By Jessica Easthope and Paula Katinas
President Donald Trump spent the last day of his presidency looking back at his accomplishments, wishing his successor good luck, issuing pardons, and hinting at a possible White House run in the future.
Trump and First Lady Melania Trump left the White House on Jan. 20 and boarded Marine One for the helicopter ride to Joint Base Andrews, where they then boarded Air Force One. They flew to Palm Beach, Florida, where they will reside.
Trump did not attend President Joe Biden’s inauguration at the Capitol. But in remarks delivered at Joint Base Andrews before he boarded Air Force One, he did wish the incoming president well. “I wish the new administration great luck and great success,” Trump said. He also thanked Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen. The Pences were not there to see the Trumps off because they were at the Capitol in preparation for the inauguration.
The outgoing president said he had many accomplishments in office, including his appointment of three Supreme Court justices and 300 federal judges, the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines, his handling of the economy, and his administration’s treatment of military veterans.
During his term, Trump appointed three Supreme Court justices: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.
Kavanaugh and Coney Barrett are Catholics. The Supreme Court now has six Catholics: Chief Justice John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Kavanaugh, and Coney Barrett.
Trump mentioned COVID-19 several times during his remarks, calling it “the China virus.” He said the virus that has killed more than 400,000 Americans was a worldwide pandemic that hit many countries hard, not just the U.S. He also marveled at the rapid development of vaccines to fight the deadly virus. “We got the vaccine developed in nine months,” he said, calling it “a great achievement.”
Trump spoke about doing a good job steering the economy and said he always ensured that military veterans got the health care treatment they deserved.
On Jan. 19, the last night of his term, Trump released a video farewell address to the nation.
“This week, we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous,” he said.
“Most of all, I want to thank the American people. To serve as your President has been an honor beyond description. Thank you for this extraordinary privilege,” he said.
Trump also mentioned the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol when mobs identifying themselves as Trump supporters stormed the building. The House of Representatives impeached Trump on Jan. 13. The article of impeachment charged him with inciting an insurrection.
On Tuesday, Trump decried the riot. “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,” Trump said in his farewell address Tuesday night.
In one of his last acts, Trump issued 73 pardons and 70 commutations. Former White House strategist Steve Bannon and rapper Lil Wayne were among the people getting last-minute pardons.
Just before boarding Air Force One, Trump offered a hint that his time in public office might not be over. As a one-term president, he is eligible to run for the White House again.
“We love you. We will be back in some form. I will always fight for you,” he told the crowd.
“Have a good life. We will see you soon,” Trump said.