Posted on Sat 16 Jan 2021, 06:12 AM

US President Donald Trump will leave Washington on Wednesday morning, hours before the inauguration of his Democratic successor Joe Biden, an official said Friday on condition of anonymity.

The outgoing president, who already announced he would not attend the swearing-in, will fly to his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, where he intends to stay.

After two months of refusing to acknowledge his defeat in the November 3 election, Trump finally promised a transition in recent days, but never congratulated Biden.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic and last week's attack by Trump supporters on Congress, Biden's team and Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser have asked Americans to avoid the Capitol area and the city's downtown and watch the inauguration ceremony from their computers and TVs.

US presidential inaugurations are generally attended by hundreds of thousands of people who pack onto the National Mall, but officials have closed the immense lawn due to security concerns.

– Inauguration like no other –

Trump’s extraordinary exit adds to the nervous atmosphere around an inauguration that was already set to be like no other.

In the wake of the Congress attack, thousands of National Guard troops have taken up position around central Washington. And even before the security nightmare, organizers had been forced by Covid-19 safety measures to nix the traditional big crowds and long guest lists.

For Biden, the subdued ceremonies will quickly be followed by a mammoth To-Do list.

His administration faces multiple crises on day one, including the stumbling national Covid vaccination project, a precarious economic recovery and Trump’s looming impeachment trial in the Senate.

At the same time, Biden will have to cajole the Senate into rapidly confirming his cabinet appointees, allowing him to form a government and bring stability back to the country.

Incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday that the Senate is fully capable of juggling the impeachment trial along with the urgent confirmations.

“The Senate can do its constitutional duty while continuing to conduct the business of the people,” she said.
“Our expectation and hope and belief is that we need to walk and chew gum at the same time.”



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