President Donald Trump left the White House shortly after 8 a.m. ET Wednesday on his way to Joint Base Andrews – taking his final flight as president on Marine One.
Trump emerged onto the South Lawn with first lady Melania Trump at 8:12 a.m. ET.
Speaking briefly with reporters, Trump said it was the “honor of a lifetime” to serve as president. Marine One lifted off the South Lawn at 8:18 a.m. ET and toured over the National Mall before heading toward Maryland.
Trump, who is skipping the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, is heading to Joint Base Andrews, where he’ll take part in a ceremony, and then on to Florida. Trump is expected to make remarks at the suburban Maryland military base.
The optics of the departure from the White House was highly unusual: A sitting president generally travels to the U.S. Capitol for the inauguration of a successor. Then, the former president usually walks down the stairs with the new president and takes off from there, a potent symbol of the peaceful handover of power.
Trump, the first president in more than 150 years to refuse to attend the inauguration of his successor, is heading for his Palm Beach club, Mar-a-Lago, which he dubbed the “Winter White House.” The White House has invited hundreds of supporters to a pomp-and-circumstance ceremony at the air base, one expected to feature a red carpet and military color guard – and perhaps a preview of another Trump presidential run in 2024.