Bush, which Melania Trump attended.

Trump said he had spoken to Bush’s sons, former president George W Bush and former Florida governor Jeb Bush, both frequent targets of his ire.

“And I expressed deepest sympathies,” he said, adding: “He was a very fine man. I met him on numerous occasions. He was just a high-quality man who truly loved his family. One thing that came through loud and clear, he was very proud of his family and very much loved his family. So he was a terrific guy and he’ll be missed. And he led a full life, and a very exemplary life too, I will say.”

Amidst tributes to Bush, leaders of both parties in Washington praised him in public statements. The Republican House Speaker, Paul Ryan, lauded his “decency and integrity”. The Democratic leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, said it had been a “privilege to work with him”.

On Sunday, former secretary of state James Baker, a close friend who was with Bush in his last hours, told CNN’s State of the Union he hoped “civility in politics” had not died with the former president on Friday.

After the death of a president, a temporary calm descends on Washington. Though a government shutdown has been looming over Trump’s demands for funding for his border wall, the House of Representatives will meet on Monday only to “consider resolutions pertaining to the lying in state”. It will not hold votes and will not be in session on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One as he left Argentina, Trump said he would “consider and probably get” a two-week government funding extension, to allow for ceremonies for Bush.



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