The White House indicated Wednesday that President Obama would not be joining Vice President Joe Biden when Biden attends Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's funeral in Washington, D.C., on Saturday.
Spokesman Josh Earnest confirmed that Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will go to the Supreme Court Friday, when Scalia will be lying in repose. But when asked if Obama would be going to the funeral, Earnest dodged the direct question, but implied Obama would be skipping it.
"I can tell you that Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden will attend Justice Scalia's federal at the Basilica" of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in northeast Washington on Saturday, Earnest replied.
When asked again if Obama plans to join mourners at the shrine, the largest Catholic church in North America, Earnest said: "The president will pay his respects at the Supreme Court on Friday and he'll be joined with the first lady when he does that."
Earnest also wouldn't say if Obama is attending a private ceremony that the Supreme Court is holding for the longest-serving current justice on Friday.
"We'll have more details" later, Earnest said. "[B]ut it will be an opportunity for the president and the first lady to pay their respects to Justice Scalia," a visit that Earnest described as appropriate.
Earnest also dodged a question about whether Obama has golf plans for Saturday, and said he didn't "have a sense of what the president's plans are for Saturday."
But Earnest said Obama believes it is important to the "institution of the presidency to pay his respects to somebody who dedicated three decades of his life to the institution of the Supreme Court."
Beyond praising Scalia in remarks Saturday, attending Friday's event at the Supreme Court "is important, not just on a personal level, but also on an institutional level," Earnest added.
"It will be an important moment and we will have more details for you about the president's plans for both Friday and Saturday," he said.