New President Joe Biden has confirmed Donald Trump left a "very generous" letter for him to open when he arrived at the White House.
While Trump broke with tradition and refused to attend today's inauguration ceremony, he did honour the practice of the departing President leaving a note for his successor.
Biden said his predecessor left a "very generous letter" for him - but that he would not reveal the details until speaking with Trump. Melania Trump also left a "short note of welcome" for Jill Biden.
Trump had earlier told supporters that "we will be back in some form" after he departed the White House for the final time as president. He addressed the crowd on Wednesday morning (US time) just hours ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Biden.
Earlier, Trump made his comments at Joint Base Andrews as he was about to fly to Mar-a-Lago in Florida.
Trump landed on Air Force One in Florida with about one hour left in his term.
As Trump walked to the podium in Joint Base Andrews, he was greeted by a 21-gun salute with ceremonial artillery.
In his remarks, he touted his administration's accomplishments.
"We left it all on the field," Trump said of his time as president.
"What we've done has been amazing by any standard," he said.
Trump mentioned the Space Force, tax cuts, judicial appointments, stock market record highs and more. First Lady Melania Trump also made brief remarks.
Trump also wished the incoming Biden administration well in his remarks.
"I wish the new administration great luck and great success," Trump said.
"I think they'll have great success."
But he also warned that the Biden administration may roll back some of his policies.
"You're gonna see incredible numbers start coming in if everything is left alone, Trump said.
"I hope they don't raise your taxes, but if they do I told you so," Trump said.
Potentially foreshadowing more involvement in politics to come, Trump said "we will be back in some form."
There's been speculation that Trump could run for president in 2024, or that he may start his own political party.
The outgoing president also lamented the coronavirus pandemic, saying that "The first thing we have to do is pay our respects and our love to the incredible people and families who suffered so gravely from the China virus. It was a horrible thing that was put into the world."
Trump added: "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."
Trump thanked Vice President Pence, Congress and his family, saying, "people have no idea how hard this family works." He also praised the American people.
"I just want to say you are amazing people. This is a great, great country. It is my greatest honour and privilege to have been your president," Trump said. "I will always fight for you."
Trump also made brief comments to reporters as he left the White House one final time on his way to Joint Base Andrews. He said that being president was the "honour of a lifetime" and "we love the American people."
WHY TRUMP LEFT EARLY
The reason Trump left so early, Fox News is told, is so that the plane he touched down in Florida on was "Air Force One" — the name given to whatever aeroplane the president is flying on.
If Trump waited until Joe Biden was sworn in, the aircraft would have been called "Special Air Mission 28000".
Trump's decision not to attend Joe Biden's inauguration is unprecedented in modern American history.
Among Trump's accomplishments during his chaotic four years as the leader of the free world the installation of three justices on the United States Supreme Court, more than any president since Ronald Reagan.
He also successfully nominated — and the GOP-controlled Senate confirmed — 234 federal judges. That's more in a single term than any other president in one term except for Jimmy Carter, who oversaw a massive expansion of the federal judiciary.
Trump appointed 54 judges to the crucial U.C. Courts of Appeals, also more than any other president in a single term except for Carter.
Trump also oversaw a booming economy for much of his term, passed a tax cut that is still highly popular among Republicans and redefined US trade policy.
Trump helmed the US through an era full of change, including a burgeoning geopolitical rivalry with China.
To address the threat from that country and others, Trump created a new branch of the military, the Space Force. Trump also oversaw a remarkable turnaround in the functionality of the Veterans Administration.
In the final full day of Trump's presidency, his State Department made a historic determination that China is committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims, a direct accusation of crimes against humanity past presidents have been reluctant to make against other nations.
In the waning months of his administration, the US managed to make significant progress in facilitating Middle East peace, including the signing of the historic Abraham Accords.
But for all his successes, Trump also oversaw a number of failures and controversies.
The coronavirus pandemic killed more than 400,000 in Trump's final year in office alone, and he was often criticised for not taking the pandemic seriously enough and downplaying the seriousness of the virus.
Trump was surrounded by a number of questionable characters.
Both of Trump's 2016 campaign chairmen, Paul Manafort and Steve Bannon, received pardons from the president in his final weeks in office.
So did longtime adviser Roger Stone.
Trump also pardoned former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn after he pleaded guilty — then aimed to withdraw his plea — for allegedly lying to the FBI.
Former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to multiple crimes, including campaign finance violations involving hush-money payments to women who said they had sex with Trump.
Others in Trump's circle who were caught in legal trouble were campaign adviser George Papadopolous and former Deputy Campaign Chairman Rick Gates.
Trump, meanwhile, spent much of his presidency fending off sexual assault accusations and investigations into his business dealings.
And a number of prominent White House staffers eventually left the administration and denounced Trump, including longtime Republican foreign policy mainstay John Bolton, who was Trump's national security adviser for a time; former Defense Secretary James Mattis; former chief of staff John Kelly; former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; and most recently former White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah.
STORMING OF THE CAPITOL
Trump's presidency was punctuated by two months' worth of battles over the validity of the presidential election that he lost, which eventually led to his impeachment this month. That made him the first president ever to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives.
Trump and his allies repeatedly falsely said that he won the presidential election, making claims of widespread voter fraud that were regularly debunked.
Dozens of lawsuits uniformly failed in the courts.
A plea by Trump to Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" enough votes to reverse Trump's loss in the state was unsuccessful.
The president eventually gathered a mass of his supporters in Washington, D.C., on January 6 before Congress was set to certify the results of Biden's victory in the presidential election. After pitched rhetoric from Trump and his backers at the rally, a pro-Trump mob marched across the city and attacked the Capitol, forcing hundreds of politicians and Vice President Mike Pence into hiding.
The sacking of the Capitol was the worst attack on the seat of the American government since the British burned it during the War of 1812.
Trump was impeached one week later by the House of Representatives for inciting an insurrection.
He will face an impeachment trial in the Senate during the first weeks of the Biden administration, which could result in him being barred from holding future office.
TRANSFORMING THE REPUBLICAN PARTY
But nevertheless, Trump managed to transform the Republican Party in his image and garner more than 74 million votes during the 2020 presidential election — although, that was more than 7 million fewer than Biden.
The GOP now is more of a populist party than it has been in a long time, with a fervent base among White working-class voters and growing support among minorities, especially inner-city Black Americans and Latinos.
Where the party has lost ground has been among more educated voters and in the suburbs.
Trump figures to remain a force in Republican politics for some time. With his loyal following making up a significant portion of the Republican base, it will be difficult for Republicans to win primaries without his endorsement or at least embracing him publicly.
In perhaps a sign of a president who will remain engaged after his term, Trump's re-election campaign manager Bill Stepien and two other top members of his campaign set up a firm called National Public Affairs which figures to support Trump's political engagement after he leaves office.
"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," Trump said in his farewell message, released Tuesday.
"There's never been anything like it. The belief that a nation must serve its citizens will not dwindle but instead only grow stronger by the day."