President Donald Trump may hold a memorial service for his late younger brother Robert at the White House this week, he said Monday.
“We’re looking at Friday, and we may do just a small service right here in the White House for my brother,” Trump told reporters before departing for events in a pair of election swing states.
Robert Trump, the youngest of the president’s four siblings, died Saturday at the age of 71. Though the White House did not disclose a cause of death, The New York Times reported he had experienced brain bleeds after a recent fall.
The president visited his brother at a New York City hospital on Friday, telling reporters before his departure that “he’s having a tough time.” The Times reported that Trump phoned in to the hospital from his New Jersey golf club not long before Robert’s death.
Trump opened up about the loss of his brother in an interview on “Fox & Friends” earlier Monday, calling Robert’s death “very hard.”
“It was not a great weekend,” Trump said, adding that his brother’s death was not a surprise “but still, when it happens, it’s a very tough thing. He was a great guy. He was a tremendous guy. He was my friend. I guess they say best friend, and that’s true, and, you know, losing him, not easy.”
The president portrayed his brother, who mostly stayed out of the spotlight but made headlines earlier this summer when he filed a lawsuit seeking to block the release of a tell-all book about the family written by Trump’s niece, as a lifelong supporter of his.
“If I had the number one show, or if I had a big success, and no matter what I did — whether it was real estate deals or anything else — he was right there and in many cases helped with whatever I did. And then when I became president he was one of the most loyal people, there was no jealousy,” Trump said.
He told reporters later that a memorial service at the White House “would be a great honor” to Robert.
“I think he’d be greatly honored. He loves our country. He loved our country so much. He was so proud of what we were doing and what we are doing for our country,” he said.
While some past presidents have laid in repose at the White House, it is rare to hold funeral services there. The president made no mention of the coronavirus pandemic playing a role in the decision to possibly hold a small memorial service at the White House, but such crowded gatherings have become another event significantly impacted by the outbreak.
Though Trump has come under fire for making use of the White House grounds for political purposes in recent months, the use of the executive mansion for intimate personal events dates back to its earliest days.
According to the White House Historical Association, there have been at least 18 weddings held at the White House, with the earliest documented nuptials featuring the sister of first lady Dolley Madison in 1812. Most recently, Obama-era White House photographer turned prominent Trump critic Pete Souza got married in the Rose Garden in 2013.
The White House has played host to a number of other personal celebrations, including birthday parties, lavish dinners and even a high school prom.