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Trump to snub Biden’s inauguration as Capitol riot fallout builds


US President Donald Trump has said he will not attend the inauguration of his successor, Joe Biden, on 20 January.

“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th,” the president tweeted.

The president-elect welcomed the news, calling Mr Trump’s absence “a good thing”.

Mr Trump is facing calls for his removal from office after five people died when a mob of his supporters invaded Congress.

The president was not fit to serve in the White House, Mr Biden said. But he said he would happy for Vice-President Mike Pence to attend the inauguration.

The latest death is that of US Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who succumbed to his injuries in hospital.

The FBI and Washington police will jointly investigate his death, although they have not yet said whether it will be treated as murder.

Wednesday’s violence came hours after Mr Trump encouraged his supporters to fight against the election results as Congress was certifying Mr Biden’s victory in the November vote.

Under pressure, Mr Trump finally released a recorded statement late on Thursday condemning the storming of the US Capitol as a “heinous attack”.

How unusual is Trump’s snub of the inauguration?

It is highly unusual but not unprecedented: the last president to skip the inauguration of his successor was Andrew Johnson, in 1869.

Mr Trump has now admitted defeat in the 3 November election and has promised a peaceful transfer of power. However, he has repeated baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.

Top congressional Democrats have urged Vice-President Mike Pence to begin a process of declaring Mr Trump unfit for office.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Mr Trump should be removed for “his incitement of insurrection”.

“The President’s dangerous and seditious acts necessitate his immediate removal from office,” they said in a joint statement.

The duo called for Mr Trump to be ousted using the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice-president to step up if the president is unable to perform his duties owing to a mental or physical illness.

There is no sign that Mr Pence is prepared to do this.

If he does not, Mrs Pelosi and Mr Schumer say they will start impeachment proceedings.

However, time is tight, with just 12 days remaining in Mr Trump’s presidential term.

On Friday, Mrs Pelosi said she had spoken to the top US military official, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to prevent Mr Trump from accessing US nuclear codes.

Separately, one of Mrs Pelosi’s staff members revealed that a laptop was stolen from her office during the mob invasion of Congress.

Trump’s announcement that he will not attend Joe Biden’s inauguration, breaking with a long American tradition, should not come as a huge surprise. He only recently, and reluctantly, acknowledged his presidential defeat, after months of unfounded allegations that a landslide electoral victory had been stolen from him.

The terse message, posted on Twitter, will undercut the president’s call for “healing and reconciliation” made in the White House video he released last night. It suggests Trump, far from being at peace with his defeat, still harbours the kind of anger and resentment he has displayed in recent days.

He will not graciously welcome the Bidens to Washington as part of his promised “smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power”. He may not even be anywhere near Washington when they arrive.

Instead, scripted Trump and Twitter Trump reveal two very different attitudes.

Already, Trump has tweeted about the “giant voice” his supporters will continue to have. The question is whether Trump is writing a coda to his presidency or just clearing his throat.

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