By LIBBY CATHEY, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump on Tuesday, on his final full day in office and after having been out of public view for more than a week, released a taped “farewell address to the nation,” seeking to rebuild a badly damaged legacy just hours before was set to leave Washington behind.
“As I conclude my term as the 45th President of the United States, I stand before you truly proud of what we have achieved together,” Trump said in a nearly 20-minute video Tuesday afternoon, in which he didn’t mention President-elect Joe Biden by name even once. “We embarked on a mission to make America great again — for all Americans,” he said. “We did what we came here to do — and so much more.”
Speaking from scripted remarks directly into the camera and standing behind a lectern with the presidential seal, Trump did acknowledge a new administration would take office.
“This week, we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous,” Trump said. “We extend our best wishes and we also want them to have luck — a very important word.”
The outgoing president thanked first lady Melania Trump and his family, along with Vice President Mike Pence and his family, his chief of staff Mark Meadows, his Cabinet, administration staffers and the United States Secret Service.
“Most of all, I want to thank the American people,” Trump said. “To serve as your president has been an honor beyond description. Thank you for this extraordinary privilege.”
“I left behind my former life and stepped into a very difficult arena, but an arena nevertheless, with all sorts of potential if properly done. America had given me so much, and I wanted to give something back,” he said. “Together with millions of hardworking patriots across this land, we built the greatest political movement in the history of our country.”
Trump condemned the riot at the Capitol — for which he’s facing a Senate impeachment trial for allegedly inciting — and called on Americans to “unite around our shared values.”
“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,” he said.
Ticking through what he said were his accomplishments, many disputed, Trump claimed his administration “restored the American dream,” built the “greatest economy in the history of the world,” revitalized global alliances and rebuilt the U.S. military.
“I am especially proud to be the first president in decades who has started no new wars,” Trump pointedly added.
“Above all we have reasserted the sacred idea that in America, the government answers to the people, our guiding light, our North Star, our unwavering conviction has been that we are here to serve the noble everyday citizens of America,” he said.
Trump also warned, in his view, the greatest dangers the country faces as he leaves office “is a loss of confidence in ourselves — a loss of confidence in our national greatness.”
“No nation can long thrive that loses faith in its own values, history, and heroes — for these are the very sources of our unity and our vitality,” Trump said, going on to talk about the shared “heritage” of the country and condemn “political censorship and blacklisting.”
“America is not a timid nation of tame souls who need to be sheltered and protected from those with whom we disagree. That’s not who we are,” he said.
Continuing a theme he pursued as central to his presidency, he said, “We restored American strength at home and American leadership abroad,” Trump said. “The world respects us again. Please don’t lose that respect.”
He added, “I did not seek the path that would get the least criticism. I took on the tough battles, the hardest fights, the most difficult choices because that’s what you elected me to do.”
“Whenever I traveled all along the motorcade route there were thousands and thousands of people,” he said. “They came out with their families so that they could stand as we passed and proudly wave our great American flag.”
“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, closing out his goodbye. “I go from this majestic place with a loyal and joyful heart and optimistic spirit, and the supreme confidence that for our country. And for our children. The best is yet to come.”
“Thank you, and farewell,” he said. “God bless you. God bless the United States of America.”
-ABC News’ Elizabeth Thomas contributed to this report.
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