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Outgoing President Trump pardons ex-aide Steve Bannon, dozens of others

US President Donald Trump has granted a pardon to his disgraced former aide Steve Bannon as part of a wave of pardons and commutations during his final hours in office. The statement issued by the White House on Wednesday included a list of the names of 73 pardoned individuals and 70 others whose sentences were commuted.

Earlier, Trump has announced that he will not be joining Biden at the inauguration.

It is customary for an outgoing president and other former presidents to sit behind a new president, symbolising the peaceful transfer of power.

“My fellow Americans, four years ago we launched a great national effort to rebuild our country, to renew its spirit and to restore the allegiance of this government to its citizens. In short, we embarked on a mission to make America great again for all Americans,” Trump began.

“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,” he continued, thanking his supporters for electing him in 2016, describing it as “an honour beyond description.”

The outgoing president highlighted some of his biggest achievements, including the Abraham Accords peace deals in the Middle East and his economic legacy and handling of China.

“We restored American strength at home — and American leadership abroad. We built the greatest economy in the history of the world. We revitalized our alliances and rallied the nations of the world to stand up to China like never before. I am especially proud to be the first president in decades who has started no new wars,” Trump said.

“Also, and very importantly, we imposed historic and monumental tariffs on China; made a great new deal with China. But before the ink was even dry, we and the whole world got hit with the China virus. Our trade relationship was rapidly changing, billions and billions of dollars were pouring into the US, but the virus forced us to go in a different direction,” he said.

Trump also wished the incoming Biden administration success and called on Americans to unify around their shared values.

“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,” he said.

The President acknowledged that Biden will replace him as the rightful president and disavowed the violent siege of the US Capitol, which led to him being impeached for a second time.

“We are a truly magnificent nation. All Americans were horrified by the assault on our Capitol. Political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as Americans. It will never be tolerated,” he said, calling on Americans to rise above the political rancour.

Trump also thanked his wife Melania Trump and family for their support, and also expressed his gratitude to Vice President Mike Pence.

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