Outgoing United States President Donald Trump said on Twitter on Friday, 8 January, that he would not attend the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on 20 January, which Biden expressed was a “good thing”, Associated Press reported.
He called Trump’s decision “one of the few things we have agreed on”, adding that he was “embarrassment” to the country and not worthy of holding office.
Historian Douglas Brinkley went as far as to say “Donald Trump doesn’t want to be in Washington as the second-fiddle loser standing on stage with Joe Biden,” AP quoted.
The inauguration is the formal ceremony marking the beginning of a new presidential term and takes place in Washington DC.
US political customs dictate that the outgoing president of the country be present at the inauguration of the new leader. However, earlier reports had also suggested that Trump would not be attending Biden’s inauguration.
Not a First
According to report by The Washington Post, the last time an outgoing president skipped an inauguration of the incoming president was in 1869, when Andrew Johnson had decided to miss the swearing-in of Ulysses S. Grant. Johnson wasn’t the first president to do this either.
In 1841, President Martin Van Buren chose to give a miss to the inauguration of William Henry Harrison, although the reason remains unclear.
According to Washington Post, before Buren, in 1829, John Quincy Adams left Washington a day before the swearing in of President Andrew Jackson, much like his father John Adams, who missed President Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration in 1801, having reportedly stormed out of Washington at 4 a.m. the same day.
A report by Politico said that there is a possibility that Trump and Melania will leave for their South Florida resort Mar-a-Lago a day ahead of the inauguration. However, the report said that despite Trump not making an appearance, Vice President Mike Pence is expected to attend the presidential inauguration in a show of support for peaceful transition.
What Happens on Inauguration Day?
According to BBC, the requirement of the inauguration ceremony is that the president-elect recite the presidential oath of office: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
The inauguration ceremony is always held on 20 January and the swearing in is scheduled to happen around noon. After the ceremony, Biden will be able to move into the White House as the President of the US.
The Vice President of the US will be sworn in ahead of the President, meaning that Kamala Harris will go first on 20 January.
The oath-taking will happen in front of the US Capitol. In light of the recent siege on the Capitol, security plans, which are usually detailed, are expected to be enhanced. According to BBC, the DC National Guard, which was called in on 6 January, will be available for the inauguration proceedings, in addition to the Capitol police.
Usually, huge numbers flock to Washington DC for the ceremony, but given the coronavirus pandemic, the celebrations this year will be "extremely limited", the Biden team has said. It has also urged Americans to avoid travelling to the capital for the event.
(With inputs from BBC, Washington Post and Politico.)