WASHINGTON: Donald Trump has left the White House for the final time as president.
He emerged from the building Wednesday (Jan 20) morning and strode across the South Lawn, saying: “It’s been a great honour, the honour of a lifetime.”
Trump, 74, and First Lady Melania Trump walked a short red carpet and boarded Marine One on the White House lawn on a sunny but chilly day in Washington for the short flight to Joint Base Andrews where he was expected to board Air Force One.
Trump will then fly to Florida, where he will stay at Mar-a-Lago.
Ahead of boarding Air Force One, Trump briefly addressed staff members, supporters and members of his family.
"This has been an incredible four years. We've accomplished so much together," he said. "I will always fight for you.
"We will be back in some form."
Trump did not address Biden by name but said he wishes the new administration "great luck and great success".
Trump is leaving Washington just hours before Joe Biden takes the oath of office as the 46th president.
It is the first time in more than a century that a sitting president has rejected the tradition of attending his successor’s inauguration.
While a transition of power will occur much as it has for more than two centuries, this inauguration is unlike any other.
Official Washington has taken on the dystopian look of an armed camp, protected by around 25,000 National Guard troops tasked with preventing any repeat of this month's attack.
And with the pandemic raging, the general public is essentially barred from attending the swearing-in, leading to the unprecedented sight of an empty National Mall on Inauguration Day.
Trump broke days of silence Tuesday with a pre-recorded farewell video address in which - for the first time - he asked Americans to "pray" for the success of the incoming administration.
But Trump has yet to personally congratulate Biden, who first ran for president in 1987, on his win, and the 11th-hour message followed months spent persuading his Republican followers that Democrat cheated his way to election victory.
In one of his last acts before departing the White House, Trump issued scores of pardons to people convicted of crimes or facing charges, including several key allies.