President Donald Trump announced Friday that he will not attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration later this month, shattering another norm of the American presidency on what will be his final day in office.
“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th,” Trump wrote on Twitter, 12 days before Inauguration Day.
With his decision, Trump is poised to become the first U.S. president in modern political history to not appear for his successor’s swearing-in ceremony — one of the nation’s most prominent public displays of its commitment to a peaceful transfer of power.
Only three other former presidents have declined to attend the inauguration of their White House successor: John Adams in 1801, John Quincy Adams in 1829 and Andrew Johnson in 1869. Former President Richard Nixon — who resigned in 1974 under threat of impeachment — was not present when President Gerald Ford was subsequently sworn-in at the White House.
Former President Barack Obama, under whom Biden served as vice president, is presumed to be attending, as is former President Bill Clinton. Former President Jimmy Carter, who is 96 and the only other living former president, announced Tuesday that he would not attend.
Biden has previously said that while he does not personally care whether Trump attends his inauguration, the outgoing president should show up for the sake of the nation and its image on the world stage.
Trump’s presence is “important in a sense that we are able to demonstrate, at the end of this chaos that he’s created, that there is a peaceful transfer of power — with competing parties standing there, shaking hands and moving on,” Biden told CNN in an interview last month.
“The protocol of the transfer of power, I think, is important,” Biden said. “But it is totally his decision, and it’s of no personal consequence to me. But I do think it is for the country.”
Trump’s tweet Friday represents his latest show of defiance toward the election results, which he had publicly disputed with baseless claims of widespread voter fraud until a couple days ago.
That false rhetoric culminated with an incendiary speech to supporters at a rally outside the White House on Wednesday, when he urged the crowd to march on the Capitol as Congress certified Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Pro-Trump rioters proceeded to breach and ransack the building, forcing lawmakers to shelter in place as both chambers of Congress went into lockdown. At least five people died as a result of the violence, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer.
Congress eventually resumed its certification proceedings later Wednesday night and affirmed Biden’s win early Thursday morning. Trump then issued a statement acknowledging for the first time that he would leave office, although he did not admit defeat or say he was conceding.
Since the siege of the Capitol, scores of Democratic lawmakers, several former federal officials, some governors and at least one Republican House member have all demanded Trump’s immediate removal from office via impeachment or the Cabinet’s invocation of the 25th Amendment. Many senior members of the administration have resigned, including the secretaries of transportation and education.
Under increasing threat of being ousted from office, Trump released a video message Thursday evening finally recognizing that he had lost to Biden. He also took a harder line against the rioters, who he had described as “very special” on Wednesday.