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Trump Heads To Florida, Won't Attend Biden Inauguration


When President Trump left the White House for the final time as president this morning, he stopped by to say a few words to reporters standing on the South Lawn. Those reporters included NPR's Franco Ordoñez, who's on the line. Franco, good morning.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: What was the scene?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, it was a somber scene, you know. I mean, this is the last day of the administration. I mean, throughout the White House today, you know, there are people saying goodbyes, taking pictures. There's a lot of tears. There's bare walls with no pictures on them. So when President Trump came out, there was a lot of anticipation about whether he would talk. And it was interesting that he didn't come out in ways that he - you know, he often would in the past. He actually stood a few steps back away from, you know, the press and answered questions - and did not answer questions, excuse me, and just thanked the press, thanked supporters and said it was an honor to do this.

But he did not take any questions about his legacy. He did not take any questions about whether he had any regrets about the last four years, the last two years. And he left and, you know, made that very traditional walk to Marine One and turned and waved at the press before leaving.

INSKEEP: So that helicopter, the green and white helicopter, rises over Washington, D.C. He gets - along with first lady Melania Trump, they get a last look at the Mall. They fly over the inauguration that the president, in a break with tradition, is skipping. He goes to Joint Base Andrews, a military base just outside of Washington. And he gave a sort of departure speech there to a couple hundred family members and staffers and supporters, gave a somewhat inflated view of his presidency and also said this.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have worked hard. We've left it all - as the athletes would say, we've left it all on the field. We don't have to...


TRUMP: We don't have to come and say - we'll never say - in a month when we're sitting in Florida, we're not going to be looking at each other and saying, you know, if we only worked a little bit harder. You can't work harder.

INSKEEP: He also said, we will be back in some form. But Franco, what was left out of that speech?

ORDOÑEZ: I mean, the big thing that was left out in that speech was the Capitol riots that were earlier this month and particularly his own role in inciting his supporters who went and stormed the Capitol. You know - and some of the language, when he says - when I think - hear him talk about leaving it all on the field, I can't help but think about some of the language that he used on January 6 that morning about needing, you know, needing to be strong and can't be weak. You need to take over. You know, we're not going to make change by being weak. I mean, those are the kind of things that really are going to impact his legacy.

And, you know, you talk to Republicans, and they're proud of tax reform. They're proud of the conservative judges that he's implemented. But the reality is so much of his legacy is going to be clouded by the last couple of months, his, you know, constant talk of fraud in the election - you know, wrongfully saying that - and obviously, his role in inciting those riots.

INSKEEP: Yeah. And the president still has not been able to say the name of his successor who defeated him in a free and fair election according to Republican and Democratic election officials in all 50 states, as well as the findings of numerous courts. He was unable again today to say Joe Biden's name, but was somewhat closer to gracious than he has been. Let's listen to a little bit of that from the departing president.


TRUMP: The future of this country has never been better. I wish the new administration great luck and great success. I think they'll have great success. They have the foundation to do something really spectacular. And again, we put it in a position like it's never been before, despite the worst plague to hit since, I guess you'd say 1917, over a hundred years ago.

INSKEEP: Now, people would agree about the scale of the plague, but there would certainly be disagreement about the shape the country is being left in.

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah, no doubt about it. I mean, I thought, you know, that the words that he said about - without mentioning Joe Biden - about the administration were things that I think a lot of people were longing for and that would have represented a very traditional smooth transition of power...

INSKEEP: Had he done it a couple of months ago.

ORDOÑEZ: Exactly - had he done it a couple of months ago. You know, that is something that people really wanted to hear. And to hear it now, it feels a little bit, perhaps a little late to the game here. But it was nice, of course. But again, you know, it left out so much. You know, talking about a foundation, as you note, I think a lot of the people in the Biden administration would say, you know, what he left is a very broken system, a very divided America and a lot of work for them to do.

INSKEEP: And I guess we should say, when we talk about leaving a broken system, that was in some ways an explicit goal of this administration was to break things.

ORDOÑEZ: Well, it was definitely something that they came in - President Trump came in as an outsider. He said he wanted to shake up Washington. And I think there really is no question that he accomplished that. But now you have people from his own administration saying - those from his former administration saying that shakeup may have made things worse than they are now.

INSKEEP: Franco, thanks so much.

ORDOÑEZ: Thank you.

INSKEEP: NPR White House correspondent Frank Ordoñez this morning. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.