(WJW) — President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump left the White House Wednesday morning before a short sendoff at Joint Base Andrews, which Trump closed by saying: “We will be back in some form.”
The couple emerged from the White House a little before 8:20 a.m. and strode across the South Lawn to board Marine One. Trump said, “It’s been a great honor, the honor of a lifetime.”
The Trumps left the White House grounds on Marine One at around 8:20 a.m. heading to Joint Base Andrews.
There, they were met by a crowd, a 21-gun salute and “Hail to the Chief.”
In a brief speech, Trump said it was his greatest honor and privilege to serve as president and that he will “be watching.”
“You are an amazing people,” he said. “This is a great, great country. I will always fight for you. I will be watching. I will be listening. And I will tell you the future of this country has never been better.”
He also said he belives the Biden administration will “have great success.”
“They have the foundation to do something very spectacular,” he said.
He closed by saying: “Goodbye, we love you. We will be back in some form. Have a good life. We will see you soon.”
Melania Trump also gave a brief speech.
“Being your first lady was my greatest honor. Thank you for your love and your support. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. God bless you all. God bless your families and God bless this beautiful nation,” she said.
The Trumps then boarded Air Force One to head to Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, where he will retire with a small group of former White House aides.
Trump, twice impeached, is the first president in modern history to not attend the inauguration of a successor. He’s also not participated in several other presidential traditions surrounding a peaceful transition of power.
On his last day in office, Trump granted pardons and commuted sentences for 143 people, including former chief strategist Steve Bannon and rapper Lil Wayne.
He also released a 20-minute farewell address, in which he said: “Four years ago, we launched a great national effort to rebuild our country, to renew its spirit, and to restore the allegiance of this government to its citizens. We did what we came here to do and so much more.”
He also thanked his wife, Melania, the rest of his family and Vice President Mike Pence, along with the Secret Service, other military and law enforcement.
He addressed the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol following his speech to a crowd of supporters. The breach disrupted Congressional proceedings to certify the electoral vote and resulted in five deaths.
“All Americans were horrified by the assault on our capitol. Political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as Americans. It can never be tolerated. Now more than ever, we must rally around our shared values,” Trump said.
Trump did not address President-elect Joe Biden or Vice President-elect Kamala Harris by name in the speech.
“We extend our best wishes and we also want them to have luck, a very important word,” Trump said.