Pence and GOP leaders to skip Trump’s farewell event

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Republican leaders are skipping President Trump’s farewell event to instead attend church with incoming President Joe Biden on the day of his inauguration.

Senate Majority Leader, soon-to-be Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will both attend church with Mr Biden, Axios reports. It’s a snub symbolising a possible GOP establishment break with Donald Trump and a sign of unity for the country.

Vice President Mike Pence is also skipping Mr Trump’s event but is reportedly not going to attend church with Mr Biden. Washington Post White House reporter Josh Dawsey tweeted that attending both Mr Trump’s event and Mr Biden’s inauguration would be logistically challenging for Mr Pence.

Mr Trump’s sendoff will take place at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. He has requested the event to include the military, with a band and maybe a flyover.

The Catholic service that will be attended by Mr Biden and congressional leaders will take place at St Matthew’s church about 10 blocks from the White House in Washington, DC, and is expected to begin at 8.45am, according to Axios. Mr Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States on the steps of the Capitol building at noon.

Read more: Follow live updates and news on Inauguration Day 2021

Dozens of administration officials, including several who have left the administration and some who have been very critical of Mr Trump, have been invited to his farewell event, CNN reports.

Former chief of staff John Kelly received an invitation despite recently telling CNN that he would vote to remove the President from office. Mr Kelly has chosen not to attend the event, as has former White House counsel Don McGahn who also received an invite. Mr McGahn frustrated the President when he cooperated with Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Watch: Trump faces 2nd impeachment unless Pence invokes 25th Amendment, Dems. say

Read more: How to watch Joe Biden’s inauguration

Former communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who spent only 10 days in the White House, was also invited. Speaking to Inside Edition, Mr Scaramucci said: “Trust me, that had to be a mass email if one of them got sent to me."

Junior staff who have never interacted with the president have also received invitations.

ABC News senior congressional correspondent Mary Bruce told Inside Edition: “The president wants a big send-off with lots of flair. We've heard that he wants to be surrounded by uniformed military at Joint Base Andrews. There'll be a military band. He wants a red carpet. We’ve even heard that he may be flanked by troops as he boards Air Force One for the final time. And there may even be an Air Force fighter jet flyover.”

The invite says each guest may RSVP five people as the White House hopes a big crowd will attend.

As former allies of President Trump skip his farewell event, some of them are also saying he’s responsible for the Capitol riots. Mr McConnell said on the Senate floor that the mob that attacked the Capitol “was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people".

Mr Trump’s former Attorney General Bill Barr told ITV that it was the debate about the integrity of the election that “precipitated the riots on the Hill”.

“I'm sad to see, but not surprised in a way to see, the kind of violence we saw on Capitol Hill. I consider it despicable, and – I was not Attorney General, I had already left office when that occurred – but I felt that they should move very quickly to disperse that crowd, regardless of which side of the political spectrum is involved,” he said.

“I think it's always important to remember most people are exercising their First Amendment rights but there is a substantial group obviously that went far beyond that and broke into the Capitol and tried to interfere with the proceedings and that's unacceptable."

Watch: Inside Congress as mayhem descended

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