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 arrived hours after he released a video message acknowledging, on camera, that he would not serve a second term. That statement came only after a deadly siege of the Capitol building on Wednesday perpetrated by his supporters. The resulting violence left five people dead, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer.