Donald Trump and wife Melania have departed the White House as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to be sworn in later today as the 46th president of the United States. Trump took off just after 8 a.m. ET in Marine One for the short ride to Joint-base Andrews, where he made final remarks before boarding Air Force One for the flight to his Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago. He is expected to arrive in West Palm Beach an hour before his presidency ends at noon.
Trump's final weeks were mired in chaos as the country reached the grim milestone of 400,000 COVID-19 deaths just days after pro-Trump rioters breached the U.S. Capitol building in an attempt to prevent Biden's Electoral College votes from being certified by Congress. In the wake of the attempted insurrection, Trump announced he would not be attending Biden's inauguration, breaking with presidential tradition for the first time in 152 years.
President Trump and Melania depart the White House pic.twitter.com/jk6AK3QNi8— Axios (@axios) January 20, 2021
In a farewell address released on video on Tuesday, Trump praised his own presidency and said the movement he sparked would live on. "My fellow Americans, 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. In short, we embarked on a mission to make America great again for all Americans," Trump said. "Now, as I prepare to hand power over to a new administration at noon on Wednesday, I want you to know that the movement we started is only just beginning."
In the late hours of Tuesday, Trump issued a wave of pardons, issuing presidential pardons to 143 people, including former top White House aide Steve Bannon, according to a list made public by the White House on Wednesday morning. Bannon, who served as Trump's former chief strategist in the White House, was indicted in August on wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy charges after prosecutors alleged his "We Build the Wall" crowdfunding campaign took hundreds of thousands of donated dollars for personal expenses.
Also pardoned were rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black, the Trump Organization's longtime chief financial officer and Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy and former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Lil Wayne pleaded guilty in December to a federal weapons charge after he carried a handgun from California to Florida on his private jet as a felon barred from owning a firearm. Kodak Black was sentenced to 46 months in prison on federal weapons charges in 2019 after admitting to falsifying federal forms to buy firearms. Broidy pleaded guilty in October to conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws, and Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in 2008 following a pay-to-play scheme in which Kilpatrick took kickbacks and bribes to set up certain contractors for city work.