The Associated Press
US President Donald Trump said on Friday that he would not attend the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20 and undercut his message the day before that he would work to bring his successor a « smooth, orderly and seamless transfer of power « to enable.
Trump gave no indication of how he would spend his final hours in office and will be the first incumbent president since Andrew Johnson to skip the swearing-in of his successor. Traditionally, incoming and outgoing presidents drive together to the ceremony at the US Capitol, symbolizing the nation’s peaceful transition.
Trump’s comments come two days after a violent crowd of supporters occupied the Capitol for several hours as lawmakers added up the votes that confirmed Biden’s victory. Biden will become president at noon on January 20th, regardless of Trump’s plans.
« For everyone who asked, I will not go to the inauguration on January 20th, » Trump tweeted. The move had been widely anticipated as Trump falsely claimed election victory and made unsubstantiated claims of election fraud for months. His own government said the elections were fair.
Biden’s transition team had no immediate comment on Trump’s announcement. But Jen Psaki, the new President-elect’s press secretary in the White House, said last month that it doesn’t matter to Biden whether Trump attends the inauguration.
On Thursday, with 12 days left in office, Trump finally bowed to reality amid increasing talk of evicting him early, admitting he will leave peacefully after Congress confirms his defeat / p>
Trump cited a video from the White House on Thursday condemning the violence perpetrated on his behalf at the Capitol the day before. Then he admitted on camera for the first time that his presidency was about to end – although he refused to name Biden or explicitly state that he had lost.
« A new government will be inaugurated on January 20, » Trump said in the video. « My focus now is on ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transfer of power. This moment requires healing and reconciliation. »
The next morning, however, Trump was back in his usual department. Instead of offering condolences to the officer who died from injuries sustained during the riot, Trump went on Twitter to praise the « great American patriots » who voted for him.
« You will not be disregarded or treated unfairly in any way, form or form! » he tweeted.
Thursday evening’s address to prevent the forced eviction talk came at the end of a day when the cornered President was out of sight in the White House. He fell silent on some of his favorite Internet communication channels and watched the resignation of several top aides, including two cabinet secretaries.
And once officials looked through the aftermath of the pro-Trump mob’s siege of the U.S. Capitol, there was increasing discussion about indicting him a second time or invoking the 25th Amendment to oust him from the Oval Office .
The invasion of the Capitol Building, a powerful symbol of the nation’s democracy, rocked Republicans and Democrats alike. They have struggled to contain the impulses of a president who was deemed too dangerous to control his own social media accounts, but who remains in command of the greatest military in the world.
« I’m not worried about the next election, I’m worried about the next 14 days, » said South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s most staunch allies. Denouncing the president’s role in the riot on Wednesday, he said: « If something else happens, all options are on the table. »
Democratic House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi said: « The President of the United States has instigated an armed uprising against America. » She called him « a very dangerous person who shouldn’t stay in office. This is urgent, an emergency of the highest order. »
Neither of the two ways to remove Trump seemed likely, given little time in his tenure to draft the cabinet members needed to invoke the amendment or organize the hearings and judicial proceedings scheduled for an impeachment. But the fact that the dramatic options were being discussed even in Washington’s power corridors warned Trump.
Fears of what a desperate president might do in his final days in the capital and beyond, including speculation, could lead to more violence, rushing appointments, issuing ill-conceived pardons – including for himself and his family – or even sparking a destabilizing one international incident.
The president’s video Thursday, posted on his return to Twitter after his account was restored, was a complete reverse of the video he posted just 24 hours earlier in which he said to the violent mob, « We love you You are very special. ”His refusal to condemn the violence sparked a firestorm of criticism, and in the new video he finally condemned the“ lawlessness and chaos ”of the protesters.
Aides said the video should also slow the mass exodus of employees and stave off potential legal problems for Trump once he leaves office. White House attorney Pat Cipollone has repeatedly warned the President that he could be held responsible for inciting violence on Wednesday.
Regarding his feelings on leaving office, Trump told the nation that « it has been the honor of my life to serve as your president, » while pointing out a return to the public. He told the followers: « Our incredible journey is just beginning. »
While Trump remained silent in the executive branch through Thursday night and settled in the executive branch, loyalists around him headed to the exits and their departures – which were in two weeks anyway – advanced to protest the president’s treatment of the uprising .
Transport Minister Elaine Chao was the first to resign. Chao, married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of the lawmakers trapped in the Capitol on Wednesday, said in a message to staff that the attack « worried me deeply in ways that I just can’t put aside. »
Education Minister Betsy DeVos followed. In her resignation letter on Thursday, DeVos accused Trump of sparking tension in the violent attack on the seat of national democracy. « There is no doubt about the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the turning point for me, » she wrote.
Others who resigned after the uprising: Assistant National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger; Ryan Tully, Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs, National Security Council; and First Lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, a former White House press secretary.
Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s former chief of staff who became Special Envoy for Northern Ireland, told CNBC that he called Secretary of State Mike Pompeo « to let him know that I have resigned … I can’t. I can. » t stay. «
Mulvaney said others who work for Trump have chosen to stay in their posts to provide some kind of guard rail for the president during his final days in office.
« Those who choose to stay, and I have spoken to some of them, choose to stay because they fear the president might make someone worse, » said Mulvaney.
Mulvaney’s predecessor in the chief of staff, retired US Marine Corps general John Kelly, told CNN that « I think the cabinet should meet and have a discussion » on Section 4 of the 25th Amendment – which is the forcible removal of Trump its own allowed cabinet.
Staff-level discussions on the matter took place in several departments and even parts of the White House, according to two people who were briefed on the talks. But no cabinet member has publicly expressed support for the move – which would make Vice President Mike Pence incumbent president.
In the west wing, shell-shocked helpers packed up and acted after a belated instruction to leave their posts before the Biden team arrived.
Few aides had a grasp of the president’s plans, and some wondered if Trump would remain largely out of sight until he left the White House. But the president has asked aides to investigate a possible farewell trip to the southern border next week to highlight his immigration policy.
For everyone who asked, I won’t go to the inauguration on January 20th.
The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKING AMERICA BIG AGAIN, will continue to have a HUGE VOTE. You will not be disregarded or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form !!!
Trump supporters left a flag in front of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP)
With the US Capitol in the background, a member of the military walks past newly erected fences on January 7, 2021, one day after a mob loyal to US President Donald Trump , stormed the US Congress in Washington. (Evan Vucci / AP)
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