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Trump: We will be back

Trump: We will be back
U.S. President Donald Trump walks next to first lady Melania Trump as they arrive at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, January 20, 2021. (Reuters)

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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump left the White House and Washington for a final time as commander-in-chief on Wednesday after a tumultuous presidency stained by two impeachments, deep political divisions, and a pandemic that caused 400 000 U.S. deaths.

The Republican president departed the White House with his wife, Melania, saying it had been a great honour 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 a 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.

Trump: We will be back
U.S. President Donald Trump walks next to first lady Melania Trump as he departs from the Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., January 20, 2021. (Reuters)

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 has otherwise eschewed. He has declined to mention Biden’s name even as he wished the incoming administration luck on his way out of office.

Trump, 74, bade his farewell hours before Biden’s inauguration. That made him the first outgoing president since Andrew Johnson in 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 re-election in November.

Trump later landed in Florida and was driven to his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, timed to get behind the wall of the resort before his term as president expires at noon.

In his remarks, Trump wished luck to Biden’s administration but again declined to mention his successor by name.

“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 final public 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 stormy presidency, particularly the final months. Trump now has a unique place in history – as the only president ever impeached twice.

Even after he leaves office, the Senate is still 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 November 3 election was stolen from him, according to sources familiar with the situation. (Reuters)

Trump: We will be back
Members of the Trump family, including Donald Jr, Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, attend the departure ceremony of U.S. president Donald Trump. (Reuters)