WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump announced Friday he will skip Joe Biden’s inauguration in a final, unrepentant act of division as his presidency imploded amid demands that he step aside for the last 12 days in office.
“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th,” the US leader said on Twitter.
The statement, while not a surprise from the most divisive president in decades, drew a line through any idea that Trump might seek to spend his remaining moments in the White House helping his Democratic successor calm tensions.
Not since 1869 has an outgoing US president missed the inauguration of the incoming leader, a ceremony symbolizing the peaceful transfer of power.
Two days after Trump incited followers to storm Congress, his presidency is in freefall, with allies walking away and opponents calling for his removal.
Democrats in the House of Representatives, who already impeached Trump in a traumatic, partisan vote in 2019, said an unprecedented second impeachment of the Republican could be ready for a vote next week.
“We can act very quickly when we want to,” Representative Katherine Clark told CNN.
Whether Republican leaders of the Senate would then agree to hold a lightning fast impeachment trial before the January 20 transition is another matter.
However, with calls also swirling for cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment and declare Trump unfit for office, it’s clear that the billionaire real estate tycoon is out of friends.
Senator Ben Sasse, one Republican who says he will “definitely consider” impeachment, recommended that Trump at minimum step back and let his vice president run the show in the dying days.
“I think the less the president does over the next 12 days the better,” he told NPR radio.
Trump, whose incitement of crowds assaulting Congress on Wednesday capped relentless efforts to overturn Biden’s November 3 election win, finally conceded defeat on Thursday and appealed for calm.
“A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power,” Trump said in a short video.
However, the evidently reluctant concession, in which Trump failed to congratulate Biden or directly admit defeat, was too little, too late to calm outrage over his role in the Capitol invasion.
Five people died in the mayhem, including one woman who was shot dead and a Capitol Police officer who was pronounced dead from his injuries on Thursday. Flags over the Capitol were lowered to half-mast on Friday.