Barack Obama greets President-elect Donald Trump at his swearing-in ceremony in Washington. File / Reuters
President Donald Trump said on Friday he won’t attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan.20, undercutting his message a day earlier that he would work to ensure a "smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power” to his successor.
Trump offered no clues for how he would spent his final hours in office, and 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 Jan.20 regardless of Trump’s plans.
"To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th,” Trump tweeted. The move had been widely expected, as Trump for months falsely claimed victory in the election and promulgated baseless claims of voter fraud. His own administration said the election had been fairly run.
Barack and Michelle Obama greet Donald Trump and his wife Melania in Washington. File / Reuters
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.”
Conway, Trump’s campaign manager during the stretch run of the 2016 race, was the first woman to successfully steer a White House bid, then became a senior counselor to the president. She informed Trump of her decision in the Oval Office.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is trying to reassure voters. Like former President Obama, he is promising that “If you like your health plan, your employer-based plan, you can keep it.” Don’t bet on it. Some presidential candidates support directly outlawing private health plans, and replacing them with a single-payer, government-run health plan.
Barring unforeseen disaster, Joe Biden will represent the Democratic Party against President Donald Trump this fall, the former vice president's place on the general election ballot cemented by Bernie Sanders' decision to end his campaign.
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