Inauguration Day

‘A Great Honor': After Departing White House, Trump Arrives in Florida

Dispatching with a long-running tradition, President Donald Trump opted to skip the inauguration of his successor

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President Donald Trump left the Washington, D.C., area for the last time as commander in chief early Wednesday, becoming the first outgoing president in a century to boycott the inauguration of his successor.

After arriving in Florida around midday, Trump was seen waving at supporters gathered along Southern Boulevard as his motorcade arrived at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, NBC News reported.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump left the White House shortly before 8:20 a.m., with the president telling a small crowd gathered on the lawn, "It has been a great honor, the honor of a lifetime."

The couple then boarded Marine One, seeing a stunning view of the National Mall and monuments during their short trip to nearby Joint Base Andrews.

During a departure ceremony at the base, classic rock songs played before both the president and first lady spoke to the crowd. Trump delivered his final remarks as president and wished the next administration luck without specifically mentioning Biden's name, NBC News reported.

"I will tell you that the future of this country has never been better," Trump said. "I wish the new administration great luck and great success. I think they'll have great success. They have the foundation to do something really spectacular. And again, we put it in a position like it's never been before despite the worst plague to hit since I guess you'd say 1917, over 100 years ago." 

Melania Trump spoke briefly, saying that being first lady was her "greatest honor."

As the Village People's "YMCA" began to play in the background, Trump told the crowd, "Just a goodbye. We love you. We will be back in some form. Have a good life. We will see you soon."

The Trumps then boarded Air Force One, which taxied and lifted off as Frank Sinatra's "My Way" played. It was a notable choice since the couple also danced to a rendition of the song four years ago during an inaugural ball.

Inauguration Day in Photos

Trump Left Departure Note for Biden

While Trump has refused to participate in many of the traditions that have been capstones of the peaceful transition of power, he did take part in one: leaving behind a note for his successor in the Oval Office. It was a custom started by President Ronald Reagan in 1989.

Deputy Press Sec. Judd Deere confirmed to NBC News that Trump left a note for Biden.

It was not immediately known what was written in the note. Generally, the missives' contents start off as confidential, but often are eventually made public by archivists, references in presidential memoirs or via social media after journalists and others file requests to obtain them.

Trump received such a note from former President Barack Obama when he moved in.

“We are just temporary occupants of this office," Obama wrote to Trump in January 2017. "That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions — like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties — that our forebears fought and bled for.”

Moving Day at the White House

With a new administration coming in, Inauguration Day is also moving day at the White House.

“They basically have the moving trucks waiting outside the White House gates,” said Matt Costello, a historian at the White House Historical Association, told the Associated Press. “And as soon as the president and president-elect leave, they wave in the moving trucks, and they'll pack up the outgoing president's things, and then they'll unpack all of the new first family's things.”

Things will unfold a bit differently this year.

Trump left the District before Biden took the oath of office, meaning the pair did not go to the Capitol together. Housekeepers and other residence staffers who help move the presidents' belongings could be getting a welcome head start on the packing and unpacking.

Moving trucks were spotted Monday arriving at Mar-a-Lago.

NBC Washington/Associated Press
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