Presidential historian: Trump skipping inauguration ‘shameful’

President Donald Trump’s refusal to attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration and participate in the peaceful transfer of power is “shameful,” according to a local presidential historian.

Allan Lichtman, distinguished history professor at American University, told WTOP Wednesday that Trump’s decision to not participate in the peaceful transfer of power following the election goes against the rituals the United States set following its creation.


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“President Trump has already smashed through these traditions by basely and needlessly attacking the election, impeding the transition and now, refusing to attend the inauguration,” said Lichtman. “And he’s never called Biden or conceded the election. It’s shameful.”

Trump becomes the fourth president in history to boycott his successor’s inauguration. He left the White House Wednesday morning via helicopter to Joint Base Andrews for a ceremony and final remarks before heading off to his residence in Florida.

The United States, Lichtman said, is a young democratic country that does not take directives from a monarchy but is bound together by certain rituals. Trump’s actions goes against what Lichtman calls the most important ritual of them all, “the peaceful, orderly and corporative transfer of power, which is symbolized by the incoming and outgoing president together at the inauguration.”

When asked about the security situation ahead of Biden’s inauguration, Lichtman said the only comparable comparison was the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1861. Seven southern states had seceded after his election and it was a month before the start of the American Civil War

“Security was incredibly tight,” Lichtman said. “There were talks about Lincoln’s possible assassination, and he had to sneak into the Capitol, under cover of darkness; not a good look again so many years later.”

Thousands of National Guard troops guarded the U.S. Capitol during Biden’s inauguration ceremony after a riot on its grounds on Jan. 6. Fencing surrounded the National Mall, and several streets were closed off for security reasons.

Jose Umana

Jose Umana is a digital writer/editor at WTOP. He joined WTOP in 2020.

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