News & Politics

How to Watch Trump Leave Town

Looking for a Nixon-in-1974 spectacle on TV? Get up early.

Photograph from June 2019 by Joyce N. Boghosian/White House.

Donald Trump’s presidency ends at noon Wednesday, and he’s throwing himself a party at Joint Base Andrews before he flies away to Florida. The White House has circulated invitations widely, Playbook reported Tuesday, in hopes there will be a good showing for the crowd-obsessed soon-to-be ex-President.

Outside of Andrews, a good number of Washingtonians may be eager to see Trump leave, if the spontaneous celebrations that greeted news of his defeat last fall are an indication. Don’t even think of going downtown. You’ll have to watch his departure on TV.

Unfortunately, unlike the Biden inaugural—which is choreographed down to the minute—details of the pomp and circumstance around Trump’s exit remain opaque, making it hard to plan watch parties, of either the gleeful or sorrowful variety.

What we do know is viewers eager to glimpse Trump’s final walk into defeated ex-presidenthood will need to wake up early. Guests for the event at Andrews have been told to arrive between 6:00 and 7:15 for a ceremony that starts at 8 AM. If Trump travels there via Marine One from the South Lawn—a journey that usually takes up 15 minutes on presidential schedules—that would have him leaving the White House at some point before 8. Typically, media are able to train their cameras on departing choppers, which could offer viewers a Richard Nixon ’74 type visual. It’s hard to imagine that networks wouldn’t cover it. (In the event he decides to drive, the journey down Suitland Parkway would likely not have the same sweeping visual.)

Because Trump will still be President when he gets to Andrews, there also will likely be pool coverage, meaning viewers should be able to see the event as well as the takeoff of the jet that will still be dubbed Air Force One.  Though networks in recent months have avoided running Trump’s speeches live due to concerns about misinformation, farewell remarks might be another story. In fact, unless Trump makes one final break with tradition and ejects the press pool, reporters will accompany the departing POTUS all the way to Florida. Assuming a flight of a bit over two hours, he’d still be president upon touchdown, meaning cameras would still be rolling as he made his way from the plane to Mar-a-Lago.

Here’s how you can watch inauguration coverage, including perhaps the goodbye at Andrews:

ABC News: ABC’s coverage of Inauguration Day will begin at 7 AM. A spokesperson has not yet replied to a query about whether the network plans to carry Trump’s ceremony at Andrews.

CBS News: CBS will start broadcasting from DC at 7 AM, but no word from a spokesperson on whether it may carry the Andrews joint.

CNN: Silence from CNN PR about Andrews, but the network plans a jam-packed day of inauguration coverage. We hear Jim Acosta will be with President Trump on the plane as he flies to Florida.

Fox News: Fox will have correspondent David Spunt on the scene at Andrews, a spokesperson says. Its Inauguration Day special coverage will begin at 9 AM.

NBC News: Nothing from its PR operation, but the Peacock plans a special edition of Today starting at 7 AM.

MSNBC: Not to be outdone by its corporate sibling, MSNBC will start its inauguration coverage at 6 AM.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.