President Donald Trump, who begrudgingly recognized his defeat less than two weeks before he was due to leave office, announced on Friday 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 Biden’s team), nonetheless is another break with tradition that undermines the ceremonial demonstration of a core democratic value 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 Trump staged a deadly invasion of the Capitol earlier this week in an attempt to reverse his loss.
Pence has signaled his willingness to attend, an administration source said, but has yet to receive a formal invitation.
Former president Barack Obama, who acknowledged 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: John Adams in 1801; his son John Quincy Adams in 1829; and Andrew Johnson, a Republican who sat out the 1869 inauguration after he was replaced in favor of fellow Republican Ulysses S. Grant.