Trump to depart White House hours before Biden inauguration, flying Air Force One to Mar-a-Lago last time

Key Points
  • Trump may give final remarks as commander in chief during a farewell ceremony at Joint Base Andrews.
  • Last week the president announced he will not attend the inauguration.
  • Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence are expected to attend Joe Biden's inauguration.
U.S. President Donald Trump salutes as he boards Air Force One at Valley International Airport after visiting the U.S.-Mexico border wall, in Harlingen, Texas, January 12, 2021.
Carlos Barria | Reuters

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is expected to depart the White House for West Palm Beach, Florida, a few hours before his successor, President-elect Joe Biden, is sworn into office, two people familiar with the arrangements told NBC News.

The people explained that Trump may give final remarks as commander in chief during a farewell ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, where Air Force One and its twin decoy are held. From Andrews, Trump will fly on Air Force One for the last time to Mar-a-Lago, his private resort.

The White House declined to comment.

Last week, Trump announced that he will not attend the inauguration, which Biden said was, "one of the few things he and I have ever agreed on."

Washington, D.C. makes major road and transit changes ahead of next week's inauguration

Trump is not the first outgoing president to skip the inauguration of his successor. The others were Presidents John Adams, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Johnson, according to the White House Historical Association. Like Trump, Johnson was also impeached.

Trump's refusal to accept the election results culminated on Jan. 6, when swarms of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol and derailed congressional proceedings to tally electors' votes and confirm Biden's win in the Nov. 3 contest.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday impeached Trump for inciting insurrection in a bipartisan vote that included 10 Republicans. It's unclear when the Senate trial will take place.

Trump is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.

He was first impeached in December 2019 for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in connection with his efforts to press the government of Ukraine to investigate the Biden family. Trump was later acquitted by the Senate.

Biden's victory was projected by all major news outlets in mid-November and confirmed by Electoral College votes in mid-December. The Republican president has falsely insisted that he won in a "landslide" and that the presidency was stolen from him.

President Donald Trump listens to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto speak by phone as he announces that United States has reached an agreement with Mexico to enter a new trade deal in the Oval Office of the White House on Monday, Aug 27, 2018.
The Washington Post | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence are expected to attend Biden's inauguration.

The Obamas, Clintons as well as former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush will be at the inauguration.

Former President Jimmy Carter will not attend due to Covid and health conditions, according to a spokesperson. Carter, the oldest living president at 96, and former first lady Rosalyn Carter were at the Obama and Trump inaugurations.

Trump's decision not to attend Biden's inauguration came one day after he finally conceded the presidential election. Without mentioning Biden by name, he acknowledged "a new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20" in a nearly three-minute video.

"My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power," the president said in his first video statement after the riot.

President Trump releases video in response to the Capitol riot

"Now tempers must be cooled, and calm restored. We must get on with the business of America," Trump said of the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The violence left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer. 

The National Guard has moved 20,000 troops to D.C. to help secure the U.S. Capitol and Biden's inauguration after last week's violence.

The troop footprint at the nation's capital is more than the number of U.S. service members in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan combined.