US President Donald Trump, who is breaking with a century-old tradition by skipping the inauguration of his successor, Joe Biden, left the White House for the last time early on Wednesday morning.
Accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump, the outgoing President, whose term ends at 12 noon (US time), flew from the White House lawn on a presidential chopper, Marine One, to the Joint Base Andrews where a small farewell ceremony has been planned, before he uses the presidential jet for one final time – to fly home to Florida’s Palm Beach.
He paused to speak to a small group of reporters before boarding the chopper.
Invitations have been sent to several Trump aides, present and former, to attend the farewell ceremony, with each guest allowed to bring five guests in a bid to gather a sizeable crowd. However, with the list comprising many with whom the parting had been acrimonious, it seemed not much attention had been given to vetting it.
Several people, said to be invited, had expressed their reluctance to attend the event.
Top leaders, including Vice President Mike Pence, and leaders of the Republican Party in the Congress, were also slated to give the event a miss. They are supposed to join Biden at the Cathedral of St Matthew the Apostle for morning mass.