News World US ‘No farewell’: Pentagon denies Trump final military spectacle
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‘No farewell’: Pentagon denies Trump final military spectacle

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The grand spectacle of a US Armed Forces Farewell is a custom dating back to the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidential term in 1989, when he famously thanked the military “on behalf of all America”.

Since then, each commander-in-chief has been given a similar tribute as they leave office.

But in a major break with tradition, President Donald Trump will receive no such honour when his term ends this week.

US defence and national security website Defense One broke the news there will be no grand military spectacle, no 21-gun salute for the 45th president of the US, as his request was rejected by the Pentagon.

“Two senior defence officials confirmed to Defense One on Thursday [January 14] that no military farewell is being planned for the commander in chief,” the website wrote.

In a January 16 letter from Congresswoman Jackson Lee and several colleagues to senior Pentagon officials, Ms Lee reinforced their “strong objection” that any resources be diverted towards “a disruptive departure ceremony”.

It wasn’t clear where the military parade would have taken place – at the White House, the Joint Base Andrews or in Palm Beach.

What is certain is that Mr Trump’s term officially ends at midday on January 20 – a time that multiple media reports suggest he will most likely be at his Mar-a-Lago club in South Florida, or playing golf.

Last week, Mr Trump became the first president in US history to be impeached twice.

The House of Representatives impeached accused him of inciting an insurrection against Congress after a violent mob of pro-Trump supporters attacked the Capitol just after he held a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally.

Five people died during the riots, including one police officer. Dozens were injured and many more were identified and charged by FBI investigators, who also added many to no-fly lists.

The Senate trial to determine whether to remove Mr Trump will not begin until January 19, his final full day in office. That means any conviction would almost certainly not be completed until after he has left the White House.

While President-elect Joe Biden celebrates his inauguration with the cream of the crop on January 20 after spending the night before at a nearby hotel, Mr Trump is expected to lay low.

The theme of the inauguration event – closed to the public because of the pandemic and the earlier violence at the Capitol – will be “America United”. Organisers say it “will honour inaugural traditions while safely allowing more Americans than ever before to participate from their own homes”.

Mr Biden will be sworn in on the steps of the Capitol building, with two aides promising the ceremony will be a safe, outdoor event despite ongoing security threats.

Mr Trump will break with another long-standing tradition. He has said he will no not attend any of the inauguration celebrations, declining an invitation despite it being usual for incumbents to welcome the new president.

He has also declined to participate in any of the customary hand-over rituals, and is still yet to concede he lost the November presidential election.

Former US president Barack Obama congratulates Donald Trump on his inauguration in 2017. Photo: Getty

A top spokesperson for Mr Biden, Kate Bedington has revealed more details about the upcoming inauguration.

“Our plan and our expectation is that President-elect Biden will put his hand on the Bible, with his family, outside, on the west side of the Capitol,” she said.

Members of the National Guard sleep in the US Capitol building as further unrest is predicted.

According to Ms Bedington, holding the inauguration outdoors on the steps of the very building that was attacked by Trump’s supporters has symbolic value.

“I think that will send an incredibly important visual image to the world about the resilience of American democracy,” she said.

Washington is facing tight security measures, with areas around the city centre, including the National Mall, shut down and thousands of National Guard troops deployed to the capital city amid fears of more violence.

Fences have been erected, cement blocks laid down and heavy trucks used to block traffic along main streets of the capital and arteries around the city, amid what the FBI called “online chatter” of potential attacks by Trump loyalists.

Incoming White House chief of staff Ronald Klain said while the threats were concerning, he was confident the Secret Service would “keep the inauguration itself safe”.

Mr Klain admitted Mr Biden was “inheriting a huge mess” from Mr Trump with regards to the virus and that tackling the pandemic will be the top priority.

-with agencies