JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. — President Donald J. Trump left Washington aboard Air Drive One for a ultimate time on Wednesday, the enduring aircraft creeping alongside the runway so the liftoff was timed to the closing strains of Frank Sinatra’s “My Method.”
In some ways, Mr. Trump’s final hours as president have been a bookend to the kickoff of his presidential campaign in June 2015. As he did then, he tossed apart ready remarks that aides had helped draft and spoke off the cuff, having them take down teleprompters they’d arrange. As he did then, he spent hours centered on the visible points of the scene the place he would communicate on the finish of a calamitous ultimate three months that capped a tumultuous time period.
Earlier than departing for Florida, Mr. Trump — defeated at the polls, twice impeached, silenced by social media platforms and going through an array of authorized and monetary issues — laid down a marker about his future, telling the roughly 300 supporters who greeted him on the windy tarmac, a number of holding American flags, that they’d not seen the final of him.
“Goodbye, we love you, we shall be again in some type,” Mr. Trump vowed, with the primary girl, Melania Trump, by his aspect in sun shades and a black outfit. He has but to say what that type will take, however individuals who know him stated he remained bitter that congressional Republicans had joined in rebuke of his speech at a Jan. 6 rally that incited his supporters to storm the Capitol.
Mr. Pence and the 2 Republican leaders in Congress skipped Mr. Trump’s departure and later attended Mr. Biden’s inaugural. Mr. Trump didn’t point out Mr. Biden, however for the primary time he wished “nice luck and nice success”to the incoming administration. (A draft of Mr. Trump’s ready remarks had included an area suggesting he acknowledge Mr. Biden, however have been bracketed in case he didn’t, based on an individual who noticed them.)
He did discover time to notice his personal vote whole.
And he tried to assert credit score for what he urged can be a string of sturdy financial information within the coming months. “Bear in mind us while you see this stuff taking place, if you happen to would,” he stated.
He equally sought to advertise his document in serving to speed up improvement of vaccines for the coronavirus. “It actually is a good achievement,” he stated.
At totally different factors, Mr. Trump appeared as near changing into emotional as he had all through his 4 years in workplace. He talked in regards to the households who had suffered from the coronavirus all through the final yr.
It was the primary time in two weeks that Mr. Trump had addressed the general public in particular person. He stayed principally out of sight since election night time, save for the incendiary speech he delivered to supporters on Jan. 6 urging them to march on the Capitol in an effort to disclaim Mr. Biden’s victory.
His remarks have been riddled with falsehoods and factual errors, boasts about his time in workplace and calls for for credit score, together with his oft-repeated however exaggerated declare that he had rescued veterans from poor remedy.
He supplied a much less acid model of his model of partisanship, save for just a few moments. “I hope they don’t elevate your taxes,” he stated, “but when they do, I advised you so.”
He praised his household and stated folks didn’t perceive “how exhausting” they labored.
Earlier than the solar rose, officers had constructed a stage adorned with stars-and-stripes bunting, a lectern and a microphone for the president. A army band rehearsed “Hail to the Chief” shortly after 7 a.m.
For a number of minutes, army aides measured the exact size of the pink carpet that Mr. Trump was set to stroll to the steps connecting to Air Drive One, which was introduced out round 6:30. Aides hoisted garment luggage stuffed with the primary household’s belongings into the ahead cabin.
A big area was constructed for an viewers that the White Home had invited to see the president off. However for a person obsessive about crowd measurement, solely about 300 folks confirmed up, filling roughly a 3rd of the standing space.
For a number of days, aides had tried to corral officers to return to the departure, and to carry company. However a number of who remained working till the president’s ultimate day in workplace stated they have been worn out and deeply indignant over his habits since Election Day, as he unfold falsehoods in regards to the race being stolen from him, overshadowing no matter substantive achievements they could keep in mind. A few of his aides who had been with him the longest stated they didn’t even watch the send-off on tv.
Others needed to keep away from Washington in its present quasi-militarized state. And nonetheless others left town earlier than the brand new administration got here in, returning to their dwelling states.
Mr. Trump, who usually considered profitable however by no means really contemplated the presidency before Nov. 8, 2016, started the morning telling advisers he needed so as to add one final pardon to the lengthy list of clemency grants he had issued early Wednesday morning. This one was for Albert J. Pirro Jr., the previous husband of an outdated buddy, Jeanine Pirro, a Fox Information host.
To the shock of a few of his personal aides, he left a notice for Mr. Biden within the Oval Workplace, though its contents remained undisclosed. Mr. Trump left the White Home for a ultimate time round 8:20 a.m., stopping briefly to speak to reporters earlier than stepping onto Marine One. He described the presidency because the “honor” of his life.
Then he and the primary girl boarded the helicopter, taking their final experience as the remainder of the Trump household met them on the send-off. The helicopter diverted from its regular route and circled across the Capitol, the place two weeks earlier his supporters had chanted about hanging Mr. Pence, vowed to assist Mr. Trump stay in workplace and set off chaos and violence that led to his second impeachment.
When he arrived on the air base, a army band performed “Hail to the Chief” and he was given a 21-gun salute, lending his farewell the militaristic patina he craved all through his presidency. However in the course of the occasion, his typical rally soundtrack performed. When he completed his remarks, he stepped off the stage to the Village Individuals’s “Y.M.C.A.” earlier than heading to the pink carpet resulting in Air Drive One.
The aircraft then crept alongside the runway to “My Method,” a cinematic departure for a president who as soon as needed to be a Hollywood producer. On the flight, Mr. Trump stayed cloistered on the entrance of the aircraft along with his household, who, like him, have by no means skilled the impact of a political loss.
When the aircraft touched down in Palm Seaside, Fla., a crowd of about 20 supporters greeted the president. He waved, however didn’t cease to speak to anybody earlier than climbing into an S.U.V.
The route from the airport to his personal membership, Mar-a-Lago, was lined with folks waving flags, some weeping as he handed. Round 11:30 a.m., Mr. Trump was whisked contained in the gates of the Mar-a-Lago compound, forsaking the press corps that was assigned to cowl him for 4 years. Mr. Pirro’s pardon was introduced round that point.
Mr. Trump had one other half-hour left of his presidency, however he had stated all he was going to say.
Patricia Mazzei contributed reporting from Palm Seaside, Fla.