Donald Trump has said the movement he started as US president was “only just beginning”, acknowledging the imminent handover of power while avoiding any reference to president-elect Joe Biden by name in a farewell address from the White House.
In his final pre-recorded remarks posted before he departs the US capital for Florida on Wednesday, Mr Trump touted his administration’s accomplishments and the personal role he played in everything from his trade war with China to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I took on the tough battles, the hardest fights, the most difficult choices — because that’s what you elected me to do,” Mr Trump said on Tuesday, calling himself “the only true outsider ever to win the presidency”.
He asserted that his administration had “restored American strength at home and American leadership abroad”.
“The world respects us again — please don’t lose that respect,” he said.
Mr Trump also highlighted his tough stance on China and role in overseeing what he called “a series of historic peace deals in the Middle East”.
“I am especially proud to be the first president in decades who has started no new wars,” he added.
Mr Trump referred briefly to the violence that engulfed the US Capitol earlier this month, but did not acknowledge the role he himself had played in the events leading up to the attack, including questioning the veracity of the November election results and encouraging protesters to march down to the home of the US Congress. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader, accused the president and others of having “provoked” the rioters earlier on Tuesday.
“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 rancour and form our common destiny.”
At another point, he stated that “above all” his administration had “reasserted the sacred idea that in America, the government answers to the people”.
Mr Trump acknowledged several times during the speech that he was preparing to “hand over power to a new administration at noon on Wednesday”.
“[We] pray for [the new administration’s] success in keeping America safe and prosperous,” he said, without mentioning Mr Biden. “We also want them to have luck — a very important word.”