Pence Skips Trump's Send-Off but Will Attend Biden's Inauguration Ceremony
In their last hours in office, Vice President Mike Pence skipped President Donald Trump's send-off so that he can attend President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.
Before Biden is set to take the oath of office Wednesday afternoon in Washington, D.C., Trump, 74, said his goodbyes at the White House as he boarded the Marine One helicopter to travel to Joint Base Andrews in Prince George's County, Maryland, for an official send-off.
Pence, 61, was not in attendance at Trump's going-away proceedings, and was said to likely skip the event sources previously told CNN and The Hill. The Wednesday morning send-off saw the outgoing president board Air Force One a final time to go home to his private Mar-a-Lago club in South Florida. Sources told the outlets Pence won't be there so that he is still able to attend Biden's inauguration, from which Trump previously confirmed he will be absent.
A spokesperson for Pence did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Trump's departure comes two weeks after a violent mob of his own supporters descended on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, ransacking offices and forcing the evacuation of lawmakers, in an attempted coup. At least five people have died as a result of the violence perpetrated that day.
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The president has been widely condemned for an address he gave prior to the attempted insurrection when he told those at a rally that they should march to the Capitol and "fight like Hell."
Trump has since called those remarks "totally appropriate," and said the "real problem" lies with the politicians who spoke about last summer's "horrible riots," a reference to the Black Lives Matter protests held in the wake of several widely reported police-involved shootings of unarmed Black people.
His incitement of the riot — and a series of tweets posted amid and after the violence — ultimately led to Trump's permanent suspension from Twitter. In one of his final tweets, he wrote that he would not be attending Biden's inauguration. Later that same day, Biden gave a press conference in Wilmington, Delaware, saying Trump not showing up to the inauguration "is one of the few things we agree on."
By not attending the inauguration of his successor, Trump will be breaking with a long tradition in which the outgoing president welcomes the incoming commander-in-chief to the White House the morning of Inauguration Day, before the pair rides together to the U.S. Capitol building.
In January 2017, Trump was accompanied by former President Barack Obama when traveling to his own inauguration.
Sources have told PEOPLE that the staff at Mar-a-Lago have been preparing for Trump's arrival, renovating his 2,000-square-foot residence at the club, which he purchased in the '80s. (Those reports have led to controversy among some Palm Beach residents who point to an agreement Trump signed, after he purchased the resort, in which he promised that no one would stay at the property for longer than seven days at a time.)
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