President Trump announced Friday that he will not attend the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, ending two months of speculation about his decision. He will be the first president in more than 150 years — and only the fourth in U.S. history — to skip the ceremony where his successor is sworn in.
"To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th," the president wrote in a tweet. (His access to Twitter was restored after a 12-hour lockout for "repeated and severe violations" of Twitter's rules against election misinformation.)
To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 8, 2021
The announcement came a day after Mr. Trump acknowledged for the first time that Mr. Biden would be taking office. In a video released by the White House in the wake of his supporters' siege on the U.S. Capitol, Mr. Trump belatedly promised an "orderly transition."
Mr. Trump has not announced his plans for the upcoming Inauguration Day or how he intends to leave the White House. Mr. Biden has said it will be a scaled-back day of events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and he has urged members of the public to stay home.
Former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are planning to attend Mr. Biden's ceremony on January 20. Jimmy Carter, at the age of 96, is the only living former president who said he will not be there.
The outgoing president traditionally attends the inauguration of the next president as a symbol of the peaceful transfer of power. Defeated candidates who did not win the White House also sometimes attend.
Hillary Clinton was at Mr. Trump's swearing-in in 2017 after her electoral defeat. Al Gore attended George W. Bush's inauguration in 2001 as the outgoing vice president after their contested election went to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mr. Biden had previously suggested it would be good for Mr. Trump to attend the inauguration to show the world a peaceful transition. But he changed his tune on Friday when asked about Mr. Trump's decision to skip.
"One of the few things he and I have ever agreed on," the president-elect told reporters. "It's a good thing, him not showing up."
Mr. Trump is the first president to skip his successor's ceremony since Andrew Johnson in 1869. Johnson, a Democrat, was so unpopular with his own party that he didn't secure a nomination for a second term, and Republican Ulysses S. Grant won the election of 1868.
Johnson and Grant detested each other so much that they refused to even ride in the same carriage on Inauguration Day, according to political historian Ronald Shafer.
Johnson was also the first U.S. president to be impeached — and Mr. Trump is the third, following Bill Clinton.
Before Johnson, only two previous presidents had snubbed their successor's inauguration. John Adams left Washington in 1801 before the ceremony for Thomas Jefferson, who had defeated him. Adams, the second U.S. president, and the first to lose an election.
Adams' son John Quincy Adams, the sixth president, skipped the inauguration of Andrew Jackson after also losing the presidency.
First published on January 8, 2021 / 12:27 PM