- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 19, 2021

President Trump told Americans in his farewell address on Tuesday that his political movement “is only just beginning,” and he said the nation is praying for the success of the Biden administration.

Facing a second impeachment trial within days after he leaves office, Mr. Trump again denounced the violence by his supporters at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

In a recorded video address, Mr. Trump said of his four years in office, “We did what we came here to do — and so much more.

“Above all, we have reasserted the sacred idea that in America, the government answers to the people,” Mr. Trump said. “We restored the idea that in America, no one is forgotten — because everyone matters and everyone has a voice.

“Now, as I prepare to hand power over to a new administration … I want you to know that the movement we started is only just beginning.”

Mr. Trump’s presidency will end at noon Wednesday, when President-elect Joseph R. Biden takes the oath of office. Mr. Trump has discussed with advisers the possibility of running again in 2024, although he has acknowledged that he would be 78 years old — the same age that Mr. Biden is now.

Despite his plans to boycott Mr. Biden’s inauguration after the bitterly contested election, Mr. Trump said, “This week, we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous. We extend our best wishes, and we also want them to have luck — a very important word.”

Mr. Trump will receive a red-carpet sendoff Wednesday morning at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, where he will board Air Force One for the last time. The ceremony will feature a military band and a crowd of well-wishers, before Mr. Trump flies to his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.

Vice President Mike Pence is not expected to attend the ceremony, opting instead to witness Mr. Biden’s inauguration at the Capitol. Mr. Trump will be the first president since Andrew Johnson in 1869 not to attend his successor’s inauguration.

His 20-minute address came out the same day that the U.S. reached a grim milestone, passing 400,000 deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We grieve for every life loss, and we pledge in their memory to wipe out this horrible pandemic once and for all,” Mr. Trump said.

The public health crisis and related economic turmoil contributed heavily to Mr. Trump’s defeat at the polls. Still, the president said his policies enabled the U.S. economy to recover quicker than other nations.

“The whole world suffered, but America outperformed other countries economically because of our incredible economy and the economy that we built,” he said.

Mr. Pence ran a coronavirus task force meeting at the White House on Tuesday and was seen chatting outside with a group of White House Fellows, who applauded him when he finished speaking.

The vice president and Mr. Trump have had a strained relationship since the president accused Mr. Pence of lacking “courage” to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College results as a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. They tried to hunt down lawmakers and Mr. Pence.

The president addressed the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday blamed Mr. Trump for provoking.

“All Americans were horrified by the assault on our Capitol,” Mr. Trump said. “Political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as Americans. It can never be tolerated. Now more than ever, we must unify around our shared values and rise above the partisan rancor, and forge our common destiny.”

The mob attacked the Capitol after Mr. Trump exhorted a massive rally of his followers on the National Mall to stop lawmakers from counting the election results. The president has said his remarks at the rally were “appropriate.”  

But the House disagreed and last week impeached Mr. Trump for the second time in a bipartisan vote that held him responsible for inciting the attack. The Senate is expected to put Mr. Trump on trial, possibly within days, although he will have left office by then. A conviction by two-thirds of senators would bar Mr. Trump from running for office again. 

Mr. Trump has been banned by numerous social media platforms since the riot. In his video, he said America depends on “a robust belief in free expression, free speech and open debate,” and warned of the consequences of censorship.

“Only if we forget who we are, and how we got here, could we ever allow political censorship and blacklisting to take place in America,” he said. “Shutting down free and open debate violates our core values and most enduring traditions. In America, we don’t insist on absolute conformity or enforce rigid orthodoxies and punitive speech codes. America is not a timid nation of tame souls who need to be sheltered and protected from those with whom we disagree. That’s not who we are.”

In his farewell, Mr. Trump said he “took on the tough battles, the hardest fights, the most difficult choices — because that’s what you elected me to do.” He talked about securing the U.S. borders from illegal immigration and drug trafficking, and of deploying his “America First” agenda on the world stage.

“We restored American strength at home and American leadership abroad,” Mr. Trump said. “The world respects us again. Please don’t lose that respect.”

Mr. Trump said the biggest danger facing America “is a loss of confidence in ourselves — a loss of confidence in our national greatness.”

“No nation can long thrive that loses faith in its own values, history, and heroes — for these are the very sources of our unity and our vitality,” he said.

He said his administration “built the greatest economy in the history of the world.”

“We revitalized our alliances and rallied the nations of the world to stand up to China like never before,” Mr. Trump said. “As a result of our bold diplomacy and principled realism, we achieved a series of historic peace deals in the Middle East. It is the dawn of a new Middle East and we are bringing our soldiers home. I am especially proud to be the first president in decades who has started no new wars.”

He predicted that his greatest legacy will be: “We put the American people back in charge of our country. We restored self-government. We restored the idea that in America no one is forgotten, because everyone matters and everyone has a voice.”

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