'We will be back in some form,' Trump vows at end of tumultuous presidency

Washington - Trump told supporters before boarding Air Force One for the flight to Florida.

By Reuters

Published: Wed 20 Jan 2021, 10:50 PM

President Donald Trump disappeared on Wednesday behind the walls of his club in Palm Beach, Florida, ending a tumultuous presidency stained by two impeachments, deep political divisions, and a pandemic that has caused 400,000 US deaths.

Also read: Biden sworn in as 46th US President

The Republican president departed the White House with his wife, Melania, saying it had been a great honor to serve and giving a final wave as he boarded the Marine One helicopter for Joint Base Andrews, where he delivered farewell remarks.

"So just a goodbye. We love you. We will be back in some form," Trump told supporters before boarding Air Force One for the flight to Florida. "Have a good life. We will see you soon."

The plane then taxied and lifted off as Frank Sinatra's classic song "My Way" played over the loudspeakers. Air Force One later flew low to give Trump an aerial view of his post-presidential home at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.

Before leaving the White House, Trump left a note for his successor, Democrat Joe Biden, a spokesman said, following one small bit of traditional protocol related to the peaceful transfer of power that Trump had otherwise eschewed. Trump has declined to mention Biden's name even as he wished the incoming administration luck on his way out of office.

Trump, 74, departed hours before Biden's inauguration. That made him the first outgoing president since 1869 to skip the Inauguration Day ceremony that marks the formal transfer of power, in a final display of pique at his failure to win the Nov. 3 election.

Trump's motorcade slow-rolled past a long line of supporters on his way to Mar-a-Lago. His arrival there was timed to get behind its walls before his term as president expired at noon.

"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 said in his farewell remarks. "I wish the new administration great luck and great success. I think they'll have great success. They have the foundation to do something really spectacular."

Trump has a long way to go to rebuild an image left in tatters by his presidency, particularly the final months. He has a unique place in history - as the only president ever impeached twice.

The Senate is on track to hold a trial on the impeachment charge brought by the Democratic-led House of Representatives that Trump incited an insurrection in connection with the Jan. 6 deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol by his supporters. Its outcome could determine whether he will be disqualified from running again for president.

"He is going to be an asterisk president, a one-termer who did more damage than good," said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley.

Trump maintained to his last days in office that the election was stolen from him, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Courts have rejected his campaign's unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud and his vice president, Mike Pence, led Congress in certifying Biden's victory over Trump's objections.

The Washington that Trump left behind was guarded by 25,000 National Guard troops, while the National Mall, traditionally thronged with spectators on Inauguration Day, was closed to the public because of threats of further violence.

While preoccupied with fighting the election results, Trump failed to control the spiraling coronavirus outbreak in the United States, which has the most deaths of any country. Pandemic-related shutdowns and restrictions have also cost millions of Americans their jobs.

Trump on Wednesday acknowledged the suffering caused by the pandemic. He had downplayed the risks of the coronavirus in the pandemic's early stages and did not model consistent wearing of a mask to stop its spread.

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