Trump Farewell Video Nods to Biden Presidency Without Naming Him
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump wished President-elect Joe Biden’s administration success in a farewell address Wednesday, a rare gesture of goodwill toward his successor.
“This week, we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous,” Trump said in a recorded speech released by the White House. “We extend our best wishes, and we also want them to have luck -- a very important word.”
Trump has never conceded defeat in the November election and his false claims of widespread voter fraud culminated in his supporters rioting at the Capitol on Jan. 6, an attack in which five people including a police officer died.
“All Americans were horrified by the assault on our Capitol,” Trump said. “Political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as Americans. It can never be tolerated.”
Though he offered well-wishes to Biden, Trump didn’t mention his successor by name or accept any responsibility for inciting his supporters to storm the Capitol. The House impeached Trump for a second time for his role in the attack, making him the first U.S. president to receive the sanction twice.
The president nonetheless hinted at the possibility of a second act in national politics, saying even as he prepares to “hand power over to a new administration” that “the movement we started is only just beginning.”
Trump has seldom acknowledged that Biden would assume office and is not expected to invite the president-elect for a traditional pre-inauguration meeting. He also won’t attend the swearing-in itself. Instead, Trump will break with more than a century of tradition and leave the nation’s capital before the ceremony.
Trump spent the bulk of his speech touting his administration’s actions including shifting the federal judiciary to the right, forging Middle East peace deals, taking an aggressive stance toward China and building what he called the “greatest economy in the history of the world.” He also argued that he is the “first president in decades who has started no new wars.”
Trump is leaving office, however, with the nation more politically divided and more likely to be out of work than when he arrived. His final approval is 34%, according to Gallup, tied with historically unpopular presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush.
Trump sought to paint his response to the coronavirus pandemic as a success, even though his failure to contain it helped lead to the president’s defeat in the November election. The U.S. has recorded 400,000 deaths from Covid-19, hitting a grim milestone on the eve of Biden taking office.
The president took credit for the passage of the initial round of virus relief and said the development of vaccines, which his administration oversaw with its Operation Warp Speed, was a “medical miracle.”
“They said it couldn’t be done but we did it,” Trump said.
The president appeared to acknowledge his abrasive style rubbed many the wrong way, but made no apologies for his conduct in the White House.
“I did not seek the easiest course; by far, it was actually the most difficult,” he said. “I did not seek the path that would get the least criticism. I took on the tough battles, the hardest fights, the most difficult choices because that’s what you elected me to do.”
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