Outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Friday he won’t attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration later this month, as the country is struggling to recover from a deadly spiral of chaos and violence engulfing the Capitol on Wednesday.
“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th,” Trump tweeted. Only three previous U.S. presidents didn’t show up at their successors’ inauguration. The last time was in 1869 when Andrew Johnson skipped the swearing-in of Ulysses S. Grant. Biden, speaking from Wilmington, Delaware, responded on Friday that “it’s a good thing” that Trump won’t be at the ceremony on Capitol Hill on Jan. 20, while stressing that Vice President Mike Pence is “welcome” there.
Former U.S. Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton will attend Biden’s inauguration. Former President Jimmy Carter, the country’s oldest living president at age 96, will not be there in the wake of a surging COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump is facing a barrage of bipartisan criticism for his role in the massive demonstrations that left five people dead, including a police officer, and dozens of others injured.
The casualties came following a chaotic and violent intrusion into the Capitol by his supporters on Wednesday, when lawmakers were certifying Biden’s victory.
More than a dozen individuals have been charged so far in the federal court in the District of Columbia over crimes committed at the U.S. Capitol, the Department of Justice said Friday amid ongoing investigations.
Trump’s initial reaction on Wednesday fell short of condemnation of the unrest but continued to push unsubstantiated allegations that the 2020 presidential election was “fraudulent,” although dozens of lawsuits by his campaign and allies had been dismissed over the past two months, mostly for a profound lack of evidence.
A growing list of the Trump administration’s officials, including two cabinet members, have resigned in protest over the Capitol violence and Trump’s response.
Meanwhile, congressional Democrats are seeking to initiate proceedings to remove the president from office before he steps down.
In a press release on Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it is the hope of members of the House Democratic Caucus that Trump “will immediately resign,” revealing that she has directed a panel to quickly take up a motion to impeach the president again. House Democrats reportedly plan to introduce an impeachment resolution on Monday. A draft of the document includes one article of impeachment for “incitement of insurrection.”
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy warned in a statement on Friday that impeaching Trump with just 12 days left in his term will “only divide our country more.”
The House, led by Democrats, impeached Trump in 2019 after an inquiry triggered by a whistleblower complaint that raised concerns about the White House’s interactions with Ukraine. The Republican-led Senate later acquitted the president, allowing him to continue holding office.
Daniel Goldman, a legal analyst serving as Congressional staff in the U.S. House, tweeted on Friday that it is “highly unlikely” that the lower chamber could impeach Trump and the Senate would hold a trial before the president leaves office.
Under mounting pressure, Trump on Thursday condemned the deadly violence at the Capitol, issued a call of unity, and vowed efforts to ensure a peaceful transfer of power.
“Now Congress has certified the results. A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly, and seamless transition of power,” he said in a taped video posted on Twitter.
The social networking service permanently shut down Trump’s account in the wake of his two new posts on Friday, two days after temporarily blocking it given the turmoil on Capitol Hill and warning of a permanent suspension if he again violates the company’s “Civic Integrity or Violent Threats policies.”
“Due to the ongoing tensions in the United States, and an uptick in the global conversation in regards to the people who violently stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, these two Tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks,” Twitter said in a release.
“After assessing the language in these Tweets against our Glorification of Violence policy, we have determined that these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service,” it declared.
Trump switched to another account to lash out at Twitter and claimed that he and his team are looking at the possibility of “building out our own platform in the near future.”
“Tonight, Twitter employees have coordinated with the Democrats and the Radical Left in removing my account from their platform, to silence me — and YOU, the 75,000,000 great patriots who voted for me,” he wrote.
“I predicted this would happen. We have been negotiating with various other sites, and will have a big announcement soon.” The new tweets were quickly removed from the page.
The U.S. Congress on early Thursday morning affirmed the Electoral College votes of the 2020 presidential election, in which Biden won 306 versus 232 for Trump. It takes at least 270 electoral votes to win the White House. Biden also won the popular votes by 7 million and more than 4 percentage points.
Biden finished naming his 24-member cabinet after announcing nominees for labor and commerce secretaries on Friday.
“Given what our country has been through the last four years and the last few days, and given the threats and risks in this world, they should be confirmed as close to January 20th as possible.
There should be no vacancies at State, Defense, Treasury, and Homeland Security,” the president-elect said. “And as we remain in this dark winter of the pandemic, and with an economic crisis that’s deepened, we have no time to lose on the entire team,” he noted.