WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump will leave the White House for Florida shortly before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration Wednesday, two sources familiar with his plans said on the condition of anonymity to discuss details not yet announced.
Trump will hold a farewell ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, the usual jumping off point for Air Force One located in Maryland just outside of Washington, D.C., before his final departure from the capital city, the sources said.
Details of that ceremony are still under consideration, according to sources, but may include a color guard and 21-gun salute. The president has previously changed his travel plans in the weeks since election.
Trump had already announced he would skip Biden’s inauguration, breaking with more than a century of tradition. That means Trump will also ditch the traditional helicopter lift from the U.S. Capitol, a potent moment of symbolism that underscores the peaceful transfer of power between two presidents.
Vice President Mike Pence is set to attend the inauguration.
Pence called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris Thursday to congratulate her and offer assistance less than a week before she is sworn is as his successor, according to a source familiar with the call who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The pair have not spoken since the election, the source said.
Biden dismissed Trump’s decision not to attend the inauguration, telling reporters last week it was “one of the few things he and I ever agreed on.” But of Pence, the president-elect said he was “welcome to come” and that he’d “be honored to have him there.”
Trump and Pence’s relationship has soured in recent days after the vice president defied the president by fulfilling his constitutional role in counting the electoral votes that showed Biden won. Trump tried to pressure Pence to overturn the results by rejecting electoral votes – something the vice president does not have the authority to do – when Congress met to count the votes Jan. 6.
The president instead whipped up an angry mob that went on to storm the U.S. Capitol, where some rioters chanted “Hang Pence” as they ransacked the building and the vice president was evacuated to safety. Trump became the only U.S. president to be impeached twice for his remarks before the violent assault on the Capitol. The pair met Monday for the first time since the attack.
Trump will be the first president to skip the inauguration of his successor since 1869, when impeached President Andrew Johnson avoided the ceremony for Ulysses S. Grant. A father-and-son set of presidents – John Adams in 1801 and John Quincy Adams in 1829 – left Washington before the inaugurations of successors Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.