WATCH: ‘The best’ four years later, it is Trump’s last day in power
US President Donald Trump speaks after touring tornado damage in Cookeville, Tennessee on March 6, 2020. - At least 24 are dead in the wake of March 3 2020 terrible Tennessee tornadoes. They carved a long scar across Middle Tennessee in the dead of night, racking up a large death toll in the process. While downtown Nashville was hit hard, the town of Cookeville — about 80 miles east of the state capital — suffered the worst of the devastation. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP)
On Wednesday at noon, Joe Biden will be sworn in and the Trump presidency will end, turning the page on some of the most disruptive, divisive years the United States has seen since the 1960s.
President Donald Trump began his final full day in the White House Tuesday with a long list of possible pardons to dish out before snubbing his successor Joe Biden’s inauguration and leaving for Florida.
On Wednesday at noon, Biden will be sworn in and the Trump presidency will end, turning the page on some of the most disruptive, divisive years the United States has seen since the 1960s.
Biden, a veteran Democratic senator who also served as vice president to Barack Obama, was set to travel to Washington on Tuesday with his wife Dr Jill Biden from their hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.
Together with incoming vice president Kamala Harris — the first woman ever to hold the job — Biden was due to deliver an evening address on the Covid-19 crisis, from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.
By contrast, Trump has remained uncharacteristically silent as the clock ticks down to his departure to a new life in his Mar-a-Lago golf club residence in Palm Beach.
Banned by Twitter for his stream of inflammatory messages and misinformation, he has largely stopped communicating with the nation. He has also yet to congratulate Biden or invite him for the traditional pre-inauguration cup of tea in the Oval Office.
Supporters of US President Donald Trump, including member of the QAnon conspiracy group Jake Angeli, aka Yellowstone Wolf (C), enter the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. – Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Saul LOEB / AFP)
US President Donald Trump speaks to the press at General Mitchell International Airport November 2, 2020, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)
Police hold back supporters of US President Donald Trump as they gather outside the US Capitol’s Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. – Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP)
In this photo illustration, the Twitter account of US President Donald Trump is displayed on a mobile phone on August 10, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. – Wall Street was mixed early Monday, with Nasdaq retreating further as investors digested President Donald Trump’s efforts to take unilateral action in the absence of a deal with Congress on emergency pandemic spending. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP)
File picture. Donald Trump holds up a newspaper that displays a headline “Acquitted” as he arrives to speak at the 68th annual National Prayer Breakfast on February 6, 2020 in Washington,DC. – President Donald Trump said Thursday that he suffered a “terrible ordeal” during his impeachment. In his first public comments since being acquitted by the Senate of abuse of office, he said he had been “put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people.” “They have done everything possible to destroy us and by so doing very badly hurt our nation,” he said at a televised prayer breakfast with a Who’s Who of Washington power brokers. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP)
US President Donald Trump arrives for the Independence Day events at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, South Dakota, July 3, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)
US President Donald Trump speaks after touring tornado damage in Cookeville, Tennessee on March 6, 2020. – At least 24 are dead in the wake of March 3 2020 terrible Tennessee tornadoes. They carved a long scar across Middle Tennessee in the dead of night, racking up a large death toll in the process. While downtown Nashville was hit hard, the town of Cookeville — about 80 miles east of the state capital — suffered the worst of the devastation. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP)
US President Donald Trump arrives for a “Keep America Great” rally at Sudduth Coliseum at the Lake Charles Civic Center in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on October 11, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)
US President Donald Trump points as he boards Air Force One at Bangor International airport in Bangor, Maine, on June 5, 2020. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP)
US President Donald Trump tours US Steel’s Granite City Works steel mill in Granite City, Illinois on July 26, 2018. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)
US President Donald Trump steps into the northern side of the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea, as North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un looks on, in the Joint Security Area (JSA) of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)
US President Donald Trump speaks alongside fast food he purchased for a ceremony honoring the 2018 College Football Playoff National Champion Clemson Tigers in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, January 14, 2019. – Trump says the White House chefs are furloughed due to the partial government shutdown. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)
US President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky looks on during a meeting in New York on September 25, 2019, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is seen during an interview in the spin room following the Republican Presidential Debate hosted by Fox Business and The Wall Street Journal November 10, 2015 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. AFP PHOTO / JOSHUA LOTT (Photo by Joshua LOTT and SAUL LOEB / AFP)
File picture. US President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in as President on January 20, 2017 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP)
L-R: First Lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump,former President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama at the US Capitol after inauguration ceremonies at the in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2017. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP)
US President Donald Trump sits in the drivers seat of a semi-truck as he welcomes truckers and CEOs to the White House in Washington, DC, March 23, 2017, to discuss healthcare. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) / ALTERNATIVE CROP
Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway takes a photo as US President Donald Trump and leaders of historically black universities and colleges talk before a group photo in the Oval Office of the White House before a meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence February 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)
US President elect Donald Trump (C) arrives for the swearing-in ceremony on in front of the Capitol in Washington on January 20, 2017. (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP)
Instead, Trump has spent his time meeting with a dwindling circle of loyalists who backed him during a doomed, two-month effort to overturn the results of the November election.
That effort culminated on January 6 with Trump encouraging a crowd to march on Congress.
After the crowd broke through police, killing one officer, and trashed the hallowed Capitol building, Trump was impeached for the second time in just over a year — another first in a presidency of many firsts.
His final Gallup poll as president on Monday showed him exiting with 34 percent approval, his record low. Trump’s overall average of 41 percent since taking office is also the lowest for any presidency’s approval rating since Gallup began measuring in 1938.
Biden, meanwhile, is putting the finishing touches to an inauguration that will feature a small crowd and massive security — more fallout from the pro-Trump riot, on top of existing concerns about Covid-19.
– Pardons –
Trump issued a scattering of last-minute orders on Monday, most notably a lifting of the travel bans imposed because of the coronavirus on most of Europe and Brazil.
Under Trump’s order, borders were to have reopened from January 26, almost a week after he leaves office. Responding almost immediately, Biden’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the measure would not stand.
For Trump, the main piece of unfinished business is now the expected slew of pardons that he is reported to be preparing.
According to CNN and other US outlets, Trump has a list of about 100 people he will grant clemency to.
After what The New York Times reports has been an intense lobbying effort, these are expected to be a mix of white-collar criminals and people whose cases have been championed by criminal justice activists.
More controversial possible pardons that have been the subject of speculation for months would be for the likes of Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Trump’s influential advisor Stephen Bannon.
If Trump gave himself or his family a pardon — something currently not expected, according to latest US reports — that would likely harden anger among previously fully supportive Republicans in the Senate, which is expected to start an impeachment trial soon after Biden takes office.
– Unity and fear –
Biden’s inaugural speech is expected to focus on his appeals for Americans to reunite and to take on the Covid-19 pandemic with new seriousness.
He is also set to announce a dramatic shift away from Trump’s “America First” ideology, taking the United States back to its traditions of alliance-building. This will begin with the new president ordering the United States back into the Paris climate accord on day one.
But the 78-year-old Democrat’s fervent appeals for optimism and healing are running up against the hard reality of multiple crises.
Covid-19 is out of control, vaccine distribution is stumbling, and economic recovery remains in the balance. And after Trump’s refusal to accept the results of November’s presidential election, the country is seething.
Biden will take the oath of office on the steps of the Capitol under the protection of more than 20,000 National Guard soldiers. Checkpoints and large zones closed to ordinary citizens mean there will be only a smattering of guests.
The acting defence secretary said Monday that the military and FBI were vetting the National Guard troopers, who carry automatic weapons, in case any of them pose a threat.
– Inauguration snub –
Trump, the first president to lose reelection since George H.W. Bush was replaced by Bill Clinton, will also be the first ex-president to snub his successor’s inauguration in a century and a half.
On Wednesday, he will depart for Florida from the White House early, in order to benefit from full presidential travel privileges up to the last minute.
Marine One will take him from the White House to Joint Base Andrews to catch Air Force One — the presidential plane that, from noon, will no longer be his to use.
According to a Bloomberg report, Trump is organising a military sendoff for himself at Andrews, watched by a crowd of invitees.
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