Pence attends Biden inauguration after skipping Trump’s farewell event

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Gustaf Kilander
·4 min read
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Donald Trump and Mike Pence are set to be replaced on Wednesday (EPA-EFE)
Donald Trump and Mike Pence are set to be replaced on Wednesday (EPA-EFE)

Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence arrived at Joe Biden’s inauguration after skipping Donald Trump’s sendoff event at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

Mr Pence has taken on a more senior role as Mr Trump stepped back from the official duties of his office since his election loss in November.

As President Trump left the White House for the last time, his vice president was nowhere to be seen.

Mike Pence did not meet with the outgoing president on inauguration morning, according to reports.

This comes after multiple claims that the two men fell out after the riot at the Capitol. Rioters came within a minute of seeing the vice president rushing through a corridor with his Secret Service detail.

Mr Trump was said to be furious with Mr Pence for refusing to help him overturn his election loss to Joe Biden, something which the vice president didn’t have the constitutional ability to do.

Fueled by the president’s frustration, his supporters stormed the US Capitol, forcing Mr Pence and other lawmakers to seek shelter. The president reportedly didn’t call to check in on Mr Pence during the riot, even as rioters made it clear that they were looking for Mr Pence, possibly to cause him serious harm.

Mr Pence posted a farewell message on Twitter with a number of pictures, none of which included the president.

Republican leaders were invited to Mr Trump’s farewell event at Joint Base Andrews before he flies to Florida, his last flight on Air Force One as president.

But none of the major players chose to attend as Mr Trump is on the verge of becoming politically toxic even on the Republican side of the aisle. Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said the mob that attacked the Capitol were “fed lies” and that “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people". Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters”.

Mr Pence will attend the inauguration of Joe Biden, hours after Mr Trump has already left Washington.

In the weeks and months after the election, Mr Trump has faded from the job of being president as Mr Pence has stepped into that role, performing many of the tasks usually reserved for the president.

On Thursday last week, Mr Pence visited the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be briefed on the security surrounding the inauguration of Joe Biden. On Sunday, he flew to New York to spend some time with troops and express his gratitude. He made a stop at the Capitol to thank the National Guard troops protecting the inauguration proceedings. On the day before the inauguration, Mr Pence chaired his final meeting of the White House Coronavirus taskforce.

Presidential historian Lindsay Chervinsky told The Washington Post that “The fact that we’re seeing this, and it’s because Trump has no interest in participating in the traditional activities of the presidency, is just another way in which Trump is showing his utter dereliction of duty".

According to The Washington Post, despite the reported acrimony between the two men, Mr Pence and Mr Trump met in person on Thursday and spoke on the phone on Friday.

Mr Pence is often mentioned among the numerous candidates who are thought to want to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. Republican pollster Frank Luntz found that while most Republicans still prefer Mr Trump, if he is not an option, most prefer Mr Pence.

In a poll of 800 Trump voters days after the attack on the Capitol, 34 per cent said they preferred the Vice President. 14 per cent said they liked Texas Senator Ted Cruz best, The Washington Post reported.

Donald Trump Jr and former UN ambassador and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley both got 7 per cent in the poll.