Trump Departs With Airbase Send-Off Before Biden Inaugural
Donald Trump departed Washington for a final time as president Wednesday morning, skipping Joe Biden’s inauguration and instead speaking at a military-style send-off at an air base outside the nation’s capital before leaving with his family for his Florida resort.
“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. I wish the new administration great luck, great success,” Trump said at Joint Base Andrews outside of Washington.
But, he added, “we will be back in some form.”
Trump was greeted on the tarmac by his family on a cold and blustery morning as his standard campaign rally soundtrack played in the background. He spoke following a 21-gun salute and a rendition of “Hail to the Chief.” Several of his closest advisers were in attendance, though key Republican allies on Capitol Hill, several Cabinet members and his own vice president didn’t attend.
Following the event, Trump flew to Palm Beach, Florida, where he plans to take up residence at his Mar-a-lago resort. He will become the first U.S. president since the 19th century to skip his successor’s swearing-in ceremony.
Trump leaves Washington in a state of military lockdown, with roughly 25,000 National Guard troops deployed across the city to protect against further attacks on the government after the an assault on the U.S. Capitol on the day of a pro-Trump rally.
Tall fencing surrounds the White House and Capitol; roads and bridges have been barricaded to curtail access to the National Mall.
Some key figures in his administration and partners on Capitol Hill — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and top House Republican Kevin McCarthy — declined to attend the sendoff, according to people familiar with the matter.
Several former Trump aides who became outspoken critics of the president received invitations to the Andrews event, including financier Anthony Scaramucci, who was briefly the White House communications director in 2017, but by 2019 was publicly advocating for Trump’s impeachment.
Former Chief of Staff John Kelly and former National Security Advisor John Bolton and his deputy, Charlie Kupperman, were also invited. None of them attended.
While some fell out with Trump over policy matters, others have distanced themselves from him since the violent insurrection two weeks ago that left five people dead, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer. The episode resulted in Trump’s impeachment, making him the first president to be impeached twice. The Senate is expected to begin his trial after he is out of office.
This report contains material from Bloomberg News.