President Donald Trump says he won’t attend President-elect Joe Biden’s Inauguration on Jan. 20. He will be the first incumbent president since Andrew Johnson to skip his successor’s inauguration.
“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th,” the US leader said on Twitter.
The statement, while not a surprise from the most divisive president in decades, drew a line through any idea that Trump might seek to spend his remaining moments in the White House helping his Democratic successor calm tensions.
Trump is set to join a short list of outgoing presidents who skipped the inaugurations of their successors: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Johnson. He’s the first departing president since 1869 to refuse to attend his successor’s inauguration.
Later on, Friday, Biden said he agreed with Trump’s decision to skip his inauguration, but added that Vice President Mike Pence was still welcome to come.
“One of the few things he and I ever agreed on,” Biden said of Trump announcing he would not be present on January 20. “It’s a good thing – him not showing up,” he added.
Two days after Trump incited followers to storm Congress, his presidency is in freefall, with allies walking away and opponents calling for his removal.
“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” Trump said in a statement.
Democrats in the House of Representatives, who already impeached Trump in a traumatic, partisan vote in 2019, said an unprecedented second impeachment of the Republican could be ready for a vote next week.
“A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20,” Trump said. “My focus now turns to ensure a smooth, orderly, and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.” Trump in the video decried the “heinous attack” on the Capitol by his supporters.
Few aides had any sense of the president’s plans, with some wondering if Trump would largely remain out of sight until he left the White House. But the president has asked aides to explore a possible valedictory trip next week to the southern border as a means to highlight his immigration policies.
“The safety and security of all those participating in the 59th Presidential Inauguration are of the utmost importance,” the Secret Service said in a statement Thursday. “For well over a year, the U.S. Secret Service, along with our [National Special Security Event] partners, has been working tirelessly to anticipate and prepare for all possible contingencies at every level to ensure a safe and secure Inauguration Day.”
Three former presidents – Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush – are planning to attend Biden’s inauguration. Former President Jimmy Carter, 96, America’s oldest living president, announced earlier this week that he would not be attending the ceremony.