It looks like former President Bill Clinton and former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not be attending Billy Graham’s funeral on Friday, March 2, as of the time of publication. Every living President has received an invitation, but according to the program for today’s funeral, it appears that President Donald Trump is the only one who will be attending. Many former U.S. Presidents have needed to turn down the invitation for various reasons. Why aren’t the Clintons attending?
If Bill Clinton does not attend, it is because he already paid respects to Billy Graham when he was lying in repose at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte earlier this week. WTSP 10 News reported that Trump will be the only living president to attend the funeral.
Bill Clinton paid tribute to Graham in Charlotte on Tuesday, without Hillary. He was met at Billy Graham’s boyhood home, now the location of the Billy Graham Library, by Franklin Graham. The two stayed in the house for about half an hour, and then Bill Clinton spoke to reporters outside the home.
Bill Clinton considers Graham to be a personal friend. He called Graham “one of the most important religious leaders in American history.” In a statement, he said: “I will never forget the first time I saw him, 60 years ago in Little Rock, during the school integration struggle. He filled a football stadium with a fully integrated audience, reminding them that we all come before God as equals, both in our imperfection and our absolute claim to amazing grace… Billy has finished his long good race, leaving our world a better place and claiming his place in glory.”
It’s not clear why Hillary Clinton did not accompany her husband, or — as of the time of publication — is not expected to attend the funeral. Per WSPA, the official program for Graham’s funeral today includes an official seating of President Donald and Melania Trump, and Vice President and Mrs. Pence, but there are no former presidents or their wives listed in the program.
Bill and Hillary Clinton did release a joint statement when Billy Graham died. It reads, in part: “Hillary and I are saddened by the passing of our friend Billy Graham, one of the most important religious leaders in American history. His powerful words and the conviction they carried touched countless hearts and minds.”
Hillary Clinton did have a close relationship with Graham. They had known Graham since 1985. In 2007, Hillary revealed that Graham counseled her and helped her forgive Bill after he had an affair with Monica Lewinsky.
Former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton all honored Graham in 2007 when his library was dedicated.