'I took on tough battles': Trump delivers farewell speech

 

Donald Trump has farewelled the White House with a video statement talking up his achievements and decrying the actions of his supporters who violently overran the US Capitol.

Describing the fact that he had "started no wars" and had stood up China "like never before" as his proudest achievements, Mr Trump shared what would be among his last public comments as president about 20 hours before his successor Joe Biden was to be inaugurated.

Bleeding support, with even formerly loyal Vice President Mike Pence revealing he will attend Mr Biden's swearing-in rather than a parallel farewell Mr Trump was planning, Mr Trump struck a defiant note in his address.

"We did what we came here to do - and so much more," he said of his administration.

PICS: Farewell address from Donald Trump. Picture: White House/Twitter
PICS: Farewell address from Donald Trump. Picture: White House/Twitter

"I took on the tough battles, the hardest fights, the most difficult choices - because that's what you elected me to do.

"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.

"We restored American Strength at home-and American leadership abroad."

Mr Trump leaves office as only the 11th single-term president and with his polling at record lows, with Americans unhappy with his refusal to accept his November election loss and how he handled the transition.

He sought to put that behind him and to wish Mr Biden well with his pre-recorded address.

"America is not a timid nation of tame souls who need to be sheltered and protected from those with whom we disagree," he said.

"We are-and must always be-a land of hope, of light and of glory to all the world.

"This week, we inaugurate a new Administration and pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous. "

JOE BIDEN'S TEARY FAREWELL

An emotional Joe Biden teared up as he farewelled his hometown of Wilmington to travel to Washington ahead of his inauguration tomorrow.

Speaking at a National Guard centre named for his late son, Beau, who died in 2015, Mr Biden described his loss as his "one regret".

"I only have one regret … that he's not here," Mr Biden said.

"We should be introducing him as president."

Mr Biden's speech was ahead of a short private plane journey to the capital. He shelved his plan to travel to his swearing-in by train amid security concerns prompted by the deadly Capitol incursion earlier this month.

Mr Biden reflected on his term as Vice President to Barack Obama and said he would be a leader for all Americans.

"Here we are today … about to return to Washington, to meet a black woman of South Asian descent - to be sworn in as president and vice president," he said.

"Don't tell me things can't change."

FBI FEARS 'LONE WOLF' ATTACK

The FBI has reportedly informed US law enforcement agencies that followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory and far-right "lone wolves" have planned to infiltrate Joe Biden's inauguration by posing as National Guard members.

According to a report in the Washington Post, an FBI document warned that QAnon devotees and far-right extremists have considered posing as National Guard soldiers in Washington DC to gain access to Mr Biden's inauguration on Wednesday (local time).

In the document, the FBI has reportedly observed the downloading and sharing maps of sensitive locations in Washington DC and they have discussed the possible use of those facilities to interfere with the event's security.

The report however does not highlight any specific threat, pointing instead to "suspicious traffic" picked up from systems and platforms used by the extremist groups.

The National Guard has posted 25,000 soldiers in Washington DC ahead of the inauguration after an attack on the Capitol on January 6, which left five people, including a police officer, dead.

Of the insurrection, outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday accused Mr Trump of provoking the crowd that stormed the Capitol into violence.

"The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people," Mr McConnell said from the Senate floor at the first full convening since the attack.

It comes as the FBI warned law enforcement agencies on Tuesday that whoever built pipe bombs and left them near the Capitol on the day of the insurgence was still at large and should be a "top priority", according to Fox News.

The FBI warned law enforcement agencies that this person could still be active and attempting to make more explosive devices for the Inauguration.

Security concerns continue to be an issue and Mr Biden's daughter spoke about her "worries for his safety" when the 78-year-old is sworn in as the 46th American President.

Speaking in her first-ever TV interview, which aired in the US on Tuesday (local time), Ashley Biden expressed her fears for her father in the wake of the deadly Capitol riots.

Reporter Jenna Bush Hager, the daughter of former president George W Bush, asked Ms Biden if she was "scared for the safety of her loved ones".

 

Ashley Biden, during her first-ever interview on US TV, has expressed concerns for her father's safety. Picture: NBC/YouTube
Ashley Biden, during her first-ever interview on US TV, has expressed concerns for her father's safety. Picture: NBC/YouTube

 

"I think anybody you know that you love who's being threatened, yes, you worry," Ms Biden said.

"However, the secret service are incredible. The violence deeply saddens me. And it causes so much trauma."

Ms Biden also recalled her family being "all-together" when they found out Mr Biden was named the President-elect on November 7 - after he won the state of Pennsylvania.

"After the excitement and things just calmed down, I sat next to Dad … held is hand and you know, I'm just so proud," the 39-year-old social worker said.

 

National Guard troops outside Capitol Hill, behind “unscalable” fencing. Picture: Nathan Vass/News Corp Australia
National Guard troops outside Capitol Hill, behind “unscalable” fencing. Picture: Nathan Vass/News Corp Australia

 

"I truly am proud of my father."

On Wednesday at noon (local time), Mr Biden will be sworn in and the Trump presidency will end, turning the page on some of the most disruptive, divisive years the United States has seen since the 1960s.

 

 

Mr Biden, a veteran Democratic senator who also served as vice president to Barack Obama, was set to travel to Washington on Tuesday (local time) with his wife Dr Jill Biden from their hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

Together with incoming vice president Kamala Harris - the first woman ever to hold the job - Mr Biden was due to deliver an evening address on the COVID-19 crisis, from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

 

Tens of thousands of National Guard troops are guarding Washington DC. Picture: Nathan Vass/News Corp Australia
Tens of thousands of National Guard troops are guarding Washington DC. Picture: Nathan Vass/News Corp Australia

TRUMP ENJOYS LAST DAY IN OFFICE

Meanwhile, top members of Team Biden began their Senate confirmation hearings as Mr Trump enjoyed his last full day at the White House.

Treasury secretary nominee Janet Yellen and incoming secretary of state Antony Blinken were among the names grilled in the Senate ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration.

During her hearing Ms Yellen urged Congress to "go big" and pass Mr Biden's massive US$1.9 trillion ($A2.5 trillion) COVID-19 stimulus package.

"When economists look back on the pandemic, I expect they'll conclude that Congress' actions averted a lot of suffering," Ms Yellen told the Senate Finance Committee, according to the New York Post.

"Over the next few months we're going to need more aid to distribute the vaccine, to reopen schools, to help states keep firefighters and teachers on the job," she said.

 

A policeman checks a truck making a delivery to Capitol Hill. Picture: Nathan Vass/News Corp
A policeman checks a truck making a delivery to Capitol Hill. Picture: Nathan Vass/News Corp

 

"We'll need more funding to make unemployment insurance checks still go out and help families who are at risk of going hungry or losing the roof over their heads," she went on.

Ms Yellen, 74, chaired the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018 and was the first woman to hold that role.

It comes as an unprecedented security cloak further tightened around Washington DC, Mr Trump was widely reported to be readying a series of pardons ahead of his four year term ending at noon, Wednesday, local time.

Outgoing presidents often issue pardons as they leave the White House, with Barack Obama giving a record 330 clemency orders on his final day and Bill Clinton handing out 170 in his final weeks.

But as always with Mr Trump, observers expect something different, with the under-fire president having publicly boasted before that he could pardon himself as well as members of his immediate family.

The notion of a self-pardon is untested and legal scholars are divided on whether it would be possible under the constitution given that it would effectively grant a president the power to judge themselves.

 

 

It came as First Lady Melania Trump released a "farewell to the nation" in which she said "violence is never the answer".

"No words can express the depth of my gratitude for the privilege of having served as your first lady," Mrs Trump said.

"You will be in my heart forever."

The Trumps have shrugged off more than 150 years of tradition by electing to not attend Mr Biden's inauguration and they are the first outgoing First Family in decades to not invite their successors to the White House for a handover.

They plan to leave Washington DC for a final trip aboard Air Force One that will land in new their home base of West Palm Beach, Florida, an hour before Mr Trump loses the presidency.

It will come at the end of a head spinning three weeks in Washington DC, with armed insurrectionists having overrun the Capitol after being urged to march there by Mr Trump on January 6.

A week later Mr Trump again made history by becoming the only president to be impeached twice. If he is found guilty of inciting insurrection in the Capitol siege, a potential second vote could ban him from again running for office.

Separate from his looming Senate impeachment trial, Mr Trump's departure from the White House and his loss of presidential immunity place him in significant legal jeopardy.

 

 

New York prosecutors are probing the finances of the Trump Organisation as well as alleged hush money pay-offs to a Playboy model and a porn star in the lead up to the 2016 election.

His baseless claims that Mr Biden stole a "fraudulent" win from him during his final days in office have also further exposed Mr Trump, with his request in a controversial hour long phone call that Georgian officials "find" enough votes to overturn the election was also labelled attempted bribery by some legal experts.

Meanwhile, the fallout continued from the Capitol incursion that caused five deaths as authorities charged more Trump supporters yesterday.

A New York fireman was among those arrested as the FBI also issued a warning that one Nazi-sympathiser had boasted of stealing a laptop from Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office and attempting to sell it to Russia.

Originally published as FBI's 'lone wolf' inauguration fears


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