Is Donald Trump attending the inauguration?

People around the world will turn their gaze to the United States today, as Joe Biden officially becomes the 46th President of the United States.

After four years with Donald Trump sitting as Commander-in-Chief, many will be curious to see how different Biden will steer the country.

Biden’s inauguration, though smaller in scale due to coronavirus, is still bringing out the stars. Cher and Barbra Streisand headlined a pre-inauguration concert, Lady Gaga will be performing the National Anthem later today and Jennifer Lopez will also celebrate the new President with a special performance.

But will Trump be there?

Is Donald Trump attending the inauguration?

In one of his final tweets, Donald Trump told his 88 million followers that he would not attend the inauguration of Joe Biden – instead choosing to jet off to Florida on Air Force One.

Tweeting before his permanent Twitter ban, Trump wrote: ‘To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th’.

The news came the day after pro-Trump rioters invaded the US Capitol building to protest Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election.

It has been confirmed that outgoing VP Mike Pence will attend the inauguration.

Which US Presidents have not attended the inauguration?

Trump is not the first president to refuse to attend the inauguration of his successor, however, he is the first to do so in 152 years.

There have been four other instances where a sitting president has not attended the inauguration of their replacement.

The first president to abstain from attending their successor’s inauguration was John Adams, in 1801.

The nation’s second-ever president did not attend the inauguration for its third, Thomas Jefferson.

According to The White House Historical Association (WHHA), Adams was never formally invited to the ceremony, which could explain his absence.

The WHHA also suggest Adams may have had good intentions in not attending, as tensions were simmering between the two parties following the election.

Jefferson’s inauguration marked the first peaceful transfer of power from one party to another, as Adams was a Federalist (the first political party in the United States) and Jefferson led the Democratic-Republican Party.

The second president to decide to skip the inauguration of their replacement was John Quincy Adams in 1829 – John Adams’s son, and proof that the apple doesn’t always fall far from the tree.

Quincy Adams refused to attend the inauguration of successor Andrew Jackson, whom he had previously defeated in the 1824 presidential election.

The third president to abstain from attending the inauguration was Martin Van Buren in 1841.

Van Buren did not attend the 1841 inauguration of William Henry Harrison, for reasons that remain unclear because the two appeared friendly – but it turned out to be a smart move on Van Buren’s part as Harrison would go on to give the longest inauguration address in history, clocking in at one hour and 45 minutes.

The fourth and, up until Trump, final president to miss their successor’s inauguration was Andrew Johnson in 1869.

Johnson refused to attend the ceremony for Ulysses S. Grant in the post-Civil War era, despite also being a supporter of the Union – which meant keeping the States together and not letting the South secede.

What happens at the presidential inauguration?

The inauguration is the formal ceremony that marks the start of a new presidency.

Trump’s absence will not affect proceedings.  

The only legally required feature of the day is when the president-elect recites the presidential oath of office.

The oath goes: ‘I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’

The exiting president would usually attend and swap gifts with the new First Family, as Michelle Obama and Barack did for President Trump and First Lady Melania in 2017, but the Bidens will have no such welcome.

It has also become customary for the new president to address crowds, and to invite performances from superstar celebrities.

Barack Obama had Aretha Franklin and Beyoncé perform, for example, but this is more celebratory than official.

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