WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said 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 spend 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 U.S. 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.
Vice President Mike Pence was expected to attend the inauguration, according to one person close to him and one familiar with the inauguration planning. But Pence spokesman Devin Malley said in a statement Friday that he and the second lady “have yet to make a decision regarding their attendance.”
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.”