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Seemingly abandoning Trump, Pence said planning to attend Biden inauguration

Reports say US vice president has decided to attend January 20 ceremony; incoming president says he’d be ‘honored to have him there’

US Vice President Mike Pence listens after reading the final certification of Electoral College votes cast in November's presidential election during a joint session of Congress after working through the night, at the Capitol in Washington, January 7, 2021. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
US Vice President Mike Pence listens after reading the final certification of Electoral College votes cast in November's presidential election during a joint session of Congress after working through the night, at the Capitol in Washington, January 7, 2021. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

WASHINGTON — Mike Pence will attend the upcoming inauguration of Joe Biden, multiple media reports said Saturday, the vice president becoming the latest longtime loyalist to abandon an increasingly isolated US President Donald Trump.

Relations between Trump and Pence — who was previously one of the mercurial president’s staunchest defenders — have nosedived since Wednesday, when the vice president formally announced Biden’s victory in November’s election.

A mob of far-right demonstrators stormed the US Capitol the same day in a failed bid to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s win, in a riot blamed on Trump that left five dead.

Multiple media reports on Saturday cited senior administration officials as saying that Pence — who was forced to take shelter from the intruders during the riot — had decided to attend Biden’s inauguration on January 20.

Preparations take place for US President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on the West Front of the US Capitol in Washington, Jan. 8, 2021, after supporters of US President Donald Trump stormed the building. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The president-elect earlier in the week said Pence would be welcome at his formal swearing-in, due to take place in a scaled-down format due to the coronavirus.

“I think it’s important that as much as we can stick to what have been the historical precedents of how an administration changes should be maintained,” Biden told reporters.

“We’d be honored to have him there, and to move forward in the transition.”

Trump said on Friday he would not attend the inauguration.

US President Donald Trump arrives in the early morning hours, Jan. 5, 2021, at the White House in Washington, after returning from a rally in Dalton, Georgia (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The outgoing president has been accused of provoking Wednesday’s violence, and now faces an unprecedented second impeachment, expected to begin on Monday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that Democrats would launch the process unless Trump resigned or Pence invoked the 25th Amendment, in which the cabinet removes the president from office.

While Pence has not spoken publicly on the subject, the New York Times reported Thursday he was against invoking the mechanism, never used before in US history.

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