| 1.7°C Dublin

'I'll be back' - Trump's vow after 4 years of mayhem

Close

Donald and wife Melania Trump walk to board Marine One

Donald and wife Melania Trump walk to board Marine One

Donald and wife Melania Trump walk to board Marine One

Donald Trump left Washington for the final time yesterday morning with a melancholy farewell - and a vow to return to the political arena.

Although he had imagined a showy military send-off, those dreams were dashed as only a modest crowd of a few hundred aides and loyalists showed up at Joint Base Andrews to see him off.

"This is a great, great country. It is my greatest honour and privilege to have been your president," Mr Trump said, as his audience chanted: "Thank you, Trump."

"I will always fight for you. I will be watching. I will be listening," Mr Trump added.

"And I will tell you that the future of this country has never been better. I wish the new administration great luck and great success.

Spectacular

"I think they'll have great success. They have the foundation to do something really spectacular."

As he concluded his remarks, he vowed: "We will be back in some form. Have a good life."

Mr Trump and first lady Melania boarded Air Force One shortly before 9am for their final flight on the presidential aircraft, en route to West Palm Beach, Florida.

They will take up residence in Palm Beach at Mr Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club.  

For all his love of a spectacle, yesterday's farewell event had more of a feel of a county fair than a big-budget extravaganza.

In a Trumpian twist, the music that played as he ended his remarks was the Village People's YMCA, a sing-along staple from his boisterous political rallies.

Then, as Air Force One began to roll on the tarmac, Frank Sinatra's My Way blared from the loudspeakers.

Guests included outgoing White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, for- mer White House physician and now Representative Ronny Jackson and other current and former aides including former press secretary Sean Spicer.

The Trumps were also joined by members of his family, including daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, both senior White House advisers.

Noticeably absent from the send-off were the three elected Republicans who had worked most closely with him - vice president Mike Pence, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy.

All three instead attended Joe Biden's inauguration, which Mr Trump decided not to attend, bucking the traditional transfer of power.

On a chilly winter morning, Mr Trump and the first lady walked out of the White House residence for the final time.

The president told reporters that serving had been the "honour of a lifetime", and as he said farewell he noted that it hopefully would not be a long goodbye.

The Trumps then boarded Marine One, which lifted off the South Lawn at 8.17am and flew over a fortified city that looked like a war zone amid threats of another insurrection by Trump supporters.

Mr Trump released a farewell video on Tuesday in which he noted the arrival of a new administration and wished it luck, but did not mention Mr Biden by name, nor did he concede or directly address his own defeat.

Instead, he touted his record as president and declared that "the movement we started is only just beginning".

Mr Trump leaves as the nation reached the grim milestone of 400,000 dead, with tens of thousands more deaths expected before the corona- virus pandemic subsides.

A crowd of a few hundred supporters mostly filed in ahead of Mr Trump's arrival, standing shoulder to shoulder in front of the stage despite public health recommendations against close contact with others, even outdoors.

Most in the crowd wore face masks, a change from Trump campaign events and some high-profile gatherings at the White House dubbed super-spreader events.

In one of his final acts as president, Mr Trump granted pardons early yesterday morning to 143 people, including former White House strategist Stephen Bannon and other well-connected celebrities, as well as non-violent drug offenders.

However, despite his interest in doing so, Mr Trump ultimately did not pre-emptively pardon himself or members of his immediate family.

Accused

On the eve of Mr Trump's departure, Mr McConnell pointedly accused him of having provoked the violent mob that stormed the US Capitol on January 6.

Nonetheless, in his taped farewell address, Mr Trump tried to cast his presidency as one marked by a bipartisan spirit.

He condemned the violence but did not address his role in urging his supporters to march on the seat of the national legislature in his name.

He also did not retract his false claim that the November 3 election was rigged.

Mr Trump had announced earlier this month that he would not attend Mr Biden's swearing-in.

Mr Biden said the decision was one of the few things he and Mr Trump agreed on.


Privacy