Outgoing President Donald Trump has addressed the people of the United States in a farewell speech during his final day of presidency.
In the address, released by the White House at 4pm (local time), the President announced that he is praying for the success of the incoming administration - without directly mentioning his Democratic successor, Joe Biden. Trump has continued to maintain that Biden won November's election due to widespread voter fraud, despite presenting no viable evidence to corroborate the claims.
"We did what we came here to do - and so much more," Trump said.
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"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."
The President began by thanking his family, including First Lady Melania Trump, his daughter and advisor Ivanka, his son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, and his four other children, as well as Vice-President Mike Pence and his family, the Secret Service, the armed forces, state and local law enforcement, and the American people.
"To serve as your President has been an honour beyond description… it is a great privilege and a great honour," he said.
"Four years ago, I came to Washington as the only true outsider ever to win the presidency. I had not spent my career as a politician, but as a builder looking at open skylines and imagining infinite possibilities. I ran for President because I knew there were towering new summits for America just waiting to be scaled. I knew the potential for our nation was boundless as long as we put America first.
"So 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."
He briefly addressed the violent riot at the US Capitol on January 6, but failed to accept responsibility for inciting the insurrection - despite being impeached for that exact charge.
"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.
"Now more than ever, we must unify around our shared values and rise above the partisan rancor, and forge our common destiny."
In a defiant message to the world, Trump declared: "We built the greatest political movement in the history of this country, and the greatest economy in the history of this world."
The President also discussed the country's ongoing battle against COVID-19, the virus responsible for the deaths of almost 400,000 Americans and more than 24 million infections. In the address, Trump - who has repeatedly come under fire for his handling of the pandemic and for fuelling misinformation last year - again referred to COVID-19 as 'the China virus'.
"We and the whole world got hit with the China virus… the whole world suffered, but America outperformed other countries economically because of our incredible economy and the economy that we built," he claimed.
"When the virus took its brutal toll on the world's economy, we launched the fastest economic recovery our country has ever seen. We passed nearly [US]$4 trillion in economic relief, saved or supported over 50 million jobs, and slashed the unemployment rate in half. These are numbers that our country has never seen before.
"We grieve for every life lost, and we pledge in their memory to wipe out this horrible pandemic once and for all."
Trump also talked through his administration's successes at length, including rebuilding the "all made in the USA" American military; rallying the nations of the world to "stand up to China like never before"; "obliterating" the ISIS caliphate; and achieving a "series of historic peace deals in the Middle East".
"I am especially proud to be the first President in decades who has started no new wars."
Trump then touched on the issue of equal rights, a topic that rose to the forefront of American discourse last year following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed by a white police officer. The alleged murder stoked the global Black Lives Matter movement, sparking protests - some peaceful, others violent - across the US and overseas, including New Zealand. Demonstrators campaigned for urgent change to systemic racism in America's law enforcement and judicial sectors, with several other high-profile police shootings of Black Americans - including Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake - adding fuel to the fire.
"This, I hope, will be our greatest legacy: Together, we put the American people back in charge of our country. We restored self-government. We restored the idea that in America no one is forgotten, because everyone matters and everyone has a voice," Trump declared.
"We fought for the principle that every citizen is entitled to equal dignity, equal treatment, and equal rights because we are all made equal by God. Everyone is entitled to be treated with respect, to have their voice heard, and to have their government listen. You are loyal to your country, and my administration was always loyal to you."
The 74-year-old also hinted at his political future, intimating that reports regarding his rumoured intention to run for presidency again in 2024 could be accurate.
"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."
However, if the Senate votes to convict Trump in his upcoming impeachment trial, he could be prevented by the chamber from seeking federal office for a second term.
As reported by the Independent, following a trial, the Senate needs a two-thirds majority of its 100 members to vote in favour of Trump's conviction, and the penalty is removal from office. If convicted, the Senate then has the option to vote to disqualify the President from holding public offices in the future. In this case, Trump would be prohibited from running again in the 2024 election.
Concluding his final address as the 45th President of the United States, Trump declared: "I go from this majestic place with a loyal and joyful heart, an optimistic spirit, and a supreme confidence that for our country and for our children, the best is yet to come.
"Thank you, and farewell. God bless you. God bless the United States of America."
Watch the video above.