WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEWS 1130) – Donald Trump left the White House for the final time as president Wednesday morning, just hours before Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Trump’s appearance was brief, stopping only for a quick moment to address the media before boarding Marine One.
“It’s been a great honour — the honour of a lifetime,” he said, before boarding the helicopter with the first lady.
Trump was met with cheers from supporters chanting “we love you” as he and his wife, Melania, disembarked at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 20, 2021
“We’ve accomplished so much together,” he said ahead of thanking his family and supporters.
“People have no idea how hard this family worked, and they worked for you,” Trump added, thanking his loved ones.
The pandemic was among the key items he addressed in his final speech, not missing the opportunity to use an inappropriate reference to the virus — something he’s been slammed for in recent months.
“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 and great success — I think they’ll have great success. They have the foundation to do something really spectacular,” Trump said before promising “we will be back in some form.”
Trump did not attend the inauguration ceremony.
Tightened security in Washington, D.C.
The sun came up in Washington, D.C. over clusters of soldiers in full battle fatigues inside metal barriers restricting access to the inauguration procession route.
There are flags, there are placards, but traffic is blocked, there are no crowds, people have been told to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and, because of security concerns, most offices in the surrounding buildings are closed, many boarded up with plywood to prevent damage in case pro-Trump violence breaks out once again.
Radhika Sikhakhane, a Canadian living in D.C. not far from Capitol Hill, said things were very quiet in the days leading up to the inauguration.
“It’s very eerie. I know you can always hear low-flying helicopters throughout the day. No one’s really leaving their homes. There’s definitely a different vibe in D.C. that I have not experienced in my two and a half years of living here,” she explained. “You can definitely notice a different presence, a more policed and military presence. I mean, D.C. is a very heavily policed city already but now, it’s very quiet.”
There’s no sign of any protest at this point, certainly nothing like the violent insurrection by Trump supporters we saw on Jan. 6.
Around 25,000 National Guard troops have been brought in to D.C. as part of preparations for the inauguration. Each member was vetted due to concerns of a potential inside threat flagged by the FBI.
-With files from The Associated Press