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President Trump’s final hours in office expected to be non-traditional



WASHINGTON — In the time remaining in his tumultuous presidency, there are clear signs Donald Trump intends to continue his untraditional ways before he shuts the door and flies south to Florida for life as a private citizen.

As he prepares to leave office President Trump is declining to take a number of historically traditional steps that could help to legitimize his successor’s presidency and he has made clear he has no intention of changing his mind.

First and foremost, he has never formally conceded he lost the election.

“We will never give up,” Trump said at his Jan. 6 rally before the Capitol was stormed. “We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”

And according to the president, you don’t attend your rival’s inauguration. Instead, he will fly home before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in — with an Air Force One departure possibly featuring a ceremonial send-off.

Since the Trumps will be gone it means there will be no traditional White House reception for the Bidens like the one President Eisenhower hosted on Inauguration Day for John. F. Kennedy, or the joint ride up to the Capitol like Franklin Roosevelt’s 1933 trip with the man he trounced, Herbert Hoover.

“It would be terrific if the president of the United States were to say ‘I concede the election and I wish my successor well.’ Would be good for democracy, yes it would be good for democracy,” said Austin Sarat, a professor of law and politics at Amherst College.

“Is it part of being the president of the United States to take an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States? I believe it is. And I think it disappointing and damaging that the president of the United States will not participate in those rituals,” said Sarat.

There also won’t be the standard private tour of the White House living quarters by First Lady Melania Trump for Jill Biden — something like what Laura Bush did for Michelle Obama.

And while the first lady offered a farewell address of her own Monday, there is no indication President Trump will do likewise even though most recent outgoing presidents have.

“These last four years have made me more certain than ever of the inner strength of our country,” former President Jimmy Carter said on Jan. 14, 1981.

One tradition this president does appear ready to continue is the 11th hour use of his pardon power, reportedly for at least 100 people to be announced Tuesday. It remains unclear if he intends to pre-emptively pardon his family members or himself.

Most presidents traditionally leave a personal note for their successor — well-wishes for the future to the new occupant of the Oval Office. It’s another sign of the continuity of government and the sturdiness of American democracy.

It’s not known if President Trump intends to write such a note or if he would want to match the sentiment in president George H.W. Bush’s letter to Bill Clinton — the man who defeated him.

“I wish you well,” Mr. Bush wrote back in 1993. “I wish your family well. Your success now is our country’s success. I’m rooting for you.”

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