By Oma Seddiq and David Choi
President Donald Trump’s last days in office have been historic: he tried multiple times to overturn his election defeat, his supporters stormed the Capitol in protest of the results, he was impeached over inciting the violent mob, and he’s hit his lowest approval rating — all amid a pandemic that has robbed nearly 400,000 Americans of their lives.
The chaos wraps up an already-tumultuous term personified by broken traditions, from declining to release his tax returns, to regularly firing his administration officials and cozying up with foreign dictators, to name a few.
White House photographers are tasked with capturing the behind-the-scenes moments that define a presidency: the highs, the lows, and everything in between. Pete Souza, former President Barack Obama’s photographer, for example, managed to get up close and personal with the former leader.
Americans have mostly viewed the Trump administration through the lens of uncredited pictures posted on his now-suspended Twitter account, staged White House photo-shoots, and the award-winning shots by journalists who have followed him over the past four years.
Insider poured through these galleries and rounded up some of the most wildly memorable and candid images of the outgoing president:
His taped tie
Telling photos of the President-elect Donald Trump trickled in even before he was sworn in. In this scene, Trump made headlines for his taped tie.
The dismissal of James Comey
“He’s become more famous than me,” Trump joked when embracing former FBI director James Comey, during his first days as president. Their relationship soured after Comey led the investigation into whether Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russia.
Trump abruptly announced he was firing Comey with a tweet in May 2017.
The original White House staff
Before he was commander-in-chief, Trump gained stardom for his “you’re fired” catchphrase on his TV show, “The Apprentice.” That pattern of firings continued under his presidency, when he purged officials he deemed disloyal, or let go of close advisers who later pleaded guilty in federal court.
The glowing orb
This viral moment from 2017 showed Middle East leaders touching a glowing globe as part of a commencement ceremony for a new anti-extremism center in Saudi Arabia.
Meeting with Pope Francis
During his trip to the Vatican, Trump gifted Pope Francis a collection of books written by Martin Luther King Jr.
Relationship with Russia’s Vladimir Putin
Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin has been under scrutiny throughout his presidency. “It’s an honor to be with you,” Trump said during their first-ever meeting at the G20 summit in Germany.
“Made in America”
Trump, echoing his campaign promises, held several events at the White House celebrating America’s innovations in production.
Looking at the sky during a solar eclipse
Trump briefly glanced up at the sky during a solar eclipse, which can cause eye damage without eye protection, even after an adviser warned him not to look.
The kid who mowed the White House lawn
“It would be my honor to mow the White House lawn some weekend for you,” 11-year-old Frank wrote to Trump.
Paper towels for hurricane victims
Trump defended throwing paper towels to Puerto Ricans affected by Hurricane Maria, calling the criticism “a made-up thing.”
Slashing the red tape — literally
After Trump announced that he was slashing government regulations, he stood in front of a huge stack of papers and literally cut the red tape.
Trump campaigned on building a controversial border wall along the US-Mexico border. But the prospects of the grand scheme fizzled out over the years, and much of its construction has yet to materialize.
Trump strained US relations with many international allies when he committed to an “America First” approach to foreign policy.
Two years after their meeting at the White House, rapper Kanye West withdrew his support for Trump and announced his own bid for the presidency in July 2020.
“Fake News” fiasco
Trump has endlessly launched attacks against the media and journalists over the past four years.
During a Christmas Eve call to children, Trump asked a seven-year-old girl if she still believed in Santa. “Are you still a believer in Santa Claus,” Trump asked. “[Because] at seven, it’s marginal, right?”
Fast-food at the White House
State of the Union showdowns
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s clap during his State of the Union speech exploded the internet with memes.
The Trump-Kim talks
Trump became the first sitting president to ever set foot in North Korea during a hastily-scheduled meeting with leader Kim Jong Un in 2019.
Trump v. Pelosi
Trump tweeted a striking photo accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of having an “unhinged meltdown,” though Democrats quickly came to her defense and praised her for standing up to the president.
Trump incorrectly stated that Hurricane Dorian would impact Alabama during a press conference. Although the National Weather Service also shut down his claim, Trump repeated the mistake by displaying an altered map at a press conference.
The US raid that killed ISIS’ leader
Trump was criticized for appearing to stage a photo while watching a military operation that resulted in the successful killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“I want nothing,” Trump’s notes from his impeachment inquiry said. “I want no quid pro quo.”
Following Trump’s impeachment in December, the Senate voted to acquit him of the two charges: obstruction of Congress and abuse of power.
Trump has repeatedly declared that he has “done more for the Black community than any other president,” excluding President Abraham Lincoln, a claim his critics have criticized and described as outrageous and far-fetched.
Dr. Fauci’s facepalm
The US’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, broke his composure when Trump went off-script to speak about the “Deep State Department” during a COVID-19 briefing in the early days of the pandemic.
Campaign rallies during the pandemic
Trump traveled to multiple states a day as he hosted campaign rallies during the pandemic in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election.
Trump did not immediately address the nation publicly as protests erupted across the country following the killing of George Floyd. Protesters who descended on Washington, D.C., were met with law enforcement officials and military helicopters.
“Law and order”
Trump held a Bible in front of a church near the White House, after federal officers cleared the streets of mostly peaceful protesters with tear gas and batons. The alleged photo-op shown live by some TV channels was widely denounced by religious leaders, given the racial tensions at the time.
Trump’s former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, broke his silence to condemn the clearing of protesters by force and the president’s rhetoric against protests generally as making “a mockery of our Constitution.”
Embrace of Evangelicals
Trump frequently touted his support and appreciation of Evangelical Christians, who are predominantly white, despite the claims from former associates who suggest otherwise.
The media interviews
Axios correspondent Jonathan Swan’s mixed expressions to Trump’s comments during a wide-ranging interview became an online sensation.
Trump and COVID-19
Trump temporarily left the hospital where he was receiving treatment for the coronavirus to wave at supporters in a presidential motorcade. He was condemned for risking the health of his Secret Service agents.
Contesting the election
As the ballots were tallied after Election Day, Trump began alleging rampant fraud and inconsistencies with the election process. His campaign launched a bevy of lawsuits that relied on little to no evidence, all of which have so failed in courts.
“If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” Trump said in November. “If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us. If you count the votes that came in late, we’re looking at them very strongly. But a lot of votes came in late.”
After the 2020 election loss that Trump still refuses to acknowledge, the president spent many of his remaining days as commander-in-chief at the golf course. According to a database of his public schedule, the outgoing president has made 321 golfing trips over his 1,148 days in office.
Capitol riots and impeachment
Trump’s speech to his supporters shortly before they violently stormed the Capitol on January 6 will take center-stage during his upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate. The House impeached Trump on January 13 for incitement of insurrection — making him the first president in US history to be impeached twice. If convicted, Trump could possibly be barred from running for office ever again.
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