President Donald Trump has announced that he will not attend the swearing-in of Joe Biden on 20 January.
In a tweet on Friday afternoon, Trump said: “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”
The statement, made hours after he begrudgingly acknowledged his defeat in November’s election and less than two weeks before he is due to leave office, is not a huge shock – but is yet another of the string of democratic norms shattered by Trump during his four years in the White House.
In a video shared on Twitter on Thursday night, Trump finally appeared to concede defeat, calling for a smooth transfer of power to Biden.
“The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy,” he said. “To those who engaged in the acts of violence and destruction, you do not represent our country. And to those who broke the law, you will pay.”
But, perhaps unsurprisingly, the more conciliatory tone did not last long. Taking to Twitter on Friday, Trump said: “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”
It is unclear if Vice President Mike Pence – who was in the Capitol, presiding over the certification of President-elect Biden’s victory, when it was attacked by Trump supporters on Wednesday – will attend the ceremony.
Pence has reportedly signalled his willingness to attend but, the New York Times reported, is yet to receive a formal invitation.
The large crowds traditionally seen at the swearing in of a new president, on the steps of the very building that we sieged by a pro-Trump mob earlier this week, will be absent this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Although there are just twelve days until Biden’s inauguration, whether Trump will still be the president when his successor is sworn in is far from certain.
Democrats, incensed by Wednesday’s shocking events, pressed forward with plans to impeach Trump on Friday. House Democrats said they could fast-track the process, enabling a vote on Trump’s removal to take place by the middle of next week.
Representative Katherine Clarke of Massachusetts, the No. 4 ranked Democrat in the House, said: “If the reports are correct and Mike Pence is not going to uphold his oath of office and remove the president and help protect our democracy, then we will move forward with impeachment to do just that.
“We have a president who incited a seditious mob to storm the Capitol. We now have five deaths from that and the harm to our democracy is really unfathomable.”
That gambit appears to be picking up support from Republicans in the Senate. Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska – a frequent critic of Trump – vowed he would “definitely consider whatever articles they might move, because I believe the president has disregarded his oath of office.”
Speaking on CBS on Friday, Sasse added: “He sworn an oath to the American people to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution — he acted against that. What he did was wicked.”