Donald Trump has left the White House after four years as US president, but insisted: “We will be back in some form.”
The outgoing president is heading to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida as he boycotts Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony in Washington DC.
Before boarding Air Force One, Mr Trump told supporters it had been “an incredible” four years and thanked his family, as his daughter Tiffany watched on, shedding some tears.
“As the athletes would say, we left it all on the field,” he said.
“It has been my greatest honour and privilege to have been your president.”
Mr Trump also wished the new administration “great luck and great success” – but said: “We will be back in some form.”
Earlier as he walked out of the White House, Mr Trump said: “I just want to say goodbye but hopefully it’s not a long-term goodbye. We’ll see each other again.”
He added: “It’s been a great honour, the honour of a lifetime.”
Mr Trump is the first president to skip his successor’s inauguration since Andrew Johnson in 1869, and only the fourth to have done so in history.
He did, however, follow at least one presidential tradition, with the White House confirming Mr Trump left a note for Mr Biden – although no further details about the message have been revealed.
Mr Trump held hands with First Lady Melania Trump as he walked across the lawn of the White House before waving as he boarded the Marine One helicopter.
The helicopter took him to Joint Base Andrews where Air Force One was waiting to take him to Florida.
His send-off was complete with a red carpet up to the steps of the plane, a military band and a 21-gun salute.
Mrs Trump also spoke briefly at the event, saying: “Being your first lady was my greatest honour.”
Vice President Mike Pence skipped the event, citing the logistical challenges of getting from the air base to the inauguration ceremony.
In his final recorded address as president on Tuesday, Mr Trump said he will “pray for the success” of Mr Biden’s administration – but claimed the political movement he created “is only just beginning”.
He said: “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. 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.”
Mr Trump’s final action as president saw him pardon or grant clemency to 143 people including his former chief strategist Steve Bannon and rapper Lil Wayne.
Bannon, who was fired by Mr Trump in August 2017, has pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him of swindling Trump supporters over an effort to raise private funds to build the US-Mexico border wall.
Wayne pleaded guilty last month to possessing a loaded, gold-plated handgun on a private flight in 2019 and is due to be sentenced next week.
Mr Biden’s inauguration ceremony will take place in front of a heavily fortified US Capitol, where a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building two weeks ago.
The violence, which left five people dead, prompted the Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives to impeach Mr Trump last week for an unprecedented second time.
He was charged with incitement of insurrection after he was accused of firing up the rioters with false claims that
November’s presidential election was stolen with millions of fraudulent votes.
Instead of supporters gathering to see Mr Biden sworn in, the National Mall will be covered by nearly 200,000 flags and 56 pillars of light meant to represent people from US states and territories.