Monday 8 March 2021
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Trump farewell: We did what we came to do

Trump counted among his accomplishments higher income of the US, more employment to Americans, 400 miles of rebuilt border wall, tax cuts, regulatory rollbacks, confirmed judges, the punitive actions against China and modest Mid-East diplomatic agreements

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Politics World Trump farewell: We did what we came to do

United States President Donald Trump, in a farewell address, a video of which was released on 19 January, hailed his legacy and wished luck to the new administration of President-elect Joe Biden without acknowledging his successor by name.

Trump has refused to offer a full concession to Democrat Biden who won the 3 November election with 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232. Biden will swear in at 12:00 PM EST (1700 GMT) on 20 January and Trump is not meeting with Biden beforehand or attending the swearing in as is customary in the handover of power to the White House. Trump instead plans to fly to Florida.

Late on 19 January, Trump issued pardons for rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black as well as former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

He is expected to issue dozens more pardons and commutations in his final hours in office. Those pardoned will include his former adviser Steve Bannon, according to US media.

On the eve of his inauguration, Biden led a national tribute to the 4,00,000 Americans who have died of Covid-19.

At sundown on 19 January, 400 lights were illuminated in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, to honour those who have lost their lives to the disease.

The last two weeks of Trump’s term have been dominated by the fallout from the deadly riot on Capitol Hill, when a mob of his supporters stormed Congress, seeking to overturn the election result.

“Political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as Americans. It can never be tolerated,” Trump said in the farewell video, in which he did not acknowledge his successor by name.

Trump himself has been impeached for “incitement of insurrection” over the attack and will face trial in the Senate after he leaves office. If convicted, he could be barred from standing for public office.

He is the first president in US history to be impeached twice. At his first trial, he was cleared on charges relating to dealings with Ukraine by the majority from his own Republican Party.

The politically motivated violence has overshadowed the growing toll from the coronavirus pandemic, in which more than 400,000 Americans have died and 24 million have been infected.

In his message, Trump said his administration built “the greatest economy in the history of the world”.

US stock markets have rebounded from the coronavirus pandemic, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq index up 42% in 2020, and the wider S&P 500 up 15%.

However, the rest of the economy is facing more of a struggle. Employers cut jobs in December, ending a string of job gains. Retail sales have dropped in recent months, while jobless claims rise.

“Our agenda was not about right or left, it wasn’t about Republican or Democrat, but about the good of a nation, and that means the whole nation,” Trump said.

He leaves office with an approval rating of 34%, a record low for a departing president.

Meanwhile, President Trump is expected to use his final hours in office to issue up to 100 pardons and commutations.

Those pardoned late on 19 January were rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black, who have both been prosecuted on weapons charges, and Kwame Kilpatrick who is serving a 28-year prison term on corruption charges.

Donald Trump, in his 20-minute pre-recorded farewell speech, said his administration did what it came to do and more.

Trump counted among his accomplishments higher income of the US, more employment to Americans, 400 miles (640km) of rebuilt border wall, tax cuts, regulatory rollbacks, confirmed judges, the punitive actions against China and modest Mid-East diplomatic agreements.

Trump ran for president in 2016 to shake up the existing political order. He campaigned as an outsider giving voice to those who distrusted the establishment and felt the system no longer worked for them.

“I took on the tough battles, the hardest fights, the most difficult choices because that’s what you elected me to do,” he said.

The unrest and resentment that Trump rode to the White House crested and crashed on the US Capitol two weeks ago, leaving behind wreckage – literal and metaphorical – that will take time and effort to clear.

After four years of shattered norms and traditions, of turning expectations of presidential behaviour on their head, Trump leaves US government changed – fundamentally and, perhaps, irreversibly.

That, at least, was a promise made and a promise kept.

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