POLITICS

Pence, McConnell To Skip Trump Departure Ceremony For Biden Inauguration Events

Republican leaders in Congress will reportedly attend church with Biden instead of witnessing Trump's formal send-off at Joint Base Andrews.

The country’s top Republicans will skip President Donald Trump’s departure ceremony in Maryland on Wednesday in favor of attending inaugural activities with President-elect Joe Biden, according to multiple reports.

Vice President Mike Pence is not expected to be present at the Trump send-off at Joint Base Andrews but will attend Biden’s inauguration ceremony, reported The Washington Post and CNN.

Sources close to Pence told the outlets it would be logistically challenging for Pence to attend both events. Trump’s departure ceremony is scheduled for 8 a.m. at the military base, which is located about 11 miles southeast of Capitol Hill, where Biden is set to be sworn into office several hours later.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) have accepted Biden’s invitation to attend Mass at a church in Washington around 8:45 a.m., Axios reported. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are also expected to join.

Trump has fallen out of favor with some Republicans after he inspired hundreds of his followers to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6., resulting in violence that left at least five people dead.

Leading up to the Capitol riot, Trump repeatedly lied that Democrats had “rigged” the election against him and that voter fraud was rampant. The Justice Department and election officials nationwide have rejected those claims.

Trump also called on Pence to overturn the election results during the joint congressional session to certify the electoral votes ― a gathering that was interrupted for several hours as pro-Trump rioters attacked the Capitol.

“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution,” Trump tweeted after his supporters breached the Capitol, sending the seat of the U.S. government into lockdown. “USA demands the truth!”

During a speech from the Senate floor Tuesday, McConnell said Trump had “provoked” the Capitol riot, shedding new light on his thoughts as the Senate’s impeachment trial approaches.

“The mob was fed lies,” McConnell said. “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like.”

Trump has reportedly requested a military-style sendoff featuring a military band and a red carpet lined with military personnel. He has opted not to attend Biden’s inauguration, making him the first president in over 150 years to skip an incoming president’s swearing-in ceremony.

Anthony Scaramucci, who briefly served as White House communications director in 2017 before becoming an outspoken Trump critic, told CNN that he had received an invitation to the president’s departure ceremony but did not plan to attend. He told the outlet that his invitation suggested the White House was seeking to beef up attendance.

John Kelly, Trump’s former White House chief of staff, has also reportedly declined an invitation to the send-off.