In break with tradition, Trump says he will not attend Biden's inauguration

Mr Trump will instead be heading to his resort in Florida.
Mr Trump will instead be heading to his resort in Florida.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES, AFP) - President Donald Trump, who begrudgingly recognised his defeat less than two weeks before he was due to leave office, announced Friday (Jan 8) on Twitter that he would not be attending President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan 20.

His statement, while a surprise to no one (and a relief to Mr Biden’s team), nonetheless is another break with tradition that undermines the ceremonial demonstration of a core democratic value Mr Trump has virulently disregarded since the election: the peaceful transfer of power between administrations.

It remains unclear if Vice-President Mike Pence will attend the ceremony, which is expected to take place under heightened security after rioting supporters of Mr Trump staged a deadly invasion of the Capitol earlier this week in an attempt to reverse his loss.

Mr Pence has signalled his willingness to attend, an administration source said, but has yet to receive a formal invitation.

Mr Biden welcomed Mr Trump’s announcement that he won’t attend the January 20 inauguration, calling it a “ good thing”.

“I was told on the way over here that he indicated he wasn’t going to show up at the inauguration,” Mr Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware.

“One of the few things he and I have ever agreed on,” Mr Biden said. “It’s a good thing, him not showing up.”

“He’s been an embarrassment to the country,” he added. “He’s not fit to serve.”

Mr Trump is facing the possibility of being impeached next week for inciting his supporters to storm the US Capitol.

“He exceeded even my worst notions about him,” Mr Biden said. “He’s one of the most incompetent presidents in the history of the United States of America.”

Mr Biden said Mr Pence would be welcome at his inauguration.

Former president Barack Obama, who acknowledged Mr Trump’s victory immediately after his win and oversaw a detailed transition plan that was ignored by the incoming president, attended Trump’s inaugural.

Former first lady Michelle Obama described listening to his “American carnage” inauguration speech as one of the most excruciating experiences of her life.

Only three presidents have skipped their successor’s swearing-in: Mr John Adams in 1801; his son John Quincy Adams in 1829; and Mr Andrew Johnson, a Republican who sat out the 1869 inauguration after he was replaced in favor of fellow Republican Ulysses S. Grant.