Outgoing US President Donald Trump said Friday he will not be attending President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. The announcement came as media reports suggested Trump may face a second impeachment vote.
“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th,” he wrote on Twitter.
The snub appeared to backtrack on a message Trump gave a day earlier that he would work to ensure a “smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power” to his Democratic Party successor in the wake of the US Capitol riots on Wednesday.
Reuters news agency cited a source in the Trump administration as saying that the outgoing president would likely leave the White House a day before the inauguration and head to his Florida resort.
Biden later welcomed Trump’s decision as a “good thing.”
“I was told on the way over here that he [Trump] indicated he wasn’t going to show up at the inauguration,” the Democrat told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware. “[It’s] one of the few things he and I have ever agreed on.”
Trump’s announcement came as some lawmakers in Congress were to debate whether to bring articles of impeachment to the House of Representatives for a vote over the president’s alleged incitement of protesters to storm the US Capitol building.
NBC News on Friday tweeted a draft drawn up by Democratic members of the House of Representatives calling for a single article of impeachment against Trump for alleged incitement of insurrection.
White House spokesman Judd Deere quickly responded that impeaching Trump with just 12 days remaining in his presidency “would only serve to further divide the country.”
The Associated Press cited two people familiar with the planning as saying that three House Democrats were planning to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump on Monday, meaning the chamber could potentially vote on his removal from office by midweek.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had discussed the prospect of impeachment with her leadership team Thursday night.
Hours earlier, she said the House of Representatives was willing to act if Vice President Mike Pence did not invoke Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution — which permits the forceful removal of a president from power by his own Cabinet.
Trump has been impeached once already by the House of Representatives and was later acquitted by the Senate.
Wednesday’s violence saw Trump’s supporters occupy the building for several hours just as lawmakers were tallying the electoral votes that certified Biden’s victory. The riotous events left five people dead.
The Justice Department announced Friday it had indicted 15 people involved in the violence, including one man accused of possessing bombs made to act like “homemade napalm.”
As well as being accused of inciting his supporters, Trump has been criticized for refusing to forcefully condemn the violent assault and even appeared to excuse it.
Meanwhile, Pelosi said Friday she had spoken to the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff about preventing Trump from launching a nuclear strike during his final days in office.
In a letter to her colleagues, Pelosi said she wanted to prevent him from “initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes.”
“The situation of this unhinged President could not be more dangerous,” she warned.
Pelosi later said Gen. Mark Milley assured her longstanding safeguards are in place.
Trump has made no such threat to launch any military action, although tensions with arch-foe Iran have risen in recent weeks.
Despite Trump’s absence, Vice President Mike Pence is still expected to attend the swearing-in event.
Trump’s snub had been widely expected, as for weeks he falsely claimed victory in the US presidential election and promulgated baseless claims of voter fraud.
His own administration said the election had been fairly run.
Trump will be the first incumbent president since Andrew Johnson to skip his successor’s swearing-in.
Traditionally, the incoming and outgoing presidents ride to the US Capitol together for the ceremony, as a symbol of the nation’s peaceful transition.
mm/sms (Reuters, AP)
Donald Trump to snub Joe Biden inauguration as impeachment looms The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ Deutsche Welle.