Donald Trump has announced he will not attend Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, making him the first outgoing president to skip his successor’s swearing-in since 1869.
The President revealed his decision on Twitter this morning.
It might not be surprising, but Mr Trump’s choice does break with a longstanding precedent.
The peaceful handover of power from president to president, in person, is considered an important American tradition, even – or perhaps especially – when the two men represent different parties.
Barack Obama showed up for Donald Trump’s inauguration. George Bush showed up for Mr Obama’s. Bill Clinton showed up for Mr Bush’s. And so on.
Only three outgoing presidents in US history have not attended their successor’s inauguration. They were John Adams in 1801, his son John Quincy Adams in 1829, and Andrew Johnson in 1869.
It remains unclear whether Vice President Mike Pence will represent the outgoing administration in Mr Trump’s absence. Mr Pence reportedly has yet to decide whether he will attend.
In a video message posted on his Twitter account yesterday, Mr Trump finally acknowledged he would be leaving the White House to make way for Mr Biden.
In the clip, he defended his decision to fight the election results and refuse to concede Mr Biden won.
But he said the fight was now over.
“My only goal was to ensure the integrity of the vote. In so doing I was fighting to defend American democracy,” he said.
“I continue to strongly believe we must reform our election laws to verify the identity and eligibility of all voters.”
He committed to a “smooth” transition and said “a new administration” will be sworn in on January 20.
“No Congress has certified the results. A new administration will be sworn in on January 20th, my focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power,” he said.
“This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”
“To the citizens of our country, serving as your president has been the honour of my lifetime. And to all of my wonderful supporters, I know you are disappointed, but I also want you to know that our incredible journey is only just beginning.
“Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.”
Mr Trump started the message by explicitly condemning the violence seen during Wednesday’s assault on the Capitol, saying he was “outraged” by what he had witnessed.
“I’d like to begin by addressing the heinous attack at the US Capitol. Like all Americans, I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem,” he said.
“America is and must always be a nation of law and order. The demonstrators who entered the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy. To those who engaged in the acts of destruction: You do not represent our country. To those you broke the law: you will pay.
“We have just been through an intense election and emotions are high. But now tempers must be cooled and calm restored. We must get on with the business of America. My campaign vigorously pursued every avenue to contest the election results.”