Biden inauguration latest: World waits as militarised capital prepares for transfer of power

 Biden inauguration latest: World waits as militarised capital prepares for transfer of power

Demetri Sevastopulo

Donald Trump departed the White House early on Wednesday morning, hours after pardoning Steve Bannon, his former strategist, and dozens others ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th US president.

The outgoing president and his wife Melania lifted off from the White House South Lawn at 8.18am on the Marine One presidential helicopter, as they prepared to return to Florida where the couple will reside.

Just days after his historic second impeachment for inciting a mob that stormed the US Capitol on January 6, Mr Trump pardoned Mr Bannon, one of the most divisive and polarising people in his political orbit. The pardon was one of dozens issued at the last minute for former politicians, people convicted of drug offences, and the rapper Lil Wayne.

Mr Bannon was charged last year with defrauding hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters who donated to a crowdfunding campaign to build the wall on the US-Mexico border that Mr Trump touted in the 2016 race. Mr Bannon had pleaded not guilty and was released on bail awaiting trial.

Mr Trump did not issue pre-emptive pardons for himself or any of his family members, an idea he had floated in conversations with staff after losing the November election. Most constitutional scholars said he could not pardon himself, but the theory has never been tested in court.

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