WASHINGTON – Donald Trump raised his fist and waved as he left the White House on Wednesday from Marine One for the last time as president, leaving behind a legacy of chaos and uproar and a bitterly divided nation.
Four years after taking the stage at his own inauguration and painting a disastrous picture of ‘American carnage’, Trump has left the office twice indicted, with millions more out of work and 400,000 dead from the coronavirus.
Republicans under his leadership lost the presidency and both houses of Congress. He will be forever remembered for the last major act of his presidency: inciting an insurgency on Capitol Hill that left five dead, including a Capitol police officer, and horrified the nation.
“It was a great honor, the honor of a lifetime. The tallest people in the world, the tallest house in the world, ”Trump told reporters before heading to Marine One, rotors whirring, on South Lawn.
“We love the American people, and again this has been something very special. And I just want to say goodbye, but I hope it’s not a long term goodbye. We’ll see each other again.”
Trump will be the first president in modern history to boycott his successor’s inauguration as he continues to be wary of his loss and privately maintains the election President-elect Joe Biden has rightly won for him. stolen. Republican officials from several critical states, members of his own administration and a wide range of judges, including those appointed by Trump, have rejected these arguments.
Yet Trump has refused to participate in any of the symbolic torch-passing traditions surrounding the peaceful transition of power, including inviting the Bidens on a visit to know you.
Marine One was heading towards Joint Base Andrews where Air Force One was stationed, a dramatic setting against the backdrop of the rising sun. A red carpet was placed on the tarmac so Trump could walk as he boarded the plane. Four U.S. Army guns waited to deliver a 21-gun salute to the president, and hundreds of supporters greeted Trump at Andrews. By the time Biden is sworn in, Trump will have already landed at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla. To face an uncertain future.
Aides had urged Trump to spend his last days in power trying to save his legacy by highlighting his administration’s accomplishments – by passing tax cuts, cutting federal regulations, normalizing relations in the Middle East.
But Trump largely refused, making just one trip to the Texas border and posting a video in which he promised his supporters that “the movement we have started is just beginning.” In his final hours, Trump has granted pardons to more than 140 people, including his former strategist, rap artists, former members of Congress and other allies of him and his family.
Trump will retire in Florida along with a small group of former White House aides as he charts a political future that looks very different now than just two weeks ago.
Before the Capitol Riot, Trump was expected to remain the de facto leader of his party, wielding enormous power as he served as kingmaker and prepared for a presidential election in 2024.
But now he seems more helpless than ever – shunned by so many members of his party, twice indicted, denied the Twitter megaphone he intended to use as a weapon, and even faced with the prospect that, if convicted during his Senate trial, he could be barred from running for a second term.
For now, Trump remains angry and embarrassed, consumed with rage and grievance. He spent the week after the election sinking deeper and deeper into a world of conspiracy, and those who spoke to him say he still believes he won in November. He continues to lash out at Republicans for perceived disloyalty and has threatened, both publicly and privately, to spend the next few years supporting major challenges against those he said betrayed him.
Some expect him to end up turning completely against the Republican Party, perhaps flirting with a run as a third-party candidate as an act of revenge.
Despite all the chaos and drama and bending the world to his will, Trump ended his tenure the way he started: largely alone. The Republican Party he co-opted finally seemed to have had enough after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, looking for lawmakers who refused to side with Trump’s unconstitutional efforts to reverse Trump’s results. a democratic election.
White House cleaning crews worked Wednesday night and were still on their way as the sun rose to clean the building and prepare it for its new occupants. In what will be the office of incoming press secretary Jen Psaki, a computer keyboard and mouse on her desk were wrapped in plastic.
A black moving van had backed up to the west wing entrance door, where the presence of a single Marine Guard usually signals the President is in the Oval Office.
Most of the walls were stripped down to the hooks that once held photographs, and the desks were devoid of the clutter and knickknacks that brought them to life. At least one junior assistant’s face was streaked with tears as she left the building one last time.
But although Trump has left the White House, he retains his grip on the Republican base, with the support of millions of loyal voters, as well as allies who still help the Republican National Committee and many state party organizations.
The city he is leaving will not be missed. Trump rarely left the confines of the White House except to visit his own hotel. He and his wife have never dined at any other local restaurant; never ventured to shop in its stores or visit the sites. When he left, it was almost always at one of his properties: his golf course in Virginia, his golf course in New Jersey, his private club and a nearby golf course in Palm Beach, Florida.
The city overwhelmingly supported Biden, with 93% of the vote. Trump received only 5.4% of the vote – or less than 18,600 ballots – not enough to fill the Washington Capitals hockey arena.