President Donald Trump in a prerecorded farewell address touted his record on the economy and foreign policy, while glossing over the Capitol riot that consumed the final weeks of his presidency.
He also failed to mention his successor, Joe Biden, by name. Biden will be inaugurated as the nation’s 46th president Wednesday.
Trump’s nearly 20-minute speech, which was taped Monday, framed his departure from the White House as the natural conclusion of a job well done, rather than as the consequence of his election loss to Biden.
“We did what we came here to do — and so much more,” Trump said in the address.
“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,” Trump said.
Trump has previously acknowledged that a new administration will take charge on Wednesday, but he has not formally conceded to Biden. Unlike past presidents’ farewell speeches, Trump’s address makes no specific mention of his successor.
The president’s speech also made just one reference to the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol by a swarm of his supporters — an event that left five dead and spurred the House to impeach him for a second time.
“All Americans were horrified by the assault on our Capitol. Political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as Americans. It can never be tolerated,” Trump said in the speech.
He has denied any responsibility for the invasion. But earlier Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that the mob was “provoked by the president and other powerful people.”
Trump faces an impeachment trial in the Senate.
Trump in the video praised his administration’s efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic, saying the U.S. “outperformed other countries economically because of our incredible economy and the economy that we built. Without the foundations and footings, it wouldn’t have worked out this way.”
Earlier Tuesday, the U.S. topped 400,000 deaths from Covid, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Roughly one-quarter of those deaths were reported in the last five weeks alone.
“We grieve for every life lost, and we pledge in their memory to wipe out this horrible pandemic once and for all,” Trump, whose term ends Wednesday, said in his address.
Trump, who regularly accused media of being “the enemy of the people” and campaigned on a promise to “drain the swamp” in D.C., also dedicated a sizeable portion of the address to warning against “political censorship and blacklisting.”
“Shutting down free and open debate violates our core values and most enduring traditions,” said Trump, who was permanently banned from Twitter following his initial reaction to the riot at the Capitol.
“Now, as I prepare to hand power over to a new administration at noon on Wednesday, I want you to know that the movement we started is only just beginning,” he said.
But it’s unclear whether that movement will include Trump — at least as a candidate for elected office. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., vowed earlier Tuesday that if Trump is convicted after his impeachment trial “there will be a vote on barring him from running again.”