Trump Just Left Washington for the Final Time as President

“Have a good life. We’ll see you soon.”
Cameron Joseph
Washington, US
President Donald Trump waves as he boards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. Trump is en route to his Mar-a-Lago Florida Resort. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

“Have a good life. We’ll see you soon.”

And with that, President Trump departed Washington for the final time in his administration, a symbolic end to one of the most tumultuous and polarizing presidencies in U.S. history—and potentially the start to a new era of American rancor.

Trump left the White House Wednesday morning just like he came in, a braggadocious, fury-driven and spectacle-focused liar with little regard for anything but himself and his movement.

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He still hasn’t admitted he lost an election in which President-elect Joe Biden defeated him by 7 million votes. Even as he finally wished the next administration well, he couldn’t bring himself to mention Biden’s name.

"We were not a regular administration,” Trump said in his final public remarks as president, one of the few factually accurate statements in his 10-minute speech before a small crowd of family and supporters gathered outside at Andrews Air Force Base.

In both his departing remarks and in a prepared farewell speech released Tuesday, Trump focused heavily on supposed accomplishments while blaming others for his failures. 

As he departed Wednesday, Trump made no mention of his supporters’ violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, even as he joked, “We really worked well with Congress—at least certain elements of Congress.” He was too much of a sore loser to attend Biden’s swearing-in, making him the first president in 152 years who’s refused to attend the next inauguration. And while he mentioned those “who've suffered so greatly from the China virus,” Trump never took any responsibility for the 400,000 Americans who’ve died from the pandemic.

It was a fitting coda to the presidency of a man who made his name in politics pushing a lie that his predecessor wasn’t born in America, won the presidency after a race-baiting campaign, and spent four years exacerbating America’s divisions.

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Trump leaves behind a wounded, grieving, and furious nation riven by racial and sectarian strife and crippled by the coronavirus pandemic. America has the highest per capita COVID-19 death rate in the world, after Trump spent months downplaying the virus. More than 10 million Americans are out of work. And almost 25,000 troops had to be mobilized to ensure that Biden would be sworn in without further incident after a pro-Trump mob ransacked the U.S. Capitol two weeks ago.

Trump leaves office as the only president who’s been impeached twice — the first time for extorting a U.S. ally facing an invading enemy into manufacturing dirt on Joe Biden, and the second time for inciting an angry mob of supporters to attack the Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s election victory.

He is the least popular president in the polling era, and ends his term with a 34 percent rating in Gallup’s final job approval poll

The outgoing president tried to make a big production for himself as he left the White House for the final time, with a 21-gun salute at Joint Base Andrews and a spectacle separate from the traditional inauguration festivities. His team blared his traditional campaign playlist as he departed, with Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” blasting as Air Force One departed for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. 

Trump has made it clear he doesn’t plan to go far. As he departed the White House to board Marine One for the final time as president Wednesday morning, Trump said he hoped it wouldn’t be a “long goodbye.”

“We will be back in some form,” he promised in his remarks at Andrews Air Force Base a bit later.

It remains to be seen whether Trump can maintain his viselike grip on the GOP base without the power of the presidency and his Twitter handle behind him, but whether he runs for president again or not, it’s clear he’ll remain a force within the Republican Party and American politics. And even as he departed, he made it clear he won’t be quiet for long.