President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump left the White House residence for the last time on Wednesday morning, on their way to Florida, as Joe Biden prepares to be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.
The Trumps walked out of the White House together shortly after 8 a.m. local time and flew on the Marine One helicopter to Joint Base Andrews to board Air Force One for a final trip. Once on the tarmac, the 45th president spoke to a crowd of about 200 guests, including his adult children, who tearfully cheered him on.
"We were not a regular administration," Trump, 74, said in a self-congratulatory 10-minute speech. "I will always fight for you … the future of this country has never been better. I wish the new administration great luck and great success."
Trump touted his four years in office and praised his supporters, but he leaves office under the cloud of an unprecedented second impeachment in the wake of the Capitol riots this month by a pro-Trump mob, encouraged by months of the president's lies about the November election.
"We will be back in some form," Trump said, receiving a small burst of cheers.
Then, the president gave his parting message: "Have a good life," Trump said. "We will see you soon."
The Trumps will next fly to his private Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach.
Mar-a-Lago is where the president, 74, and Mrs. Trump, 50, filed their "declaration of domicile" in fall 2019 and switched their permanent residences from New York City.
While the White House has stayed mum about Trump's post-presidency plans, at least publicly, he continued to make baseless allegations of fraud in the election he lost, aides acknowledged privately last month that his camp were all on their way out.
"As the athletes would say, we left it all on the field," Trump said Wednesday, looking to his wife Melania. "In a month when we're sitting in Florida, we can't look at each other and say, 'Well, only if we worked a little bit harder.' "
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The Trumps' departure from Washington, D.C., comes two weeks after the president incited violent riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 — an insurrection in which five people died.
The House of Representatives impeached him last week and his second Senate trial still looms.
Trump previously tweeted that he would not be attending Biden's inauguration. However, Vice President Mike Pence is expected to attend the swearing-in ceremony, which will also see Kamala Harris become the first female vice president.
On Jan. 11, Trump declared a state of emergency in D.C. Federal assistance was ordered to the District beginning that day and will continue through Sunday, enabling the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to "coordinate all disaster-relief efforts" with the purpose of "alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population" and provide assistance in any emergencies that arise.
Ahead of Biden's Inauguration Day, authorities in D.C., prepared for marches and potential violence after the Capitol riot during a joint session of Congress.
On Jan. 12, the House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on Pence, 61, to invoke the 25th Amendment due to Trump's role in the riots — but the vice president had already sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying that he would not do so.
House Democrats also formally introduced one article of impeachment against Trump, charging him with "incitement of insurrection" after the failed coup attempt at the Capitol.
A record number of 10 Republican representatives voted in favor of impeachment.
The staff at Mar-a-Lago has been preparing for President Trump's arrival since December, including the renovation his 2,000-square-foot residence at the club, which he purchased in the '80s.
"Donald's apartment, which once belonged to Mar-a-Lago estate creator Marjorie Merriweather Post, will be expanded and spruced up," a source close to Trump previously told PEOPLE.
"They are definitely renovating his apartment within the Mar-a-Lago Club to make it larger, more modern and comfortable for his use," the source added. (Insiders have also told PEOPLE that the Trumps have separate bedrooms in their Mar-a-Lago lodgings.)
Recently, a group of residents argued in a demand letter sent to the town of Palm Beach that Trump's plans to move to Mar-a-Lago go against a use agreement he entered into in 1993, according to The Washington Post and The New York Times which also reported that residents said Trump needs to find a new place to live.
"To avoid an embarrassing situation for everyone and to give the president time to make other living arrangements in the area, we trust you will work with his team to remind them of the use agreement parameters," reads the letter, which was also sent to the Secret Service and included a pointed message to Trump: "Palm Beach has many lovely estates for sale, and surely he can find one which meets his needs."
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