In their first show of unity, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier besides past presidents and first ladies from both parties – with the obvious exception of Donald Trump.
Standing behind Biden and Harris at Arlington National Cemetery were former presidents Barack Obama and first ladies Michelle; George W. Bush and Laura; and Bill Clinton and Hillary.
The message of cross-party unity could not have been clearer: three former presidents and first ladies coming together to salute the fallen.
After past inaugurations, the new president and vice-president have traditionally traveled to Arlington, but on Wednesday afternoon the unofficial club of former presidents joined to echo the theme of Joe Biden’s inaugural address. The 96-year-old Jimmy Carter did not come to the inauguration over COVID-19 concerns but congratulated Biden in a message.
The scene of three former and one current commanders-in-chief mourning the fallen together underlined how Trump had made himself an outcast from America’s smallest – and most exclusive – club.
United: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with (from left) Michelle and Barack Obama, Laura and George W. Bush and Hillary and Bill Clinton.
Moment of respect: The three former presidents wait for the new president and vice president to arrive at Arlington
Vice President Kamala Harris (left) and President Joe Biden (right) participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Vice President Kamala Harris (center) and President Joe Biden (right) salute the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlinton National Cemetery
BIPARTISAN ALLIANCE: Standing behind the new president and vice president were (from left) Michelle Obama, Barack Obama, Laura Bush, George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris walk to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday
He had railed against all three former presidents, especially Obama, but had also dismissed Bush, privately calling him a ‘dummy,’ while his one-time friendship with Bill Clinton was shattered by the bitterness of the 2016 election campaign.
The hostility was reciprocated: Members of the Bush family were critical of Trump throughout his administration. Four years ago at inauguration, George W. Bush commented ‘That was some weird s**t.’
In contrast, while Obama was extremely critical of Bush when running for president in 2008, those two families have developed a friendly relationship, especially between Bush and Michelle Obama. Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush became close friends after the 41st president’s defeat.
In his inaugural address, Biden issued a call for unity and promised to govern for ‘all Americans’ Wednesday, seeking to move the nation beyond the presidency of Donald Trump and what he described as an attack on democracy itself in his first remarks to the nation as president.
In a 22-minute address after he was sworn in 11 minutes early by Chief Justice John Roberts, Biden drew a sharp contrast between his presidency and the preceding four years, saying: ‘My whole soul is in this. I’ll keep everything I do in your service, thinking not of power but of possibilities, not of personal injuries but the public good.’
Biden did not mention Trump by name but wove a thread of contrast through his speech. He denounced ‘lies told for power and for profit,’ said ‘there are truth and there are lies,’ acknowledged the bitter divisions in the country as an ‘uncivil war,’ and referred to the MAGA mob which rioted in the place he spoke just two weeks ago, saying: ‘Democracy prevailed.’
He spoke in unique circumstances: no crowds because of COVID and a security clampdown in the wake of the MAGA riot, and for the first time since 1869, his predecessor absent.
Trump had left Washington D.C. with a tub-thumping speech saying ‘we will be back – in some form’ and taken Air Force One to Mar-a-Lago, issuing a final pardon with less than an hour of his presidency left, and telling his friends he will start his own ‘Patriot Party.’
On the dais on the Capitol steps, Biden put his hand on his family’s Bible, held by his wife Jill, and took the oath, then addressed the nation for the first time as the 46th president.
He made unity the theme of his address and also highlighted the coronavirus hobbling the nation, taking a pause and asking for silent prayer for the more than 400,000 COVID dead.
‘To all those who supported our campaign, I’m humbled by the faith you’ve placed in us. To all of those who did not support us, let me say this. Hear me out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart,’ said Biden.
‘If you still disagree, so be it. That’s democracy,’ he told opponents. ‘That’s America. The right to dissent peaceably. Within the guardrails of our republic, it’s perhaps this nation’s greatest strength. Yet hear me clearly: disagreement must not lead to disunion. And I pledge this to you, I will be a president for all Americans – all Americans,’ he said.
He spoke with urgency about the ‘painful lesson’ of recent weeks, referencing the riot in the Capitol that followed Trump’s effort to overturn the results in states that voted for Biden as a historic time of testing for the nation – but also pronounced that ‘democracy has prevailed.’
Joe Biden raised his hand and took an oath to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ the Constitution on Wednesday – starting his tenure amid a pandemic and putting an end to a tumultuous four-year term by President Donald Trump
Biden, in tactic acknowledgement of Trump’s refusal to concede the election, announced ‘democracy has prevailed’ in the opening of his inaugural address
‘The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded,’ Biden said on the West Front of the Capitol just two weeks after MAGA riots threatened to stop the counting of the electoral votes for president in its tracks
Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden kiss after he was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol
Trump skipped the event, flying to Mar-a-Lago after organizing his own pep rally sendoff, telling supporters and family members ‘Have a good life, we will see you soon
President Donald Trump gestures to supporters en route to his Mar-a-Lago Florida Resort as Biden’s inauguration was underway
On Wednesday, with history-making Vice President Kamala Harris on his team, the oldest person to become president is vowing to focus on the virus
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris during the inauguration of Joe Biden
President Joe Biden signs three documents including an Inauguration declaration, cabinet nominations and sub-cabinet nominations, as US Vice President Kamala Harris watches in the Presidents Room
Biden also acknowledged the attack that took place on the Capitol two weeks ago, when a pro-Trump mob interrupted the certification of his victory
‘We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue,’ he said, echoing some of the themes of Barack Obama, who brought him to the White House only to watch his own agenda come under assault during the Trump presidency.
He warned of a ‘dark winter’ and listed the challenges he faces, including COVID, an economy in crisis, and the explosion of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd saying: ‘A once in a century virus that silently stalks the country. It’s taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II. Millions of jobs have been lost, hundreds of thousands of businesses closed, a cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.’
But he said: ‘To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America, requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy, unity.’
And he spoke of his own faith as the second-ever Catholic president, quoting St. Augustine, after a day which began with mass with Congressional leaders, and also spoke of his faith in America, saying: ‘This is a great nation. We are good people.’
The 78-year-old thanked his predecessors of both parties for being at his swearing-in. Former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush attended – making Trump’s absence even more notable. Trump skipped the event, flying to Mar-a-Lago after organizing his own pep rally sendoff, telling supporters and family members ‘Have a good life, we will see you soon.
‘I thank my predecessors of both parties for their presence here today. I thank them from the bottom of my heart,’ Biden said, adding he had spoken to former President Jimmy Carter on the phone the night before. Carter did not attend out of safety reasons because of the COVID pandemic.
Biden also acknowledged the attack that took place on the Capitol two weeks ago, when a pro-Trump mob interrupted the certification of his victory.
‘Now on this hallowed ground where just a few days ago violence sought to shake the capital’s very foundation. We come together under one nation, under god, indivisible, to transfer the peaceful power as we have for two centuries,’ he said.
Biden gave his inaugural remarks after history-making Vice President Kamala Harris was sworn in, with the oldest person to become president taking an oath to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ the Constitution – starting his tenure amid a pandemic and putting an end to a tumultuous four-year term by President Trump.
In his inaugural remarks, Biden declared: ‘Unity is the path forward.
He asked for all Americans to come together and join him. He also asked those 75 million Trump voters to ‘hear him out’ during his time in office.
‘My whole soul is in it today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this, bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. I ask every American to join me in this cause,’ he said.
In his inaugural remarks, Biden declared: ‘Unity is the path forward. He asked for all Americans to come together and join him. He also asked those 75 million Trump voters to ‘hear him out’ during his time in office
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden gesture as they leave after his inauguration at the U.S. Capitol
Biden specifically called for an end to manipulating facts and raging at one another – two characteristics of Trump’s time in office
President Joe Biden is congratulated by first lady Jill Biden, his son Hunter Biden and daughter Ashley Biden after being sworn-in during the 59th Presidential Inauguration
Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC
Kamala Harris is sworn in as Vice President by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as her husband Doug Emhoff holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration
Biden gave his inaugural remarks after history-making Vice President Kamala Harris was sworn in, with the oldest person to become president taking an oath to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ the Constitution – starting his tenure amid a pandemic and putting an end to a tumultuous four-year term by President Trump
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris greets former U.S. President Barack Obama ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden
Former President George W. Bush, from left, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama arrive to the West Front of the U.S. Capitol for the Inauguration of Joe Biden in Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021
Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, arrive for the 59th Presidential Inauguration
Former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle arrive for the 59th Presidential Inauguration
Former US President Bill Clint (L) and former US First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura arrive for the 59th Presidential Inauguration
Bernie Sanders documents President Joe Biden’s inauguration on his cellphone on Wednesday
Family members of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris attend the inauguration of Joe Biden
BIDEN-HARRIS INAUGURATION TIMELINE
8:45am: Attend mass at St. Matthew the Apostle Cathedral with members of Congress
10:30am: Biden, Harris and roughly 1,000 guests arrive at the East Front of the US Capitol
11:00am: Ceremony will begin with an invocation by the Rev. Leo J. O’Donovan, a Jesuit priest who is a close friend of the Biden family.
Andrea Hall, the first African American female firefighter to become captain of the Fire Rescue Department in South Fulton, Georgia, will recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem.
Amanda Gorman, who became the country’s first Youth Poet Laureate in 2017, will read a poem she has written for the occasion called ‘The Hill We Climb.’
Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks also will perform.
11:49pm: Joe Biden is sworn in as president by Chief Justice John Roberts.
Kamala Harris is sworn in as Vice President by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina member of the Supreme Court.
1:40pm: Biden and Harris review the readiness of military troops in a pass in review.
2:25pm: Biden, Harris and their spouses go to Arlington Cemetery to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
3:15pm: President Biden and VP Harris receive a Presidential Escort to the White House.
5:15pm: President Biden signs executive orders and other presidential actions.
5:45pm: Biden swears in Day One Presidential Appointees in a virtual ceremony.
Harris will also swear in three Democratic senators.
8:00pm: Biden and Harris attend the Celebrating America special, hosted by Tom Hanks, Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington.
Performers include Bruce Springsteen and Justin Timberlake.
9:55pm: President Biden and Vice President Harris appear on the Blue Room Balcony.
Biden didn’t mention President Trump by name but his speech was full of denunciation of Trump’s tactics and methods.
‘We can see each other not as adversaries, but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature,’ he said.
Biden specifically called for an end to manipulating facts and raging at one another – two characteristics of Trump’s time in office.
‘Let’s start afresh, all of us. Let’s begin to listen to one another again, hear one another, see one another, show respect to one another. Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured,’ he noted.
‘There is truth and there are lies. Lies told for power and for profit. Each of us has the duty and responsibility as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders, leaders who have pledged to honor our constitution and protect our nation, to defend the truth and defeat the lies,’ Biden said.
He acknowledged the deep divides and wounds in the country.
‘This is a great nation. We are good people. Over the centuries, through storm and strife, and peace and at war, we’ve come so far. We still have far to go. We’ll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities. Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain,’ he said.
Biden also acknowledged the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans and devastated the American economy.
‘We need all our strength to persevere through this dark winter. We’re entering what may be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus. We must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation. One nation. I promise you this. As the bible says, we may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. We will get through this together. Together!,’ he said.
In his first act as president, he asked Americans to join him in a moment of silence to remember those who died from the deadly disease.
‘My first act as president, I’d like to ask you to join me in a moment of silent prayer to remember all those who we lost this past year to the pandemic, those 400,000 fellow Americans, moms, dads, husband, wives, daughters, sons, coworkers. We will honor them by becoming the people and the nation we know we can and should be. Let’s say a silent prayer for those who lost their lives and for those left behind and for our country. Amen,’ he said.
He acknowledged the challenges that face him as he takes office as the nation’s 46th president, including the pandemic, racism, the climate and America’s role in the world.
‘Folks, this is a time of testing. We face an attack on democracy and untruth, a raging virus, growing inequity, sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis, America’s role in the world. Any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways, but the fact is, we face them all at once presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we’ve had. Now we’re going to be tested. Are we going to step up, all of us? It’s time for boldness, for there’s so much to do,’ he said.
He closed with another call for unity.
‘My fellow Americans, I close the day where I began, with a sacred oath, before God and all of you. I give you my word, I will always level with you,’ he said.
‘Together 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. May this be the story that guides us, the story that inspires us, and the story that tells ages yet to come that we answer the call of history. We met the moment. Democracy and hope, truth and justice did not die on our watch, but thrived,’ he added.
Biden concluded his 20 minutes of remarks with: ‘So, with purpose and resolve, we turn to those tasks of our time, sustained by faith, driven by conviction, devoted to one another and the country we love with all our hearts. May god bless America and may God protect our troops. Thank you, America.’
Joe and Jill Biden greeted their predecessors in the White House with hugs and handshakes as they exited the inauguration platform. The couple shared a particularly long hug with Barack and Michelle Obama, who they were close to in the eight years Biden served as Obama’s vice president.
They also greeted George W. Bush and Laura Bush and Bill and Hillary Clinton. The former first couples will join the Bidens at Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in a show of bipartisan unity.
He closed with another call for unity. ‘My fellow Americans, I close the day where I began, with a sacred oath, before God and all of you. I give you my word, I will always level with you,’ he said
Joe Biden hugs his wife Jill Biden after he was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States
President Joe Biden is hugged by his wife Jill Biden after delivering his inaugural address
Kamala Harris is sworn in as U.S. Vice President as her husband Doug Emhoff and President Elect Joe Biden look on
Jennifer Lopez with Vice President Kamala Harris during the inauguration of Joe Biden
Jennifer Lopez performs during the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States
Lady Gaga sings the U.S. National Anthem at the beginning of the swearing in ceremony
Amanda Gorman recites a poem during the inauguration of Joe Biden
Singer Garth Brooks greets Joe Biden after singing Amazing Grace during the inauguration of Joe Biden
Guests and spectators attend the 59th Presidential Inauguration for President Joe Biden
READ JOE BIDEN’S FULL INAUGURAL ADDRESS
Chief Justice Roberts, Vice President Harris, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Leader McConnell, Vice President Pence, and my distinguished guests, my fellow Americans, this is America’s day. This is democracy’s day, a day of history and hope, of renewal and 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, has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded.
We’ve learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.
So now, on this hallowed ground, where just a few days ago violence sought to shake the Capitol’s very foundation, we come together as one nation under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries. As we look ahead in our uniquely American way, restless, bold, optimistic, and set our sights on the nation we know we can be and we must be.
I thank my predecessors of both parties for their presence here today. I thank them from the bottom of my heart. And I know, and I know the resilience of our constitution and the strength, the strength of our nation, as does President Carter who I spoke with last night, who cannot be with us today, but whom we salute for his lifetime in service.
I’ve just taken the sacred oath each of those patriots have taken. The oath first sworn by George Washington. But the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us, on we the people, who seek a more perfect union. This is a great nation. We are good people. And over the centuries, through storm and strife, in peace and in war, we’ve come so far, but we still have far to go.
We’ll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities. Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain. Few people in our nation’s history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we’re in now.
Once in a century virus that silently stalks the country. It’s taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II. Millions of jobs have been lost, hundreds of thousands of
businesses closed, a cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.
A cry for survival comes from planet itself. A cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear, and now a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.
To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America, requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy, unity. Unity. In another January, on New Year’s Day in 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation. When he put pen to paper, the president said, and I quote, ‘if my name ever goes down into history, it’ll be for this act, and my whole soul is in it.’
‘My whole soul is in it.’ Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause.
Uniting to fight the foes we face, anger, resentment and hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness and hopelessness. With unity, we can do great things, important things.
We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome the deadly virus. We can reward — reward work and rebuild the middle class and make health care secure for all. We can deliver racial justice and we can make America once again the leading force for good in the world.
I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days. I know that the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we all are created equal, and the harsh ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization have long torn us apart.
The battle is perennial, and victory is never assured. Through civil war, the great depression, World War, 9/11, through struggle, sacrifices, and setbacks, our better angels have always prevailed. In each of these moments, enough of us — enough of us — have come together to carry all of us forward, and we can do that now.
History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity. We can see each other, not as adversaries, but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.
No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward. And we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you, we will not fail. We have never, ever, ever, ever failed in America when we’ve acted together.
And so today, at this time, in this place, let’s start afresh, all of us. Let’s begin to listen to one another again.
Hear one another. See one another. Show respect to one another. Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated, and even manufactured.
My fellow Americans, we have to be different than this. America has to be better than this, and I believe America is so much better than this. Just look around. Here we stand, in the shadow of the Capitol dome, as it was mentioned earlier, completed amid the civil war, when the union itself was literally hanging in the balance. Yet, we endured. We prevailed.
Here we stand, looking out on the great mall where Dr. King spoke of his dream. Here we stand where, 108 years ago at another inaugural, thousands of protesters tried to block brave women marching for the right to vote. And today, we mark the swearing of the first woman in American history elected to national office, Vice President Kamala Harris.
Don’t tell me things can’t change!
Here we stand, across the Potomac, from Arlington Cemetery, where heroes who gave the last full measure of devotion, rest in eternal peace. And 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 our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever. Not ever.
To all those who supported our campaign, I’m humbled by the faith you’ve placed in us. To all of those who did not support us, let me say this. Hear me out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart.
If you still disagree, so be it. That’s democracy. That’s America. The right to dissent peaceably. Within the guardrails of our republic, it’s perhaps this nation’s greatest strength. Yet hear me clearly, disagreement must not lead to disunion. And I pledge this to you, I will be a president for all Americans, all Americans.
And I promise you, I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.
Many centuries ago, St. Augustine, a saint in my church, wrote that a people was a multitude defined by the common objects of their love. Defined by the common objects of their love. What are the common objects we as Americans love, that define us as Americans?
I think we know. Opportunity, security, liberty, dignity, respect, honor and, yes, the truth. The recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson. There is truth and there are lies, lies told for power and for profit.
And each of us has a duty and a responsibility as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders, leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation, to defend the truth and defeat the lies.
Look, I understand that many of my fellow Americans view the future with fear and trepidation. I understand they worry about their jobs. I understand like my dad, they lay in bed wondering, can I keep my health care, can I pay my mortgage. Thinking about their families, about what comes next. I promise you, I get it.
But the answer is not to turn inward, to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don’t look like — look like you or worship the way you do or don’t get their news from the same source as you do. We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus — rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.
If we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we are willing to stand in the other person’s shoes — as my mom would say — just for a moment, stand in their shoes. Because here’s the thing about life: there’s no accounting for what fate will deal you.
Some days, when you need a hand. There are other days when we’re called to lend a hand. That’s how it has to be. That’s what we do for one another.
And if we are this way, our country will be stronger, more prosperous, more ready for the future. And we can still disagree. My fellow Americans, in the work ahead of us, we’re going to need each other. We need all our strength to preserve — to persevere through this dark winter. We’re entering what may be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus.
We must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation, one nation. And I promise you this. As the Bible says, ‘weep, ye may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.’ We will get through this together. Together. Look, folks, all my colleagues that I served with in the house and the senate up here, we all understand, the world is watching, watching all of us today. So here’s my message to those beyond our borders.
America has been tested, and we’ve come out stronger for it. We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again. Not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.
And we’ll lead not merely by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. We’ll be a strong and trusted partner for peace, progress, and security.
Look, you all know, we’ve been through so much in this nation. In my first act as president, I’d like to ask you to join me in a moment of silent prayer to remember all those who we lost in this past year to the pandemic, those 400,000 fellow Americans — moms, dads, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. We’ll honor them by becoming the people and the nation we know we can and should be.
So, I ask you, let’s say a silent prayer for those who have lost their lives and those left behind and for our country.
Amen. Folks, this is a time of testing. We face an attack on our democracy and on truth. A raging virus, growing inequity, the sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis. America’s role in the world. Any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways. But the fact is, we face them all at once. Presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we’ve had. Now we’re going to be tested.
Are we going to step up, all of us? It’s time for boldness, for there is so much to do. And this is certain. I promise you, we will be judged, you and I, by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era. We will rise to the occasion, is the question. Will we master this rare and difficult hour?
Will we meet our obligations, and pass along a new and better world to our children? I believe we must. I’m sure you do as well. I believe we will. And when we do, we’ll write the next great chapter in the history of the United States of America, the American story, a story that might sound something like a song that means a lot to me. It’s called ‘American Anthem.’ And there’s one verse that stands out, at least for me.
And it goes like this: ‘The work and prayers of centuries have brought us to this day. What shall be our legacy? What will our children say? Let me know in my heart when my days are through. America, America, I gave my best to you.’ Let’s add. Let’s, us, add our own work and prayers to the unfolding story of our great nation.
If we do this, then when our days are through, our children and our children’s children will say of us, they gave their best, they did their duty, they healed a broken land. My fellow Americans, I close the day where I began, with a sacred oath before God and all of you. I give you my word, I will always level with you. I will defend the Constitution. I’ll defend our democracy. I’ll defend America.
And I’ll give all, all of you, keep everything you — I do in your service, thinking not of power but of possibilities, not of personal injuries but the public good. And together 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.
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, that America secured liberty at home and stood once again as a beacon to the world. That is what we owe our forebears, one another, and generations to follow.
So, with purpose and resolve, we turn to those tasked of our time, sustained by faith, driven by conviction, and devoted to one another and the country we love with all our hearts. May God bless America and may God protect our troops. Thank you, America.
Biden also exchanged salutes with General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A military honor guard saluted the new president as he departed as ‘Stars & Stripes’ played.
The Bidens held hands as they walked through the Capitol building after the ceremony
Biden had cued up a batch of executives for signing late Wednesday afternoon to begin the effort to roll back elements of the Trump agenda and demonstrate a restoration to the last Democratic administration.
Biden was planning to sign orders to stop construction of Trump’s border wall, end the ban on immigration from majority Muslim nations, and reenter the Paris climate accord.
Others would get the U.S. back into the World Health Organization, require mask use in federal buildings, and end a 1776 commission conceived as a way to push back against ‘woke’ efforts to take down confederate statues and otherwise reexamine the nation’s monuments and memory.
Biden, 78 and the oldest person sworn in as president, inherits a divided country, wracked by the virus, with millions on unemployment, and huge swaths of Republicans doubting the legitimacy of his election.
Biden was joined on the West Front of the Capitol by predecessors and lawmakers from both parties – including now-former Vice President Mike Pence, who had overseen the counting of Biden’s 306 to 232 electoral vote win in a normally perfunctory count that was interrupted by the riot.
Biden made the coronavirus pandemic a central part of his campaign, and there were reminders all around him of the difficult circumstances the nation faces. Attendees had their chairs spaced out in an effort at social distancing. Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, and other guests wore masks in an effort to limit the spread of the virus that has killed 400,000 Americans.
Just as evident was the constitutional crisis the nation faced, with figures from both parties present as a show of unity and continuity. Former President Barack Obama, who put Biden on the ticket, was there with former first lady Michelle Obama, who made impassioned pleas for Biden’s election.
Biden made the coronavirus pandemic a central part of his campaign, and there were reminders all around him of the difficult circumstances the nation faces. Attendees had their chairs spaced out in an effort at social distancing
Biden and Dr. Jill Biden arrive in the Crypt of the US Capitol for Biden’s inauguration ceremony to be the 46th President of the United States
Supporters of President Joseph Biden celebrate as they listen to him speak during the presidential inauguration on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Supporters of U.S. President Joe Biden celebrate after he was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States
Hunter Biden and Ashley Biden arrive before the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States
Former President Barack Obama and former First lady Michele Obama, Former President Bill Clinton and his wife former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are seen arriving at the Capitol for Joe Biden’s inauguration
Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura are seen before US president-elect Joe Biden is sworn in
A general view as attendees arrive to the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday
General view of audience during the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States
Trump’s contempt for Obama and birther claims helped fuel the president’s rise. Also there was former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush. Bush had been astonished by some of Trump’s rhetoric at Trump’s inaugural address four years ago, and his own dynasty fell victim to Trump’s political attacks on his brother, Jeb.
During the day’s events, a series of speakers pointed to the Capitol riot, praising the peaceful transition in a capitol locked down by 25,000 National Guard forces brought in to maintain security.
‘This is the day when our democracy picks itself up, brushes off the dust, and does what it always does,’ said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), one of a bevy of Democrats Biden defeated in his road to the White House.
Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri noted that there was ‘one political party more pleased today’ just as ‘on every inaugural day’ – than the other.
Biden had lined up other gestures to demonstrate unity of purpose – and his own firm control of the government after Trump spent months calling the election ‘rigged’ and claiming he had won.
After attending mass with Republican and Democratic leaders, Biden planned to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. He was to be accompanied by predecessors Obama, Bush, and Clinton.
His return to the White House would also reestablish norms. After Trump has been out of sight for days, releasing canned video farewell remarks, Biden was to allow reporters into the Oval Office when he signed orders.
His new White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, was to hold an on-camera briefing Wednesday night.
Earlier that morning, Biden orchestrated a demonstration of faith and political power before he took the oath of office – attending mass with congressional leaders from both parties.
Biden and the powerbrokers who will help steer or stall his agenda joined for the service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, where funeral services were held for President John F. Kenned in 1963.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump greet the crowd before boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 – snubbing Biden’s inauguration
Trump gives his farewell speech at Andrews Air Force Base in the last hours of his Presidency. He said it had been an ‘honor and a privilege’
The pair spoke briefly to the media before they boarded Marine One. Trump will give a lengthier speech at Joint Base Andrews
They met in a city under heavy military guard amid security threats following the MAGA riots January 6.
He was joined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said Tuesday that President Trump ‘provoked’ the crowd that ransacked the Capitol and has not said how he will vote on impeachment. Also joining was House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who reportedly infuriated Trump with his remarks on the floor of the House where he blasted Trump’s conduct but still voted not to impeach him.
McCarthy was one of the more than 100 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. ‘The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack by mob rioters,’ Mr. McCarthy said on the House floor Wednesday. ‘What we saw last week was not the American way. Neither is the continued rhetoric that Joe Biden is not the legitimate president.’
He was also joined by Harris, her husband Doug Emhoff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said Trump may have been an accessory to murder through his actions connected to the MAGA riot at the Capitol, and soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, who will oversee Trump’s impeachment after he leaves.
His visit came just minutes after President Donald Trump departed the White House and stepped aboard Marine One for the last time – without engaging in any of the brash ‘chopper talk’ with the press that had become his trademark. Instead, the president flew to a staged rally on a military base where Ivanka Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner other family members and other remaining supporters gathered. Laura Branigan’s ‘Gloria’ was playing when Trump landed.
Biden will be the nation’s second Catholic president. The cathedral is just blocks away from the White House – although getting there would require circumventing a massive security presence with fencing and members of the 25,000 strong National Guard force protecting the city.
The demonstration of unity – a prelude to what was set to occur at the West Front of the Capitol – separated the powerful lawmakers who remain from President Trump, who set up his own separate departure while skipping many of the traditional gestures of continuity. Trump didn’t host Biden at the the White House; the first lady didn’t host Dr. Jill Biden; Trump skipped the inauguration altogether and left Washington before Biden was to take office.
Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, departed Blair House across the street from the White House just after Trump wrapped up remarks to his family and supporters at Joint Base Andrews, telling them: ‘Have a good life, we will see you soon.’
The Bidens traveled by motorcade to St. Matthews. He has regularly attended mass during the campaign and during the transition.
Biden wore a mask – as he seeks to mobilize Americans to mask-up for 100 days to try to stem the spread of infection.
Biden’s act of ritual and supplication came after the Bidens and President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff on Tuesday attended a memorial to the 400,000 victims of the coronavirus at the Lincoln Memorial.
In the split-screen coverage of the transition brought on by Trump’s failure to linger, while the Bidens were gathered inside the cathedral for mass, Air Force One took off with Trump’s rally soundtrack playing Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way.’
Members of the National Guard gather near the U.S. Capitol before the inauguration at the Capitol
As seen from the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, preparations are made before the inauguration of Joe Biden
Just two weeks ago to the day, the Capitol was the target of violence and unrest. Today it will be the backdrop for a new president
A-Rod and Lady Gaga were seen arriving at the inauguration. Lady Gaga will be performing, as well as A-Rod’s fiancee Jennifer Lopez
Donald Trump vowed ‘we will be back – in some form’ as he left Washington D.C. for the last time Wednesday, flying off on Air Force One to Mar-a-Lago to snub Joe Biden – then claiming credit in advance for the new administration’s success.
‘Have a good life,’ he told a crowd of a few hundred supporters at Joint Base Andrews, after listing his ‘achievements’ in a speech which began after a 21-gun salute.
In the front row, Ivanka Trump cried, while behind the maskless crowd chanted ‘thank you Trump,’ before the first family climbed the stairs to Air Force One for the final time.
The military ceremony had the atmosphere of a Trump rally: Gloria was played as Air Force One taxied, and then the YMCA as Trump hugged and kissed his children.
‘We love you. We will be back in some form,’ he told the crowd of cheering supporters before signing off: ‘Have a good life, we will see you soon.’
The farewell resembled one of Trump’s infamous campaign rallies, ending with ‘YMCA’ – the song Trump would depart to – as supporters cheered ‘USA, USA, USA.’
The president paused at times in his remarks. While he did not show tears, he appeared to feel the weight of the occasion while taking time to enjoy the final moments of his time in office. He notably did not mention the name of incoming President Joe Biden.
‘Hail to Chief’ played as Trump and Melania – who was wearing a Chanel jacket, sunglasses and carrying a $60,000 black crocodile Hermes Birkin bag – walked from Marine One to the platform where the president addressed the crowd.
‘We love you,’ the supporters yelled as Trump took the stage after arriving while his children watched on proudly.
‘We accomplished a lot,’ Trump said. ‘We worked hard. We left it all – as the athletes would say – we left it in the field.’
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden arrive for the inauguration of Joe Biden
President-elect Joe Biden his greeted by former President Barrack Obama
Jill Biden, wife of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden arrives for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S
Harris and Douglas Emhoff arrive at the United States Capitol for the inauguration of Joe Biden as US President
Doug Emhoff, Kamala Harris, incoming US First Lady Jill Biden, US President-elect Joe Biden arrive for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th US President
Donald Trump left the White House on Marine One for the final time Wednesday, pumping his fist and giving a thumbs-up as he walked with Melania to the start of a new life.
The only people gathered outside to wish him goodbye were the press, to whom he briefly spoke to them before getting on board.
In a glaring split-screen moment defining the end of the Trump years, Joe Biden was about to leave Blair House, the White House’s official guest house, to go to mass with his wife Jill and Congressional leaders.
Trump was flying to Joint Base Andrews to speak in front of Air Force One to a small crowd of supporters.
The pair stopped briefly to speak to the media before they boarded the helicopter with a stream of staffers hurrying behind them. Melania was dressed in all black and wore sunglasses.
Trump’s early departure for Florida has caused a logistical and security nightmare since he is taking with him the nuclear codes. They will then be flown back to DC to be handed over to Biden this afternoon.
On Tuesday night, Trump made one of his final acts in office granting pardons to dozens of rappers, millionaires and strategists, including his old friend Steve Bannon.
As he makes his way to Florida on Wednesday morning, Biden will begin his day by attending mass with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He will then watch stars including Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga serenade him on the Captiol before delivering his address to the nation and being sworn in.
This year, due to the ongoing pandemic and fears of a security threat, the mall – where thousands normally line up to greet the new President and First Lady – will be closed to the public.
A smaller-than-usual crowd of guests including former Presidents and lawmakers will attend the inauguration ceremony in a socially-distanced manner instead.
Donald and Melania Trump leave the White House on Wednesday morning for the last time to be taken to Air Force One
Marine One lands at the White House to collect President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for the last time to take them to Joint Base Andrews where they will board Air Force Once to fly to Mar-a-Lago ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration
A moving truck drives away from the West Wing of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, on Wednesday January 20
Aids carry boxes to Marine One before President Donald Trump leaves the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021
White House staff members carry boxes to Marine One before President Donald Trump leaves the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021
The White House was plunged mostly in darkness on Wednesday morning as the Trumps moved out ahead of Biden’s inauguration
The only lights on were in the Residence and parts of the West Wing, where movers were seen loading up trucks
Some staffers were seen working at the White House before the sun rose on Wednesday morning
The empty office of the White House press secretary is empty in the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington
In the Lower Press Office, staffers left behind magazines with Trump on the cover
A keyboard and mouse are wrapped in plastic waiting for the new Press Secretary on Wednesday morning
A newspaper addressed to White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany lies on a table in an empty Upper Press Office area prior to U.S. President Donald Trump’s departure ahead of the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Joe Biden
The office of the White House press secretary sits empty prior to U.S. President Donald Trump’s departure ahead of the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Joe Biden, in Washington, U.S. January 20, 2021
In place: The red carpet is laid down at the steps to Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews for the flight to Mar-a-Lago
Trump PARDONS Steve Bannon: President grants clemency to 143 people including White House strategist who ‘defrauded MAGA fans out of $25M’, Lil Wayne, Kodak Black and convicted politicians
Donald Trump has granted clemency to Steve Bannon as part of a wave of 143 pardons and commutations announced early Wednesday morning during the president’s final hours in office.
Bannon, 67, helped Trump win the election in 2016 and was a senior White House adviser. In August last year he pleaded not guilty to charges that he defrauded MAGA donors to ‘We Build the Wall,’ an online campaign that raised $25 million.
Pardoning Bannon in a list that dropped shortly after midnight the White House said: ‘President Trump granted a full pardon to Stephen Bannon. Prosecutors pursued Mr. Bannon with charges related to fraud stemming from his involvement in a political project.
Donald Trump has pardoned Steve Bannon. The former White House Chief Strategist, center, exits the Manhattan Federal Court on August 20 last year after he was accused of defrauding donors in a $25 million border wall fundraising campaign
‘Mr. Bannon has been an important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen.’
The top names on Trump’s pardon list
STEVE BANNON – Former Trump strategist who was charged with swindling the president’s supporters in a fundraising bid for the infamous Mexico border wall
LIL WAYNE – Rapper who had voiced support for Trump and faced up to 10 years in prison for illegally possessing a .45 caliber handgun
KODAK BLACK – Rapper who was serving a nearly four-year prison term for making a false statement to buy a firearm. Received a commutation rather than a pardon
KWAME KILPATRICK – Detroit mayor from 2002-08 who had his 28-year prison sentence on corruption charges commuted by Trump
KENNETH KURSON – Friend of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner who was charged with cyberstalking during a heated divorce
ANTHONY LEVANDOWSKI – Google self-driving car engineer who faced prison for stealing 14,000 files of trade secrets before moving to Uber
ELLIOTT BROIDY – GOP fundraiser who pleaded guilty in a scheme to lobby the Trump administration to drop an investigation into the looting of a Malaysian wealth fund
MICHAEL ‘HARRY O’ HARRIS – Founder of Death Row Records who had served 30 years for conspiracy to commit murder. Had his sentence commuted
RICK RENZI – GOP congressman from Arizona 2003-09, served three years in prison for corruption, money laundering and other charges
DUKE CUNNINGHAM – California GOP congressman 1991-2005, served prison time for accepting $2.4million in bribes from defense contractors
ROBIN HAYES – GOP congressman from North Carolina 1999-2009, convicted of lying to FBI agents during a bribery investigation
And some of those not on the list…
JULIAN ASSANGE – Wikileaks founder facing 18 charges over release of military and diplomatic secrets
RUDY GIULIANI – Trump’s personal lawyer who had spearheaded efforts to defy the election result
JOE EXOTIC – Zookeeper and subject of Netflix series ‘Tiger King’ who hired a hitman to try to kill a rival
DONALD TRUMP – The president had boasted he could pardon himself, but legal scholars thought it doubtful. There were also no pardons for Trump relatives
Scroll down for the full list
Trump has also pardoned rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black who were prosecuted on federal weapons offenses, as well as former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was serving a 28-year prison term on corruption charges.
He will also pardon Elliott Broidy, a former top fundraiser for Trump who pleaded guilty last year to violating foreign lobbying laws, Ken Kurson, a friend of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner who was charged last October with cyberstalking during a heated divorce and Anthony Levandowski, a former Google engineer was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing the internet giant’s self-driving car files ahead of joining Uber.
But notable names not on the list were Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Tiger King’s Joe Exotic, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani or any members of the Trump family, all of whom were rumored to be under consideration.
It also ended years of speculation that Trump would try to immunize himself, an unprecedented and legally questionable step which he had previously claimed he had the power to take.
The list was issued just hours before Trump leaves the White House for the last time and the pardon power, nuclear codes and other trappings of the presidency are transferred to Joe Biden, who will take the oath of office at noon Eastern time.
Leaving under the cloud of a second impeachment and the riot he provoked at the Capitol two weeks ago, Trump wished luck to the new administration in a ‘farewell address’ last night but did not mention Biden by name and still has not accepted in public that he legitimately lost the election.
Bannon had fallen out with Trump after he was quoted calling the president’s son Don Jr. ‘treasonous’ and his daughter Ivanka ‘dumb as a brick’. Trump said then: ‘Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency.’
But the two men have since rekindled their relationship as Trump sought support for his unproven claims of voter fraud, an official familiar with the situation said. White House officials are said to have advised Trump against pardoning Bannon.
Bannon can still be charged in state court in New York, where a pardon would not help him, said Daniel R. Alonso, a former prosecutor now at the Buckley law firm. Fraud prosecutions are frequently brought by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Alonso said.
‘Steve Bannon is getting a pardon from Trump after defrauding Trump’s own supporters into paying for a wall that Trump promised Mexico would pay for,’ Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said on Twitter. ‘And if that all sounds crazy, that’s because it is. Thank God we have only 12 more hours of this den of thieves.’
Bannon was in August last year pulled from a luxury yacht and arrested on allegations that he and three associates ripped off donors trying to fund a southern border wall.
The organizers of the ‘We Build The Wall’ group portrayed themselves as eager to help the president build a ‘big beautiful’ barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, as he promised during the 2016 campaign.
They raised more than $25million from thousands of donors and pledged that 100% of the money would be used for the project.
But according to the criminal charges, much of the money never made it to the wall. Instead, it was used to line the pockets of group members, including Bannon, who served in Trump’s White House and worked for his campaign.
He allegedly took over $1 million, using some to secretly pay co-defendant Brian Kolfage, an Air Force veteran who lost both legs in a mortar attack in Iraq and the founder of the project, and to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal expenses.