Donald Trump departs White House for final time

Donald Trump has left the White House for the last time as president, before speaking at a military send-off at Joint Base Andrews and flying to his resort in Florida.

Donald Trump and First Lady Melania make their way to board Marine One, leaving the White House for the final time.
Donald and Melania Trump depart the White House. Photo: AFP

Trump departed with his wife Melania hours before Democrat Joe Biden prepared to assume the presidency.

At the send-off event Trump promised supporters “we’ll be back in some form” and extolled his administration’s successes before flying off to Florida.

Top Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence, were not there to see him go.

Biden arrived at the Capitol just before 10.30am for his inauguration after a visit to church, where he was joined in a show of unity by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and House of Representatives Republican leader Kevin McCarthy.

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Trump flouted one last convention on his way out. His refusal to attend his successor’s swearing-in breaks with more than a century and a half of political tradition, seen as a way of affirming the peaceful transfer of power.

The president did, however, leave a customary note for Biden in the Oval Office, according to a White House official, though it was not yet known what it said.

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania make their way to board Marine One before departing from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on January 20, 2021.
Donald and Melania Trump walk to Marine One helicopter before leaving from the South Lawn of the White House. Photo: AFP

In his final remarks as president on Wednesday, Trump listed his successes, including the “medical miracle” that yielded a coronavirus vaccine in less than a year, and said serving as president was his “greatest honor.” He did not mention Biden by name.

Concluding his speech, President Donald Trump said it had been the “greatest honour” to be president. Addressing supporters, he said he would “always fight for you” and will be “watching and listening” and pledges to be back in some capacity.

He also wished the new administration “great success” for the future – but did not address Joe Biden or Kamala Harris by name.

“Have a good life – we will see you soon,” Trump said before boarding Air Force One to head to his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

He issued more than 140 pardons and commutations in his final hours in office, including a pardon for his former political adviser, Steve Bannon, who has pleaded not guilty to fraud charges.

But Trump did not issue preemptive pardons for himself or members of his family, after speculation that he might do so.

– Reuters / BBC

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