Trump greeted by supporters in Florida as he boycotts inauguration and vows ‘we will be back’

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Donald Trump has left the White House after four years as US president but insisted: “We will be back in some form.”

The outgoing president is heading to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida as Joe Biden prepares to be sworn in as America’s new leader in Washington DC.

Speaking before boarding the plane, he told supporters it had been “an incredible” four years and thanked his family, as his daughter Tiffany watched on, shedding some tears.

Live updates on the final preparations for Joe Biden’s inauguration

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks next to first lady Melania Trump as he departs from the Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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Donald Trump spoke to supporters before flying to Florida
President Donald Trump waves as he boards Marine One and leaves the White House
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President Donald Trump waves as he boards Marine One and leaves the White House

He said “we left it all on the field”, adding that “it has been my greatest honour and privilege to have been your president”.

He wished the new administration “great luck and great success” – but added “we will be back in some form”.

Earlier as he left the White House, Mr Trump said: “I just want to say goodbye but hopefully it’s not a long term goodbye. We’ll see each other again.”

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President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump stop to talk with the media as they walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House. Pic: AP
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Donald and Melania Trump left the White House as they boycott Joe Biden’s inauguration. Pic: AP

The outgoing US president is the first to skip his successor’s inauguration since Andrew Johnson in 1869, and only the fourth to have done so in history.

Mr Trump held hands with First Lady Melania Trump as he walked across the lawn of the White House before waving as he boarded the Marine One helicopter.

U.S. President Donald Trump departs the White House aboard Marine One ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
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Mr and Mrs Trump flew from the White House on the Marine One helicopter

The helicopter took him to Joint Base Andrews where Air Force One was waiting to take him to Florida.

His send-off was complete with a red carpet up to the steps of the plane, a military band and even a 21-gun salute.

Mrs Trump also spoke briefly at the event, saying: “Being your first lady was my greatest honour.”

President Donald Trump listens as First Lady Melania Trump speaks before boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base. Pic: AP
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First Lady Melania Trump spoke before flying to Florida with her husband. Pic: AP

Vice President Mike Pence skipped the event, citing the logistical challenges of getting from the air base to the inauguration ceremony.

In his final recorded address as president on Tuesday, Mr Trump said he will “pray for the success” of Mr Biden’s administration – but claimed the political movement he created “is only just beginning”.

He said: “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. There’s never been anything like it.

“The belief that a nation must serve its citizens will not dwindle but instead only grow stronger by the day.”

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‘We pray for the new administration’

Mr Trump’s final action as president saw him pardon or grant clemency to 143 people including his former chief strategist Steve Bannon and rapper Lil Wayne.

Bannon, who was fired by the president in August 2017, is charged with swindling Trump supporters over an effort to raise private funds to build the US-Mexico border wall, and has pleaded not guilty.

Wayne pleaded guilty last month to possessing a loaded, gold-plated handgun on a private flight in 2019 and is due to be sentenced next week.

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