President Donald Trump hosted a funeral at the White House later Friday for his younger brother, Robert Trump, who died on Aug. 16 at age 71. It was the first funeral at the White House since President John F. Kennedy's funeral services were held in the East Room in 1963. The Trump Administration confirmed the president privately paid the costs of the funeral.
Robert Trump died after a long illness. On Monday, Trump hinted at plans to hold the funeral at the White House. "That would be, I think, a great honor to him," Trump told reporters. "He loved our country so much. He was so proud of what we were doing and what we are doing for our country." Trump called his brother a "fantastic guy" and "best friend" during an interview with Fox News that morning.
On Thursday, sources told ABC News the younger Trump's body would be driven from New York to the White House. About 200 people were invited to attend the private ceremony, including First Lady Melania Trump. Trump and the first lady were seen with the casket as it was taken from the White House and loaded into a hearse, reports CNN. They did not speak with reporters.
Funerals at the White House are rare events, and even rarer for people who did not serve as president. In 1890, President Benjamin Harrison hosted funeral services for the wife and daughter of Navy Secretary Benjamin Tracy after they were killed in a fire. President Franklin D. Roosevelt held a state funeral at the White House for his longtime adviser Louis Howe in 1936. President Abraham Lincoln also held the funeral for his 11-year-old son Willie at the White House, three years before his own funeral in 1865.
The details of Robert Trump's death have remained private, although he was reportedly ill for some time. He was admitted to New York-Presbyterian Hospital in June and the president visited him the day before he died. Robert Trump was a Boston University graduate and worked in finance before he served as an executive in the Trump Organization. He did not have any children but helped raise the son of his first wife, Blaine Trump. He is survived by his second wife, Anne Marie Pallan, President Trump and sisters Maryanne Trump Barry and Elizabeth Trump Grau.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is running against Trump as the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination, was among those to offer their condolences to the president. "Mr. President, Jill and I are sad to learn of your younger brother Robert's passing," Biden tweeted. "I know the tremendous pain of losing a loved one — and I know how important family is in moments like these. I hope you know that our prayers are with you all."