Trump leaves Washington, says 'It's been a great honor'

Associated Press contributed to this report
Updated: January 20, 2021 08:41 PM
Created: January 20, 2021 07:51 AM

WASHINGTON - His term at an end, President Donald Trump has said farewell to Washington, but he also has hinted about a comeback despite a legacy of chaos, tumult and bitter divisions in the country he led for four years. Trump spoke to supporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland where he walked across a red carpet and boarded Air Force One to head to Florida.

He said: “So just a goodbye. We love you.” And the 45th president added, "We will be back in some form.”

Trump departs office as the only president ever impeached twice, and with millions more out of work than when he was sworn in and 400,000 dead from the coronavirus. 

Trump left the White House for the final time as president after 8 a.m. this morning, spoking briefly to aides and supporters and said, "It’s been a great honor.” For one last time, President Trump and First Lady Melania, boarded Marine One, to head to Joint Base Andrews in suburban Maryland, where he’ll have a military sendoff.

RELATED STORY: Farewell Address of President Donald J Trump from Tuesday

At Joint Base Andrews, a military band played “All Hail the Chief” as Trump walked onto a small stage, lined with American flags, and up to a lectern bearing the presidential seal. He praised his own family -- whom he put into positions of power, breaking with presidential norms -- and singled out first lady Melania Trump -- known for her privacy -- to say a few words. 

Four U.S. Army cannons are set up for a 21-gun salute. Trump then flies to Florida, where he’ll stay at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump is leaving Washington just hours before Joe Biden takes the oath of office.  It’s the first time in more than a century that a sitting president has rejected the tradition of attending his successor’s inauguration.

Earlier this morning, President Donald Trump pardoned former chief strategist Steve Bannon as part of a late flurry of clemency action benefiting nearly 150 people, including rap stars and former members of Congress. The pardons and commutations for 143 people, including Bannon, were announced after midnight Wednesday in the final hours of Trump’s White House term.

The president pardoned former Google engineer, Anthony Levandowski, who plead guilty to stealing trade secrets before joining Uber’s effort to build robotic vehicles for its ride-hailing service.  Levandowski was sentenced to 18 months in prison in August. He was also ordered to pay more than $850,000.

The last-minute clemency, announced earlier Wednesday morning, follows separate waves of pardons over the last month for Trump associates convicted in the FBI’s Russia investigation as well as for the father of his son-in-law.

One name missing in the flurry of pardons is “Tiger King” Joe Exotic. The zookeeper-turned-reality-TV-star is now serving a 22-year federal prison sentence in Texas. His backers were so confident in a pardon that they readied a limousine and a hair and wardrobe team for Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage. But he wasn’t on the list announced Wednesday morning. He was convicted for his role in a failed murder-for-hire plot targeting his rival, Carole Baskin, who runs a rescue sanctuary for big cats in Florida. He also was convicted of killing five tigers, selling tiger cubs and falsifying wildlife records. Maldonado-Passage has maintained his innocence.


Associated Press contributed to this report

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