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President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump wave to supporters after giving a farewell speech at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 20, 2021. (AP) President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump wave to supporters after giving a farewell speech at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 20, 2021. (AP)

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump wave to supporters after giving a farewell speech at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 20, 2021. (AP)

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson January 20, 2021

Shortly before his term was due to end on Jan. 20, President Donald Trump spoke at a departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews before flying home to Florida. The event broke with the tradition of outgoing presidents attending their successor’s inauguration, instead allowing Trump to hold a mini-rally attended by supporters.

In those remarks before a modest crowd, Trump said, "I wish the new administration great luck and great success. I think they'll have great success."

However, the consistent pattern of his political life — a penchant for exaggeration, and even outright falsehood — continued into his last hours in office.

Here are some of the questionable assertions Trump made during his departure speech — the last time we’ll fact-check claims made during Trump’s presidency.

"We also got tax cuts — the largest tax cut and reform in the history of our country, by far." 

This is a falsehood he shared repeatedly during his time in office. (Our colleagues at the Washington Post Fact Checker found that this was Trump’s second-most-commonly repeated false claim, shared 295 times during his presidency.)

In inflation-adjusted dollars, the tax bill Trump signed was the fourth-largest since 1940, and as a percentage of GDP, it ranked seventh.

"The job numbers have been absolutely incredible."

This glosses over the reality that, while the unemployment rate has fallen since its post-pandemic peak of 13.3% in May, it remained at 6.7% in December, two full points above where it was when Trump was sworn in.

"We built the greatest economy in the history of the world."

Even when you exclude the pandemic-driven recession, and even if you look only at U.S. rather than world history, this is False.

While unemployment was near historical lows under Trump, growth in gross domestic product was well below what previous presidents achieved. Other metrics such as wages and business investment ranged from decent to mediocre.

Veterans "can go out, and they can see a doctor if they have to wait long periods of time. ... We didn’t have any of those rights before when I came on."

This is False. After the scandal of long waits and the efforts of administrators at some facilities to cover that up, Congress and the Obama administration passed the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014.

"One of the things we're very, very proud of is the selection of almost 300 federal judges and 3 great Supreme Court justices. That's a very big number. That's a record-setting number."

There’s no question that Trump left an imprint on the judicial branch with his nominations for federal judgeships. But 300 is an exaggeration. The actual number is 234.

That’s more than one of the two recent one-term presidents (George H.W. Bush) but less than the other (Jimmy Carter). It’s well below the recent two-term presidents -- Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

"We just got 75 million votes."

Trump received 74.22 million votes. Trump fell short of Biden’s popular vote total, which was 81.28 million.

This talking point, echoing Trump’s months-long efforts to cast doubt on the election results, is not just a rounding error. The difference between 75 million and 74.22 million is substantive; 780,000 votes is almost three times the combined margin of Biden’s victory in the seven closest states.

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One last time (as president): Fact-checking Donald Trump’s departure speech