WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump leaves the presidency on Wednesday under a dark cloud of his own making, ending his single four-year term stained by two impeachments, deep political divisions and his handling of a pandemic that has caused 400,000 US deaths, report agencies.
Drawing a curtain on the most tumultuous administration of modern times, Trump is being ousted by a polar opposite with the Democrat Biden intent on charting a new course to tackle Covid-19 and unite a splintered nation.Donald Trump left the White House for the last time with a vow to stay in the spotlight and an extraordinary snub of Joe Biden, skipping his inauguration as the 46th president of the United States. Trump, 74, and first lady Melania Trump walked a short red carpet and boarded the Marine One helicopter, which flew near the Capitol that was ready for Biden’s inauguration before heading to Andrews Air Force Base on Washington’s outskirts.
“This has been an incredible four years,” Trump told several hundred cheering supporters in a campaign-style event before flying off for the last time in Air Force One en route to his Florida resort.
“We will be back in some form,” vowed Trump, who retains a hold on much of the Republican Party despite being the first president to be impeached twice.
Banned from Twitter after his supporters stormed the US Capitol on Jan. 6, Trump used an old-school method - an emailed press release - to distribute a farewell video on Tuesday in which he veered from his usual divisive rhetoric and sounded an upbeat message.
In the final hours of his presidency, Donald Trump has pardoned 73 people, including his former adviser Steve Bannon, who is facing fraud charges. Another 70 people had sentences commuted, ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration at noon (17:00 GMT).
Rapper Lil Wayne received a pardon and there were commutations for rapper Kodak Black and former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. The president has not issued preemptive pardons for himself or family members.Trump has a long way to go to rebuild an image left in tatters by his stormy presidency, particularly the final months. Trump now has a unique place in history - as the only president ever impeached twice.
Even after Trump leaves office, the Senate is still to hold a trial on the impeachment charge brought by the Democratic-led House of Representatives that he incited an insurrection. Its outcome could determine whether he will be disqualified from running again for president.
“He is going to be as an asterisk president, a one-termer who did more damage than good,” said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley.
Trump maintained to his last days in office that the Nov. 3 election was stolen from him, according to sources familiar with the situation.
Courts have rejected his campaign’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud and his vice president, Mike Pence, led the US Congress in certifying Biden’s victory over Trump’s objections, after Trump-inspired protesters had been cleared from the Capitol following a deadly assault.
The Washington that Trump leaves behind is being guarded by 25,000 National Guard troops, while the National Mall, traditionally thronged with spectators on Inauguration Day, is closed to the public because of threats of violence from groups that attacked the Capitol.
While preoccupied with fighting the election results, Trump did not put a dent in the spiraling death toll from the coronavirus, which crossed the grim 400,000 mark in the United States on Tuesday, the most of any country. Pandemic-related shutdowns and restrictions have also cost millions of Americans their jobs.
Trump, a former real estate tycoon who owns 17 golf resorts around the world, faces a gigantic task rebuilding his tarnished brand.
The New York Times reported that many of his resorts have been losing millions of dollars and that hundreds of millions in debt must be repaid within a few years.
Trump must also decide how to stay involved in politics as he has said he will do. He has talked of using a super PAC (political action committee) for supporting candidates who try to oust Republicans who he believes have crossed him politically.
But whether he can maintain his grip on the Republican Party will remain to be seen.
“I would predict in the not-too-distant future that American political candidates will be more motivated to show that they are unlike Trump than candidates after 1974 were to show that they were unlike (Richard) Nixon,” said presidential historian Michael Beschloss. Nixon resigned in 1974 over the Watergate scandal.