Donald Trump has left the White House for the last time as president, ending the most chaotic and divisive presidency in American history.
The one-term president flew away from Washington, D.C., having petulantly refused to attend the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. Early Wednesday morning, Biden announced a list of 17 executive actions he will enforce within hours of taking office as he gets down to the work of reversing some of the damage done by the departing president.
Trump left the White House having been impeached twice—an unprecedented disgrace for a U.S. president. He also oversaw the response to a pandemic that has left over 400,000 Americans dead, and his time in office climaxed in the incitement of a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol. In the dying hours of his presidency, he went on a last-gasp clemency spree and pardoned a list of cronies who made his miserable tenure possible.
Before Trump departed the White House grounds on Marine One, he was heard telling reporters: “Hopefully it’s not a long-term goodbye.”
The president then flew to a pomp-filled ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, where he chuckled as he received a 21-gun salute and then took the stage to lavish praise on his single term. His most prominent enablers over the past four years—such as Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—were notable by their absences. Instead, they were with Biden at a pre-inauguration church service in the capital.
Trump’s speech was rambling, largely uneventful, and very clearly unscripted. CNN reported that Trump’s aides had prepared a speech him that featured “more gracious language” about the transition, but Trump reportedly rejected that speech and winged it instead.
Having learned no lessons from previous criticism, the president complained about the “China virus” and its hit to the U.S. economy. He promised that the economy will record “incredible numbers” after he leaves office, and urged his supporters to “remember us” if there is a dramatic recovery under President-elect Biden.
The outgoing president went on to say he and Melania had “left it all in the field,” predicting that they will have no regrets when they’re sitting alone together in Mar-a-Lago in months to come. To chants of “Thank you, Trump!” Trump praised the small gathered crowd of MAGA diehards and relatives as “amazing people,” and told them: “I will always fight for you. I will be watching, I will be listening, and I will tell you that the future of this country has never been better.”
Trump wished the incoming administration “great luck and great success.” and said he believes they will be successful—thanks to him. He said: “We put [the incoming administration] in a position like it’s never been before, despite the worst plague to hit since... I guess you’d say 1917.” The president did not mention Biden by name—though there are reports that Trump left a note to his successor at the White House.
Trump signed off his unremarkable speech by saying: “Have a good life, we will see you soon.” “YMCA” then blasted out as he departed the stage, and boarded the presidential plane for the last time.
Then Air Force One hit the runway, with Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” blasting, and took to the skies for one last trip to a Trump property.