US President Donald Trump said on Friday he would not attend the inauguration of his successor, Democratic President-elect Joe Biden, on January 20, hours after promising a peaceful transition of power.
There have been discussions at the White House about Trump leaving Washington on January 19, a source familiar with the matter said. He is expected to travel to his Florida resort, the source said.
“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Trump will be the first incumbent president since Andrew Johnson to skip his successor’s swearing-in. Traditionally, the incoming and outgoing presidents ride to the US Capitol together for the ceremony, as a symbol of the nation’s peaceful transition.
Trump’s comments come two days after a violent mob of his supporters occupied the Capitol for several hours as lawmakers were tallying the electoral votes that certified Biden’s victory. Biden will become president at noon on January 20 regardless of Trump’s plans.
The decision to shun Biden’s inauguration had been widely expected, as Trump for months falsely claimed victory in the election and promulgated baseless claims of voter fraud.
Vice President Mike Pence was expected to attend the inauguration. Pence spokesman Devin Malley said “Vice President Pence and the Second Lady have yet to make a decision regarding their attendance.”
Biden’s transition team had no immediate comment on Trump’s announcement. But Jen Psaki, the president-elect’s incoming White House press secretary, said last month that whether Trump attended the inauguration was not top of mind for Biden.
On Thursday, with 12 days left in his term, Trump finally bent to reality amid growing talk of trying to force him out early, acknowledging he’ll peacefully leave after Congress affirmed his defeat.
Trump led off a video from the White House Thursday by condemning the violence carried out in his name a day earlier at the Capitol. Then, for the first time on camera, he admitted his presidency would soon end — though he declined to mention Biden by name or explicitly state he had lost.
“A new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20,” Trump said in the video. “My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”
Source: France 24