‘Have a good life, we’ll see you soon’: Trump departs White House after one tumultuous term
One-term President Donald Trump, after four divisive and tumultuous years in office, delivered a self-congratulatory farewell speech Wednesday after departing the White House for a final time.
Trump and first lady Melania Trump stopped for photos and waved at the assembled media before the couple walked alone across the White House lawn. In a nod to future plans, the Republican president told reporters, “I just want to say goodbye but hopefully it’s not a long-term goodbye. We’ll see each other again.”
He leaves two weeks after the U.S. Capitol rioting by his supporters, who descended on the building after an incendiary speech by the president.
The couple exited the White House at 8:13 a.m, climbing aboard the Marine One chopper for a final ride on Air Force One, the last official act of his presidency. They landed 14 minutes later for a departure that felt like a campaign rally, replete with a 21-gun salute, a red carpet and the playing of “Hail to the Chief.”
With several American flags blowing in the wind as his backdrop, Trump praised his administration’s efforts while laying blame for America’s 400,000 pandemic deaths on “the China virus” and hinting at a return despite his convincing November defeat by incoming President Joe Biden.
“This has been an incredible four years,” he said to cheers as his sons Donald Jr. and Eric stood with their sister Ivanka. “We’ve accomplished so much ... It’s been something very special.”
His departure from Washington came a little less than four hours before his successor is sworn in as the nation’s 46th president. The outgoing commander-in-chief will not attend, making Trump the first president in 152 years to snub the incoming president.
The soon-to-be ex-president did not mention Biden by name, and referenced the millions of votes cast for him in November while ignoring the fact that Biden received millions more.
“I wish the new administration great luck and great success,” said Trump, speaking off the cuff. “Goodbye, we love you, we will be back in some form.” Just before leaving the dais, he told his supporters and staffers, “Have a good life, we’ll see you soon”
Trump and his wife then left for an Air Force One flight to Florida as the Village People’s “YMCA” played incongruously in the background.
As the plane took off, Frank Sinatra’s version of “My Way” played as a backdrop.
Trump, in the weeks after his defeat, refused to participate in any of the usual passing-of-the-torch traditions associated with the change of White House power. Biden and then-President Barack Obama both welcomed the incoming Trump administration four years ago.
Trump’s divisive Washington legacy included a pair of impeachments, the GOP’s loss of the presidency and Congress, his refusal to accept the election results and the U.S. deaths attributed to COVID-19.
Since Biden’s November victory, the president focused almost entirely on a last-ditch losing effort to overturn the election results — culminating in the Jan. 6 rally outside the White House where Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, with five people killed during the insurrection.
Biden, joined by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, will be sworn in at noon as Trump settles into his private Mar-a-Lago club in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Vice President Mike Pence, who drew Trump’s ire by refusing to back his bogus claim of a rigged election, was among those opting to skip the farewell events at the White House and the air force base.
Trump, after emerging as the GOP’s kingmaker during his term, leaves D.C. at a nadir in his presidency. If he is convicted by the Senate in his impeachment trial, Trump could be barred from seeking a second term. He’s also banned from Twitter, where Trump spoke directly to millions of fans and followers.
Reports indicated the Trump spent his last weeks in office stewing over his November defeat while becoming consumed with what he called the “rigged” election. Trump has lashed out at Republicans deemed disloyal to his cause, remaining angry and embarrassed by his one-sided loss to Biden.
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