The first family departed the White House on Friday evening and boarded Marine One on the first leg of their journey to Mar-a-Lago where they are expected to spend their Christmas holiday.
President Trump; First Lady Melania Trump; their 13-year-old son, Barron; and the president’s daughter from his first marriage, Ivanka Trump, were seen heading toward the South Lawn of the White House on Friday evening.
They flew to Joint Base Andrews where the president and first lady unveiled the new ‘Space Force’ as part of the newly signed budget agreement.
The Trump family left the White House on Friday evening to head to Mar-a-Lago for Christmas break. From left: Ivanka Trump; her 13-year-old half-brother Barron Trump; President Trump; and First Lady Melania Trump
The first lady (far right) flashes a smile as she and her family walk toward Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday
Trump’s youngest son Barron towered over his father while wearing a suit and tie. The president’s eldest daughter, Ivanka, is seen far left
Barron Trump looked out at the assembled press corps as his mother, First Lady Melania Trump (right), waved at supporters
The US Senate voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to pass a $738billion defense policy bill that creates Trump’s ‘Space Force’ and gives federal employees 12 weeks of paid parental leave.
Trump is signing the bill into law at Joint Base Andrews on Friday.
The Republican-controlled Senate voted 86 to 8 in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA. The Democratic-led House approved the bill by 377-48 last week.
As one of the few pieces of major legislation Congress passes every year, the NDAA becomes a vehicle for a range of policy measures as well as setting everything from military pay levels to which ships or aircraft will be modernized, purchased or discontinued.
The president makes a gesture with his fist as he makes a remark to the assembled press corps at the White House on Friday
The president and his family departed Washington, DC, after a dramatic week in which he became just the third president in US history to be impeached by the House of Representatives
The first lady’s parents – Viktor and Amalija Knavs – are seen far left leaving the White House with the family
The president also made sure to shake hands with guests assembled at the White House on Friday
Trump and his family are seen boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday
This year’s legislation included a 3.1 per cent pay increase for the troops; the first ever paid family leave for all federal workers, and the creation of a Space Force, the first new branch of the US military in more than 60 years and a top military priority for Trump.
US lawmakers who control Trump’s fate also left Washington for a holiday break on Friday with no agreement over how they will handle the Senate trial to consider his impeachment charges in January.
Trump, a Republican, stands little chance of being convicted and removed from office by the Republican-controlled Senate, which will weigh the two impeachment charges that were passed on Wednesday by the Democratic-led House of Representatives.
Republicans and Democrats are at loggerheads over how the trial will play out.
Democrats want to call top Trump aides as witnesses, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet sent the impeachment package to the Senate, a bid to increase pressure on Republicans in the upper chamber.
The president and first lady arrived at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland after departing from the White House on Friday
Ivanka Trump is seen right chatting with Defense Secretary Mark Esper (center) before the president signed a new defense spending bill into law
The president and first lady are seen above arriving at the base to sign the bill against the backdrop of military planes and flags
Vice President Mike Pence and Karen Pence are seen above arriving before the Trumps at Joint Base Andrews
Ivanka Trump, who is a White House adviser, watches as her father gives prepared remarks during the bill’s signing on Friday
Alan Dershowitz, a high-profile lawyer who may join Trump’s legal team for the trial, said he thought the Senate could press ahead even if Pelosi never sent the impeachment articles.
‘The defendant has a right to a speedy trial and the president has the right to a disposition by the Senate if he chooses,’ Dershowitz said in an interview.
Another person familiar with Trump’s legal team echoed that view.
Many Republican lawmakers prefer a quick trial to get the matter behind them, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has dismissed the idea of calling witnesses.
He said Democrats are delaying because they have lost confidence in their case.
The House will not be able to send over the impeachment articles until it reconvenes on January 7, at the earliest, according to a Democratic congressional aide.
The Senate is due to return on January 3 but will not hold votes until January 6, according to McConnell.
McConnell appears ready to impose a framework drawn from the 1999 trial of Bill Clinton, who was acquitted of two articles of impeachment.
Earlier this week, House Democrats led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi approved two articles of impeachment against the president
That trial featured a 100-0 vote on arrangements that established two weeks of presentations and argument before a partisan tally in which Republicans called a limited number of witnesses, including Monica Lewinsky for a videotaped deposition.
McConnell said Thursday: ‘I continue to believe that the unanimous bipartisan precedent that was good enough for President Clinton ought to be good enough for this president, too. Fair is fair.’
A six-term veteran of the Senate, McConnell is acting very much though he has the votes to ensure a trial uncluttered by witnesses – despite the protests of top Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer.
There’s a risk that Schumer’s protests – which started Sunday with a letter to McConnell requesting four witnesses – could cement GOP unity. Endangered Republican senators including Cory Gardner of Colorado and Martha McSally of Arizona need strong turnout by the GOP base to win, and will be hard-pressed to take Schumer’s side.
Trump, meanwhile, has been hoping the trial will serve as an opportunity for vindication. He continues to talk about parading his own witnesses to the chamber, including former Vice President and 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who led the fact-finding phase of the impeachment investigation.
There is little appetite for witnesses among McConnell and other key Senate GOP allies, however.