US President Donald Trump left the White House for the final time on Wednesday, heading by helicopter to a nearby military base where he will fly to Florida, skipping the inauguration of successor Joe Biden in an extraordinary break with tradition.
Trump, 74, and First Lady Melania Trump walked a short red carpet and boarded Marine One on the White House lawn on a sunny but chilly day in Washington for the short flight to Joint Base Andrews where he will board Air Force One.
Drawing a curtain on the most tumultuous administration of modern times, Trump is being ousted by a polar opposite with the Democrat Biden intent on charting a new course to tackle Covid-19 and unite a splintered nation.
A small crowd waved goodbye as Trump, 74, and First Lady Melania Trump walked a short red carpet and boarded the Marine One helicopter shortly after 8:15 am (1315 GMT), for the short flight to the air base where they will continue to Florida on board Air Force One.
"I just want to say goodbye," Trump told the gathering, calling his time in office "the honor of a lifetime."
Marine One with US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump passes the Trump International Hotel (right) as it departs the White House in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2021. President Trump travels to his Mar-a-Lago golf club residence in Palm Beach, Florida, and will not attend the inauguration for President-elect Joe Biden. (Agence France-Presse/OLIVIER DOULIERY / POOL). Usage: 0 (Agence France-Presse/OLIVIER DOULIERY / POOL)
Trump will be at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida when Biden is sworn in at noon (1700 GMT) as the 46th president of the United States.
The European Union's top officials expressed relief on Wednesday that they would again have a friend in the White House as Joe Biden replaces Donald Trump.
Charles Michel, president of the European Council, said the moment should be seized to form a new "founding pact" between democratic powers.
He was joined in the European Parliament by Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, to address MEPs hours ahead of Biden's inauguration.
Trump's Washington has been at loggerheads with Brussels over trade, subsidies for planemakers and European attempts to tax and regulate American tax giants.
European capitals have also been outraged by Trump's decision to quit the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal -- and EU leaders hope Biden will return to them.
But some in Brussels also see parallels between Trump's rise and the success of populist authoritarianism in parts of Europe, and in this a threat to transatlantic democracy,