USA Today is covering the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris live. Refresh often for updates.
Biden borrowed a theme from his Democratic convention speech during the summer about choosing light over darkness in the pursuit of public good.
“We shall write an American story of hope not fear, of unity not division, of light not darkness, a story of decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness,” Biden said.
“May this be the story that guides us, the story that inspires us and the story that tells ages yet to come that we answered the call of history, we met the moment, democracy and hope, truth and justice did not die on our watch, but thrived,” Biden said.
“That America secured liberty at home and stood once again as a beacon to the world,” Biden That is what we owe our forebears and generations to follow.”
— Bart Jansen
To the international audience, Biden said he knows that the world is watching.
His message to those outside the nation’s borders, he said, is: “America has been tested and we’re stronger for it.”
Biden promised to repair alliances with other countries and to “engage with the world once again.”
And, as he’s said before, Biden repeated that America shouldn’t lead by the example of the nation’s power, but by the power of example.
— Maureen Groppe
Biden called on Americans to combat the raging coronavirus pandemic as one nation – and said it must in order to prevail.
“My fellow Americans, in the work ahead of us, we’re going to need each other,” Biden said. “We must finally meet this pandemic as one nation. We will get through this together — together.”
Biden then led a silent prayer for the 400,000 Americans who have died from the COVID-19 virus.
— Joey Garrison
Biden noted the resilience of the country enduring through violence, whether during the Civil War, protests 108 years ago against women’s suffrage, or the riot Jan. 6.
“Here we stand in the shadow of the Capitol dome, as was mentioned earlier, completed during the Civil War, when the Union itself was literally hanging in the balance,” Biden said. “Yet we endured, we prevailed.”
Biden said the country was being tested, but would rise to resolve disputes without violence.
“Here we stand across the Potomac, where heroes who gave the last full measure of devotion rest in eternal peace,” Biden said. “Here we stand, just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground.
“It did not happen,” Biden added. “It will never happen. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever. Not ever.”
— Bart Jansen
Addressing those who did not vote for him, Biden asked that they “hear me out as we move forward.
“Take your measure of me and my heart,” he said. “If you still disagree, so be it. That’s democracy.”
Even if opponents can’t support him, Biden said, he will still fight as hard for them as he will for those who backed his candidacy.
“I will be a president for all Americans, all Americans,” he said.
— Maureen Groppe
In a call for unity, Biden said, “Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire” as he called for Americans to “start fresh” and come together to meet the crises of the times.
“I believe America is so much better than this,” Biden said, noting that throughout history America has prevailed over division.
“I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new,” he said. “History, faith and reason show the way of unity. We can see each other not as adversaries, but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect.”
He added: “This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward. And we must meet this challenge as the United States of America. I guarantee you that if we do that we will not fail.”
— Joey Garrison
Biden promised to press forward with “speed and urgency,” saying there is much to do in” this winter of peril.”
Few people have been more challenged or found a time more challenging, Biden said. Many jobs have been lost, businesses have closed and there’s a cry for racial justice.
“The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer,” Biden said.
He pledged to confront and defeat the rise of political extremism, white supremacy and domestic terrorism.
But doing so will require the most important part of democracy, he added: unity.
“For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage,” he said. “Unity is the path forward.”
— Maureen Groppe
Biden welcomed former presidents of both parties to his inauguration, welcoming to them to “this hallowed ground, where just a few days ago, violence sought to shake the Capitol’s very foundation,” to carry out the peaceful transfer of power.
Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama sat behind him. Biden said he spoke with former President Jimmy Carter, who was unable to attend, but whom Biden saluted for his lifetime of service.
But Biden’s immediate predecessor, former President Donald Trump, flew to Florida on Wednesday morning rather than attend the event. Former Vice President Mike Pence did attend the event.
“I thank my predecessors of both parties for their presence here today,” Biden said. “I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”
— Bart Jansen
After being sworn in as president 12 minutes before noon, Biden began his inaugural address declaring, “Democracy has prevailed.”
“This is America’s day,” Biden said. “This is democracy’s day, a day of history and hope, of renewal of resolve. Through a crucible for the ages, America has been tested anew. And America has risen to the challenge.”
“Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate but of a cause, the cause of democracy. The people — the will of the people — have been heard.”
The inauguration came two weeks after the Capitol was under assault by a group of pro-Trump supporters who stormed Congress while it was counting electoral votes.
Biden was introduced to the podium by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., a chair of the Inaugural Committee.
— Joey Garrison
Joe Biden was sworn in Wednesday as the 46th president of the United States, marking the official start to an administration that must now turn its attention to the global coronavirus pandemic, economic turmoil and deep divisions about the state of American politics and leadership.
Forty-eight years after he entered Congress as the junior senator from Delaware, Biden stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and recited the oath of office enshrined in the Constitution – words that have been spoken by his predecessors, dating back to President George Washington.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office.
Facing a raging pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans, the inaugural festivities were stripped of much of their pomp and circumstance, but the symbolism of the peaceful transfer of power – a bedrock principle of American democracy – was nevertheless clear. Lawmakers and former presidents of both parties and members of the Supreme Court, wearing masks as they took their seats, were on hand to witness the ceremony.
Biden, 78, takes the helm at a precarious moment in U.S. history, as the nation continues its struggle with the deadly virus and the logistical challenge of vaccinating hundreds of millions of people. He also enters office just days after a mob supporting former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, underscoring simmering tensions in national politics that Biden must confront to advance his agenda.
— John Fritze
Vice President Kamala Harris took the oath office in a barrier-breaking ceremony Wednesday that recognized her the first woman, first Black American and first South Asian American to hold the office.
Harris, the daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, was sworn in by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a trailblazer in her own right as the first Latina justice on the high court.
She used two bibles previously belonging to the late civil rights icon and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, whom Harris has said inspired her career path, and family friend Regina Shelton, who was like a second mother to Harris and her sister. Harris used Shelton’s bible when she took the oath of office as California Attorney General and later as a U.S. senator.
— Courtney Subramanian
President-elect Joe Biden and wife Dr. Jill Biden were introduced at the inauguration ceremony at 11:18 am. They walked out the Capitol’s west doors, down the steps and were greeted with applause.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and husband Doug Emhoff were introduced shortly beforehand.
It came after former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Supreme Court justices and outgoing Vice President Mike Pence took their seats. The introductions occurred around the same time outgoing President Donald Trump, who is not attending the ceremony, landed in Florida on Air Force One.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., a chairwoman of the Inaugural Committee, began the ceremony by acknowledging the attack on the Capitol two weeks ago by a pro-Trump mob.
She said it “awakened us to our responsibility as Americans.”
“This is the day when our democracy picks ourselves up, brushes off the dust and does what America always does: goes forward as a nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
— Joey Garrison
Ahead of Biden’s inauguration, lawmakers said they were hoping to put aside partisan bickering for the day and were determined not to be intimidated by the attack earlier this month at the U.S. Capitol.
“This is what it’s all about. It’s a peaceful transition of power, not what happened last week,” Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Miss., said referring to the Jan. 6 attack. He said it’s important for both parties to work together. “We’re all great Americans and this country will move forward peacefully,” he said. “It’s a great day for America.”
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said it was important to show resilience after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol and said they were glad the inauguration went on as planned. “Today is about hope and opportunity,” said Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio and the new chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Included among those in attendance were an array of Republican lawmakers who have vehemently opposed Biden, including some who objected to counting Electoral College votes in hopes of overturning results for Trump.
Rep. Lee Zeldin, who was among those, said Inauguration Day was not the time for partisanship.
“On a day like today, for a moment, our country pauses in some of those most spirited of debates, but I am sure it will be renewed in earnest once President Biden is sworn in,” Zeldin, R-N.Y., said. “I think the key is how we debate, and how we disagree.”
Zeldin noted the intense divisions in the country, something he said would take time to mend.
“I’m not going to make believe that our country is imminently on the verge of this perfect healing and unity that is going to start, you know, miraculously two hours from now,” he said hours before Biden’s inauguration. “I think we have to look really, not just in how we engage on these issues short term, but also this is a conversation for long term.”
— Christal Hayes and Deb Barfield Berry
The crowd may be smaller, but there’s still a lot of pomp and circumstance for Joe Biden’s inaugural.
The front of the Capitol is adorned with large American flags. The Marine Band is serenading guests with patriotic music. The arrival of dignitaries is announced over a loudspeaker and with a drumroll.
Tickets for the swearing-in ceremony were strictly limited as a safety precaution because of the coronavirus pandemic, which means a much smaller crowd than previous inaugurals. In past years, the West Front lawn has been packed, and those who weren’t fortunate enough to get a seat were jammed into a standing-room-only section.
This time, seats are spaced six feet apart as a covid safety protocol. And what is normally the standing-room-only section is filled by members of the news media.
— Michael Collins
Trump hands out another late pardon: Judge Jeanine Pirro’s ex-husband
Less than an hour before the end of his presidency, President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced one more last-minute pardon: The ex-husband of For News host Judge Jeanine Pirro.
Albert Pirro, Jr., a former real estate associate of Trump’s, was convicted on conspiracy and tax evasion charges.
The grant can be added to the list of nearly 150 pardons and commutations that the White House released in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
A hatless Mike Pence nodded at the applause as he walked onto the West Front for Biden’s inauguration. An American flag pin was attached to his overcoat. (Four years ago, Pence had to borrow an overcoat for his own swearing-in when his coat was put into the wrong limousine.)
Pence held hands with his wife Karen as he walked through the Capitol one last time as vice president.
He greeted former President George W. Bush when he reached the seating area for past White House occupants. He also chatted with former Vice President Dan Quayle, a fellow Hoosier.
— Maureen Groppe
A bevy of Republicans who worked feverishly to undermine Biden’s win and objected to the Electoral College count on Jan. 6 attended the inauguration – including several leaders of that effort to block the Nov. 3 election results.
Sen. Josh Hawley, the first Senate Republican to say he would object to the election count, attended, along with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who quickly followed Hawley’s lead. Cruz was wearing a mask that read, “Come and Take It,” with a canon and a star.
Among House Republicans, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said he wanted to be part of the “pageantry” even though he repeatedly touted false claims that Biden’s win was not legitimate. He argued that key swing states “unilaterally” changed voting rules to favor Democrats.
“This is as close to pageantry as we get in American,” Jordan told reporters on Capitol Hill before Biden took the oath of office. “This and the State of the Union address, and I just think it’s important that you attend those events.”
— Deirdre Shesgreen
The incoming Biden administration is moving to install interim leadership at the Justice Department, tapping career Justice official Monty Wilkinson to serve as acting attorney general until the Senate weighs the confirmation of nominee Merrick Garland, a person familiar with the matter said Wednesday.
John Carlin, a former assistant attorney general in Obama administration, is President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to serve as acting deputy attorney general until nominee Lisa Monaco can be confirmed by the Senate, said the source who is not authorized to comment publicly.
The moves come as acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen steps down Wednesday.
Rosen has served as the nation’s interim chief law enforcement officer since the Dec. 23 departure of William Barr, once one of President Donald Trump most prominent defenders.
— Kevin Johnson
Eugene Goodman, the Capitol Police officer who led rioters away from the Senate chamber on Jan. 6, is escorting Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at the inauguration Wednesday.
Goodman went viral earlier this month after a video showed him leading a mob of white men away from the Senate floor, potentially saving lives.
In the viral video, Goodman, who is Black, pushes a member of the mob, a man wearing a black QAnon shirt later identified as Doug Jensen from Des Moines.
As a result, Jensen chased Goodman, who led him and the mob away from the Senate floor. The mob followed him into a group of police in a back corridor outside the Senate. Jensen was later arrested by the FBI on five federal charges.
Legislation has been introduced to award a Congressional Gold Medal for Goodman.
— Rebecca Morin
Several former presidents are among the dignitaries arriving at the Capitol for Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Congressional leaders, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, former Vice President Dan Quayle, and others have taken their place on the platform ahead of the swearing-in ceremony.
Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and their spouses were all introduced before taking their seats on the big stage.
Each arrival is announced over a loudspeaker and, in some cases, accompanied by a drumroll.
— Michael Collins
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris arrived at the Capitol at 10:30 a.m. ET before they will be sworn in as the 46h president and 49th vice president.
After exiting the motorcade, the Senate chairs of the Inaugural Committee, Sens. Roy Blunt-R-Mo. and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., greeted them.
Biden held hands with his wife Dr. Jill Biden as they walked up the steps of the Capitol and Harris held hands with husband Doug Emhoff. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell greeted the couples at the top of the Capitol steps before they entered the building.
Biden and Harris waved below after reaching the Capitol’s door. The couples attended a church service earlier in the morning at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.
— Joey Garrison
Security remained a top focus of lawmakers arriving for Biden’s inauguration, a concern looming over the typical celebrations of Inauguration Day.
Lawmakers had been briefed before the event about what should happen if there was an emergency but some have taken additional precautions, such as purchasing body armor, after the attack at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month.
Rep. Susan Wild, D-Penn., had what she believes was a panic attack on Jan. 6 as protesters stormed the House chambers. She says she took several days to regroup after the trauma and had gone back and forth before deciding to attend Biden’s inauguration.
“I don’t ever want to go through again what I went through on the 6th,” she told USA TODAY in an interview. “I hope we have learned something from that experience. And by we, I mean, the security forces who are charged with the responsibility of making sure that Congress is safe.”
Wild said she thought critically about whether she would attend Biden’s inauguration after the attack.
“I kind of went back and forth on it,” she said. “But I am now feeling pretty confident about the security measures that have been put into place.”
Wild said the attack altered her sense of security and “it obviously puts everything in a different light, you start to really be very, very aware of your surroundings.”
Wild isn’t alone.
Rep. Peter Meijer, a Michigan Republican who voted to impeach Trump over the insurrection at the Capitol, said many of his colleagues have been thinking critically about their safety.
“Many of us are altering our routines, working to get body armor, which is a reimbursable purchase that we can make,” Meijer told MSNBC. “It’s sad we have to get to that point. But our expectation is that someone may try to kill us.”
The scenes surrounding the U.S. Capitol have been surreal as thousands of National Guard troops have guarded blocks surrounding the National Mall and most of downtown Washington. Seven-foot fences with barbed wire were erected to further secure the area.
“I feel safe for the inauguration. I like to think it’s an overabundance of caution because no one likes the picture of fortress Washington,” said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss. “It’s a bit disturbing and a picture that could have been avoided.”
Wild said the attack has left members of Congress with a new sense of empathy for those who are targeted in attacks, such as mass shootings.
“It certainly has opened the eyes of people like me who have never been in that kind of situation. It gives you a new empathy and sympathy for people who are in school shootings are or in crisis situations, not of their own making,” she said. “We all wonder how we would react. Many of us in Congress now have a sense of how we would react.”
— Christal Hayes
As outgoing President Donald Trump flew out of Washington on Air Force One Wednesday morning, President-elect Joe Biden attended Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, his only event before he will be sworn in as the 46th president at noon.
He was joined by his spouse Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, as well as congressional leaders from both parties.
The Bidens had a front-row pew, with Harris and Emhoff on the other side of the aisle, also in the front. The couples stood in silent reflection looking at the front altar. All attendees wore masks and were spread out in the cathedral to follow social-distancing standards.
The Bidens arrived shortly before 9 a.m. ET after taking a short trip from the Blair House, the White House guesthouse where the new first couple stayed overnight.
En route, Biden’s motorcade drove on streets guarded by hundreds of National Guard troops and storefronts boarded over with plywood after the Jan. 6 Capitol assault.
Biden wore a navy suit and navy overcoat, both by American designer Ralph Lauren. Jill Biden had on an ocean blue wool tweed coat and dress by American designer Alexandra O’Neil of Markarian.
Congressional leaders who attended the service included Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
Media was led out of the cathedral shortly after 9 a.m. as the service was ongoing. Biden and other worshippers left the church shortly before 10 a.m. ET before departing for the Capitol.
Lawmakers and guests ready for inauguration, ‘renewal’
Biden’s inauguration is a scaled-down affair, and lawmakers weren’t allowed to bring as many guests as in years past, but they were still excited for the proceedings.
Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa, was so enthusiastic for the inauguration, her very first ever, that she went for a run along the river at sunrise. Some Democrats saw it as an opportunity for the nation to change after Trump.
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., called it a “renewal,” and Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., said “maybe our nation can heal now.”
And Pete Buttigieg, Biden’s Transportation Secretary nominee, told USA TODAY it was “really moving” to be at the inauguration, calling it an opportunity to “turn the page.”
Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., reflected on the moment, calling the inauguration, “The symbol of democracy for all the world to see. This is where it began with the ability to transfer power, even against the backdrop of a lot of anger.”
Former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, also a Republican, said he expects Biden to model “better behavior.”
“It’s one of the rites of passage for president and the peaceful transfer of power. The best day we have in terms of rituals, so I’m glad it’s happening,” Flake said. “I think Americans will sleep easier knowing that we have a more steady hand in the White House. Regardless of philosophy or disagreement, we have a steady hand.”
One tradition followed: Trump leaves letter for Biden
Trump has eschewed most traditional roles a president fills during the the transition to a successor, except one: He has left a letter for Biden.
White House spokesman Judd Deere confirmed Wednesday that Trump left a note for the incoming president. Presidents usually leave a note of congratulations and support in the Oval Office, but some had questioned whether Trump would do so given his hesitancy to acknowledge Biden’s victory.
The White House did not release contents of Trump’s note: “It’s a letter between 45 and 46,” Deere said.
Donald Trump’s last day:President leaves a note for Biden before departing for Mar-a-Lago
“We are just temporary occupants of this office,” President Barack Obama wrote to Trump in his own letter in 2017. “That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions – like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties – that our forebears fought and bled for. Regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it’s up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them.”
— David Jackson
Biden to be sworn in at noon
Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. is hours away from being sworn in as the 46th president of the United States during a ceremony on the U.S. Capitol steps embodying the peaceful transition of power that stands as a hallmark of American democracy.
But this will be a presidential inauguration like no other.
Instead of the throngs of supporters hailing from all corners of the country to celebrate Biden’s ascension, the new president will raise his right hand in front of a sparse audience of well-wishers that will not include Donald Trump – the first time since 1869 that an outgoing president has refused to attend his successor’s inauguration.
Instead of thousands of people gathering on the National Mall for the festivities, the traditional parade down Pennsylvania Avenue will be replaced by a virtual parade that will be televised while thousands of National Guard troops patrol the nation’s capital.
And instead of basking in the glow of his convincing electoral triumph, Biden, 78, will be taking over the nation as millions question his legitimacy two weeks after a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol building over baseless claims of election fraud.
All this as Biden will emphasize the need for the country to come together. The theme for the inauguration will be “America United.”
Shortly before noon on the steps of the west entrance of the Capitol, Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, becoming the first woman, as well as the first Black or Asian American, to assume the post.
Then at roughly noon, Biden will put his hand on the Bible as Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administers the oath of office. His inaugural address will lay out his vision for solving the nation’s problems, like a spiraling COVID pandemic and a reeling economy.
While Trump won’t attend, departing Vice President Mike Pence will be there.
Pence has chosen to welcome the incoming president rather than join a planned send-off for Trump earlier in the morning at Joint Base Andrews where, the departing president will climb aboard Air Force for one final trip to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.
Despite the turmoil surrounding the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies Wednesday, there will be some familiar moments: a national anthem (sung by Lady Gaga), a poetry reading (by Amanda Gorman) and a musical performance (by Jennifer Lopez).
— Ledyard King
Biden’s inaugural address to push unity to meet ‘extraordinary challenges’
Addressing a deeply divided nation, Biden will call for unity in his inaugural speech Wednesday in an appeal to “bring the country together during an unprecedented moment of crisis,” advisors to the president-elect said.
The speech, echoing the themes the Democratic former vice president campaigned on, is expected to run 20 to 30 minutes, according to a source familiar with the speech.
After he’s sworn in as the 46th president, Biden will address a nation on edge — one in the thick of a global pandemic that has killed 400,000 Americans and struggling to recover economically.
The speech comes amid heightened security concerns after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress counted electoral votes. Surveys have found more than 60% of Republicans who supported Trump falsely believe Trump was the rightful winner of the election.
Trump, who leveled baseless claims of voter fraud to unsuccessfully overturn the election, is skipping the inauguration. Vice President Mike Pence is expected to attend.
Biden’s remarks will “be a forward-looking vision for his presidency while addressing the moment we are living in as a country,” advisors said, noting the speech is built around a theme of unity.
How does the public feel about Biden and Harris? Keener on the former
Kamala Harris is taking on her new role with less public support than Joe Biden has, according to a Pew Research Center poll.
While 58% of U.S. adults surveyed this month approved of the job Biden is doing, views of Harris were more divided. Half said she’s qualified to serve as president, while 47% said she is not.
Four years ago, 54% of those surveyed said Mike Pence is qualified to be president if something were to happen to Donald Trump.
Most Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents – 82% — said Harris could step in, if needed, for Biden. But nearly the same share of Republicans and Republican leaders said she is not qualified.
Most Democrats said Harris will have the right amount of influence in the new administration. But seven out of ten Republicans said she will have too much.
Kamala Harris will swear in new senators as VP
In her first day as vice president — the first who is a woman, who is Black, who is of South Asian descent — Kamala Harris will swear in three new senators.
Her replacement, Democrat Alex Padilla, will become California’s first Hispanic senator. Padilla and Georgia Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, the state’s first Black and Jewish senators, respectively, will be sworn in at about 4:30 p.m.
With these three new Senators sworn in, Harris will officially be the tie-breaking vote in a 50-50 split Senate.
Harris will deliver some of her first remarks as Vice President Wednesday evening at the Lincoln Memorial as part of the “Celebrating America” inaugural program.
Harris is to be sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and will take her oath on two Bibles. One belongs to Thurgood Marshall, who was the Supreme Court’s first Black justice and a civil rights icon. The other Bible belongs to Regina Shelton, a neighbor and nursery school operator who was like a second mother to Harris and her sister Maya growing up.
—Rebecca Morin and Michael Collins
Trump departs as Biden starts his day
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have left Joint Base Andrews at 9 a.m. on Air Force One, headed for Florida and their home at Mar-a-Lago following a speech to supporters.
President-elect Joe Biden, meanwhile, is attending mass at St. Matthews Cathedral in Washington before traveling to the U.S. Capitol for the start of his inauguration ceremony at noon ET.
‘We are not a regular administration’
Trump bid farewell to supporters and family Wednesday for one final time as commander-in-chief in a nine-minute speech recalling his administration’s successes over the last four years.
“We were not a regular administration,” he told a crowd of supporters, family and staff at Joint Base Andrews, located in Maryland just outside Washington, D.C.
“What we’ve done has been amazing by any standard,” Trump said, recounting the highlights of his administration he has often noted during campaign rallies – the creation of Space Force, changes to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the 2017 tax bill.
The event had the look and feel of a Trump campaign rally, with Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” blaring from loudspeakers as Marine One arrived early Wednesday morning.
The president’s children and their spouses as well as his chief of staff Mark Meadows were all in attendance, lined up along the side of the podium as the president spoke. Trump took the stage as “Hail to the Chief” played over a 21-gun salute and the crowd cheered, “we love you!”
“I wish the new administration great luck and great success. I think they’ll have great success,” Trump said of incoming President Joe Biden, never mentioning his successor by name. “They have the foundation to do something really spectacular.”
“I hope they don’t raise your taxes,” Trump said in one of his only references to Biden. “But if you do, I told you so.”
First Lady Melania Trump also spoke, telling the crowd that being first lady was her “great honor.”
The president’s departure ceremony bucked more than 150 years of tradition of attending his successor’s inauguration. He plans to be at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., when Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president at noon.
“I will always fight for you. I will be watching and I will be listening. And I will tell you that the future of this country has never been better,” he said as he concluded his remark before boarding Air Force One.
“So just a goodbye. We love you. We will be back in some form,” Trump told the crowd, thanking Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence as well as members of Congress. “Have a good life. We will see you soon.”
The crowd looked on as Trump took off as president for one final time on Air Force One, with Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” playing over the loudspeaker.
— Courtney Subramanian and John Fritze
Pence gets brief nod from Trump
After four years of intense loyalty followed by a major break with his boss, Vice President Mike Pence got a brief nod from President Donald Trump in the outgoing president’s final public remarks.
“I want to thank our vice president, Mike Pence and Karen,” Trump said near the end of about 10 minutes of comments before he got on plane to Florida.
Trump spoke at a farewell ceremony at Joint Base Andrews that Pence did not attend. Unlike Trump, Pence will be at President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony.
‘Man without a home’:What the future may hold for Vice President Mike Pence
Pence’s relationship with Trump has been strained since the vice president concluded he could not intervene to stop Congress from accepting the electoral votes on Jan. 6.
After mentioning Pence, Trump also thanked Congress.
“Because we really worked well with Congress — at least certain elements of Congress,” he added as a made a “so-so” gesture with his hand while supporters laughed.
The Democrat-controlled House, with the support of 10 Republicans, voted to impeach Trump last week for inciting insurrection. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Tuesday, said the mob who swarmed the Capitol as Congress was counting the elector votes was “provoked by the president.”
— Maureen Groppe
Trump leaves White House for last time
Trump left the White House shortly after 8 a.m. ET Wednesday on his way to the Maryland base – taking his final flight as president on Marine One.
Trump emerged onto the South Lawn with first lady Melania Trump at 8:12 a.m. ET.
Speaking briefly with reporters, Trump said it was the “honor of a lifetime” to serve as president. Marine One lifted off the South Lawn at 8:18 a.m. ET and toured over the National Mall before heading toward Maryland.
Trump, who is skipping the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, is heading to Joint Base Andrews, where he’ll take part in a ceremony, and then on to Florida. Trump is expected to make remarks at the suburban Maryland military base.
The optics of the departure from the White House was highly unusual: A sitting president generally travels to the U.S. Capitol for the inauguration of a successor. Then, the former president usually walks down the stairs with the new president and takes off from there, a potent symbol of the peaceful handover of power.
Trump, the first president in more than 150 years to refuse to attend the inauguration of his successor, is heading for his Palm Beach club, Mar-a-Lago, which he dubbed the “Winter White House.” The White House has invited hundreds of supporters to a pomp-and-circumstance ceremony at the air base, one expected to feature a red carpet and military color guard – and perhaps a preview of another Trump presidential run in 2024.
— John Fritze and David Jackson
Biden asks surgeon general to resign
President-elect Joe Biden asked for the resignation of Surgeon General Jerome Adams. The request is seen as one of the first steps Biden will take to chart a new course in the federal government’s response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Adams confirmed Wednesday morning that he’d “been asked by the Biden team to step down as Surgeon General” and that it has “been the honor of my life to serve this Nation, and I will do all I can to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve and maintain health.”
In December, Biden announced that Vivek Murthy would reprise his role as surgeon general in the new administration. Trump fired Murthy at the beginning of his administration in 2017.
Adams came under frequent criticism for mixed messaging around the coronavirus pandemic, claiming early in the pandemic that the flu was a greater risk than the coronavirus and later for comments about social distancing in communities of color.