Frustrated by the loss of his Twitter account and forced to accept that he soon must leave office, President Trump has effectively stopped doing his job, delegating daily responsibilities to Vice President Mike Pence while hunkering down with a shrinking group of acquiescent aides and contemplating additional presidential pardons.
Trump had considered leaving the White House before his final day in office Wednesday, even as early as this weekend, but he has opted to depart on the morning of President-elect Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day, according to two people familiar with discussions who cautioned that, with Trump, plans are always subject to change.
Intrigued by the idea of upstaging Biden, the ever self-centered president has requested a major sendoff. It would begin with a throng of cheering, flag-waving staffers and supporters to see him off on the White House’s South Lawn, according to a person familiar with the planning, and continue to a more formal ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, featuring a red carpet, military band, color guard and 21-gun salute. He’ll make his final Air Force One flight to Florida, to take up residence at Mar-a-Lago, his West Palm Beach, Fla., estate.
While Trump is still unwilling to formally concede to Biden directly, or to participate in the traditional show of the peaceful transfer of power by attending his successor’s swearing-in, Pence on Thursday called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and “congratulated her and offered assistance ahead of inauguration,” according to a person familiar with the call.
Pence, his relationship with Trump all but severed now because he refused to abet the president’s efforts to defy the Constitution and overturn the election result, confirmed earlier in the week that he plans to attend Biden’s inauguration. Trump, in one of his final tweets last week, made it clear he would not be going.
Previously, Trump had floated the idea of leaving town early to avoid having to host Biden at the White House before the inauguration ceremonies at the Capitol, as has long been traditional — to provide the time-honored photo of the outgoing and incoming presidents that gives visual definition to America’s peaceful transfer of power. Though he now might stay until Inauguration Day, Trump still has no plans to meet with the president-elect.
His administration this week did extend one traditional courtesy, inviting Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, to stay at Blair House, just across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, on the eve of the inauguration.
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SOURCE: LA Times, Eli Stokols