2021 Inauguration Day full coverage: Biden, Harris sworn in

After a tumultuous election and a shocking siege of the Capitol by his predecessor’s supporters, Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States, taking the helm of a nation confronted by profound challenges. At his side was Kamala Harris, who made history as the first female vice president.

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President Biden’s inauguration according to Newsmax, home to TV’s most ardent Trump defenders

Since President Trump’s election defeat Nov. 3, the mantra for Newsmax opinion host Greg Kelly on his nightly program has been, “It’s not over.”

Kelly became TV’s most unabashed Trump supporter as he defended the ousted president’s unfounded claims of voter fraud that fueled a mob assault on the Capitol. His rants found an audience, some nights approaching 1 million viewers, enough to make him an irritant to Fox News, the established choice for conservative viewers.

“Sometimes the bank robber gets away with it,” Kelly said in a recent opening on his program. “Joe Biden stole this election. You know it. I know it. Tens of millions of Americans agree with us.”

But on Tuesday, it really was over. The country watched as President Biden was sworn in outside the Capitol where two weeks earlier pro-Trump rioters had attempted to stop the certification of the electoral college vote.


The mysterious case of the Lady Gaga inauguration bird and ‘The Hunger Games’

She once wore a dress made of raw meat to the MTV Video Music Awards. Then there was her arrival at the Grammys inside a giant egg. But fashion has never been about mere clothes for the pop star. Lady Gaga has always veered toward symbolism. The meat dress was a political statement about LGBTQ+ discrimination in the army. The egg was a “vessel” meant to represent “creative, embryonic incubation.”

Lady Gaga sings the national anthem at the inauguration.

Lady Gaga sings the national anthem at the inauguration of President Biden.

(AFP/Getty Images)

What, then, did the oversize golden bird brooch practically flying off her jacket at Wednesday’s inauguration mean? The artist and Twitter held diametrically opposed views.

Online, people had plenty of opinions. But the one that gathered strength as the day went on was that the brooch bore a striking resemblance to the mockingjay pin from the “Hunger Games” franchise.

Lady Gaga’s interpretation stems from much further back, in biblical times, when Christian beliefs stated that God sent Noah a dove with an olive branch as a message of peace and forgiveness.


Yes, that’s a bust of Cesar Chavez behind Biden’s Resolute Desk in the Oval Office

Here’s another sign of how different the vibe is in Washington tonight — a bust of a beloved Mexican American figure placed strategically close to the fresh work-from-home space for the new president.

President Biden’s transition team selected a bronze bust of iconic civil rights leader Cesar Chavez to place in the most visible position behind his Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, another sign of the tectonic shift occurring in the White House since the departure of President Trump.

The 22-inch sculpture is by artist Paul A. Suarez and had been on display at the visitor center of the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in Keene, Calif., in the Tehachapi Mountains of Kern County. The Biden-Harris transition office requested the lending of the sculpture, the Chavez monument announced Wednesday.

The bust is placed amid Biden family photos, and should be in view for tens of millions of people each time Biden addresses the country from the center of power in the U.S. executive branch.

Placing a bust of my father in the Oval Office symbolizes the hopeful new day that is dawning for our nation,” Paul F. Chavez, Chavez’s middle son and president of the Cesar Chavez Foundation, said in a statement. “That isn’t just because it honors my dad, but more importantly because it represents faith and empowerment for an entire people on whose behalf he fought and sacrificed.”

Cesar Chavez and co-organizer Dolores Huerta founded the United Farm Workers, originating the term “Si Se Puede” (“Yes we can”) and paving the way for labor organizing for generations to come. Chavez died in 1993.

Watch live: Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds first briefing of Biden presidency

Biden announces end to Trump’s border wall project

Biden is immediately ending the national emergency that President Trump declared on the border in February 2018 to divert billions of dollars from the Defense Department to wall construction. He also is halting construction to review contracts and how wall money might be redirected.

Despite Trump’s repeated promises that Mexico would pay for the wall, U.S. Customs and Border Protection says Americans have committed $15 billion for more than 700 miles. It is unclear how many miles are under contract and what penalties the government would have to pay for canceling them.

The Supreme Court has scheduled arguments Feb. 22 on the legality of Trump’s diverting Defense Department funds for counter-narcotics efforts and military construction projects to wall construction.

President Biden reverses Trump’s travel ban

President Biden, in one of his first moves in office, reversed the immigration restriction put in place by the Trump administration covering five Muslim-majority nations — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen — as well as North Korea and some government officials from Venezuela.

The Trump administration was forced to revise its original order twice to resolve legal problems over due process, implementation and exclusive targeting of Muslim nations.

Biden orders Cabinet to preserve DACA

President Biden will order his Cabinet to work to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has shielded hundreds of thousands of people who came to the country as young children from deportation since it was introduced in 2012.

Trump ordered an end to DACA in 2017, triggering a legal challenge that ended in June when the Supreme Court ruled that it should be kept in place because the Trump administration failed to follow federal rule-making guidelines in undoing it. But DACA is still facing legal challenges.

In his presidential proclamation, Biden is calling on Congress to adopt legislation that gives DACA recipients permanent legal status and a path to citizenship. There are currently about 700,000 people enrolled.

Biden cancels Keystone XL pipeline permit

President Biden has rescinded the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, the long-disputed portion of the pipeline system that has been opposed by numerous Indigenous groups and others.

The 1,700-mile pipeline would carry roughly 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta, Canada, to the Texas Gulf Coast, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.

First proposed in 2008, the pipeline has become emblematic of the tensions between economic development and curbing the fossil-fuel emissions that are contributing to climate change. The Obama administration rejected it, but President Trump revived it. Construction has already started, but a Supreme Court decision last year has delayed work.

Biden reverses Trump plan to exclude from the census people in the country illegally

Biden has reversed a Trump plan to exclude people in the country illegally from being counted in the 2020 census. The once-a-decade census is used to determine how many congressional seats and electoral college votes each state gets, as well as the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal spending each year.

Biden’s team says the new administration will ensure the Census Bureau has time to complete an accurate count for each state and that the apportionment is “fair and accurate.”

Biden extends payment pause for student loan borrowers

Biden has asked the Education Department to extend a pause on federal student loan payments through at least Sept. 30, continuing a moratorium that began early in the pandemic but was set to expire at the end of January.

Borrowers, who owe a collective $1.5 trillion, would not be required to make payments on their federal student loans, their loans would not accrue any interest, and all debt collection activity would halt through September.

Congress paused student debt payments last March as part of a virus relief package, and the Trump administration extended it twice.

Biden’s order does not include the type of mass debt cancellation that some Democrats asked him to orchestrate through executive action. He has said that action should come from Congress.

Biden orders U.S. to rejoin World Health Organization

President Biden is directing the U.S. government to rejoin the World Health Organization, ceasing a process that former President Trump had started after accusing it of incompetence and acceding to Chinese pressure over the coronavirus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, will lay out how the Biden administration intends to work with the WHO on reforms, supporting the coronavirus response and promoting global health and health security.

Biden orders agencies to reimplement auto emissions standards modeled on California rules

President Joe Biden has ordered federal agencies to begin rescinding more than 100 Trump administration orders that eased pollution restrictions and relaxed protections of public lands, including reimplementing the strict vehicle emissions standards that the Obama administration had modeled on California’s pioneering requirements.

They will also be ordered to bring back energy-efficiency standards for appliances and buildings that the Trump administration abandoned.

News Analysis: Biden calls for ‘unity’ while warning against ‘lies’

WASHINGTON — There was never a doubt President Biden would call for unity at his swearing-in — the declaration that “we are the United States of America” peppered his speeches throughout the long presidential campaign.

“Unity” appeared a dozen times in Wednesday’s 21-minute speech and as the topic of a proclamation for a Day of Unity that the new president signed shortly after he took the oath of office.

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‘Grim and beautiful,’ Biden’s inauguration a day of jarring juxtapositions

WASHINGTON — On television, at least at certain moments, it may have looked like it always has — the hand on an old Bible, the Marine Band’s brassy rendition of “Hail to the Chief,” the audience of dignitaries.

But when Joseph R. Biden descended the steps onto the inauguration platform bedecked with red, white and blue bunting, he passed through a brass door with a large crack in its glass panel, lingering evidence of the deadly siege of the U.S. Capitol building two weeks earlier.

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Joe Biden has a bust of Cesar Chavez behind his desk in the Oval Office

President Biden issues executive action for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris climate accord

President Biden has issued an executive action calling for the U.S. to rejoin the 2015 Paris climate accord, reversing the country’s exit completed in November by the Trump administration.

The agreement aims to keep the increase in average temperatures worldwide “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and ideally no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, compared with preindustrial levels.

The Paris accord requires countries to set their own voluntary targets for reducing greenhouse gases and to steadily increase those goals every few years. The only binding requirement is that nations accurately report on their efforts.

Alex Padilla sworn in as California’s first Latino U.S. senator

WASHINGTON — With his mother’s Bible in hand and his political mentors at his side, Alex Padilla on Wednesday became the first Latino to represent California in the U.S. Senate.

The COVID-19 pandemic and security concerns following the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol kept Padilla’s wife, Angela, and three sons from attending.

“It breaks my heart to not have my family at my side when I raise my right hand. It’s a big moment,” Padilla said in an interview beforehand. “It was tricky enough trying to think through how do we travel as a family cross-country during the COVID-19 pandemic and stay healthy. But with the events of the 6th and the security measures being put in place, it just made sense for the family to stay back.”

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Democrats poised to take over Congress, but advancing Biden agenda will be a struggle

WASHINGTON — When the Senate convenes this afternoon, Democrats will have more muscle in Washington than they have had in a decade, controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress — but exercising it is already proving fraught.

Their hopes of pushing ahead with President Biden’s robust policy agenda are tempered by thin majorities in both the House and Senate, a contentious impeachment trial that will drain oxygen and a GOP minority with many tools at its disposal to gum up the works.

The elation Democrats experience Wednesday afternoon at taking the gavel from outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) comes with anxiety about being able to deliver on the promises on which Biden built his campaign: a massive stimulus package, student debt relief, climate action, immigration reform and a vast expansion of the Affordable Care Act.

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For some Americans, inauguration reassures: ‘We’re going to be OK’

Javier Torres’ 8-year-old daughter, Shikeyah, often “grumped and groaned” when starting an online school day, the Phoenix dad said. But on Wednesday, she bounded excitedly out of bed.

“She popped up and said, ‘It’s the inauguration!’” said Torres, a 43-year-old attorney. Shikeyah put on her Kamala Harris T-shirt for the occasion — the elaborately choreographed national ritual taking place 2,300 miles away, on a cold, blustery day in Washington.

With millions of Americans watching on cellphones or laptops or television, and before a pandemic-thinned in-person audience of dignitaries and former presidents, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took their oaths of office on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, besieged two weeks earlier by an extremist mob.


Biden in White House for 1st time as president

President Biden has entered the White House for the first time Wednesday as chief executive after walking an abbreviated parade route, still wearing his protective mask amid sounds of “Hail to the Chief.”

The 46th president and First Lady Jill Biden walked through a military cordon lining the White House driveway with the flags of U.S. states, leading the first couple to the main entrance under the North Portico.

Biden was expected to immediately begin working, with a stack of executive orders on immigration and other matters awaiting his signature.

The final ceremonial flourish completed an abbreviated inaugural afternoon unlike any Washington has seen, with Biden being seen in person by only a relative smattering of Americans because of security lockdowns after the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and public health protocols amid the ongoing pandemic.

Who is Natalie Biden, style icon of the inauguration?

Step aside, Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga. America has found a new inauguration “style icon” in Natalie Biden.

Natalie, one of seven grandchildren of President Biden, was one of the fashionable standouts at the presidential inauguration Wednesday in Washington. The 16-year-old stole the runway show with a monochromatic pink coat and matching mask among a sea of purple and blue shades worn by Vice President Kamala Harris, former First Lady Michelle Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Natalie’s grandmother, First Lady Jill Biden.

Social media were buzzing about the younger Biden’s all-pink look along with the Miu Miu coat worn by Ella Emhoff, the vice president’s stepdaughter. We’ll likely get to know more about the eldest child of the president’s late son, Beau, and his widow, Hallie, as President Biden’s administration commences.

Casual Bernie Sanders goes viral as today’s unexpected meme

Sen. Bernie Sanders certainly felt the icy burn of the cold day at the U.S. Capitol as well as that of the pithy Twitter users who couldn’t get enough of his casual Inauguration Day look.

The Vermont senator became an unexpected meme during Wednesday’s festivities after being photographed appearing extremely uncomfortable and cold while parked in his seat ahead of the ceremony in Washington.

Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Jill Biden and inauguration performers Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez catalyzed numerous articles and tweets about their symbolic wardrobe choices for the auspicious occasion.

But Sanders, a former presidential hopeful who became an important ally to President Biden during the 2020 campaign, made a sartorial statement all his own.

Read President Biden’s inaugural address transcript

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.

Biden, Harris pay respects to fallen vets at Arlington

President Biden has spent a few of the first moments of his term at Arlington National Cemetery, honoring fallen veterans with three former presidents and their families.

The president, First Lady Jill Biden and newly sworn-in Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, presided over a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider on Wednesday.

After cannon fire rumbled in the distance, Biden saluted as a military band played the national anthem.

Biden and Harris later briefly touched the wreath before bowing their heads in prayer. The president also made the sign of the cross, then he and Harris stood somberly for the playing of taps.

Joining them at the ceremony were former President Obama and his wife, Michelle, former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, and former President Clinton and his wife, Hillary.

Former President Trump flew to Florida before Biden was sworn into office.

Small crowd watches inauguration ceremony on their phones

A crowd of several hundred pressed close to the fence blocking access to the National Mall on Wednesday to catch a glimpse of a distant figure being sworn in as president on the U.S. Capitol’s West Front.

On the other side of the fence stood a perfectly spaced line of National Guard troops, stretching as far as the eye could see, summoned to protect the inauguration after a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6 stormed and occupied the U.S. Capitol, leaving five dead, including a police officer.

Spectators cheered as the newly sworn-in president, Joe Biden, said his administration would defeat the kind of domestic terrorism that forced Washington to lock down in advance of this historic day.

Though there were familiar scenes — vendors hawking President Biden and Vice President Harris T-shirts, hot pretzels and small American flags — the contrast with past inaugurals was unavoidable. Being kept so far from the Capitol and without mega screens broadcasting the ceremony, spectators instead watched the ceremony on their phones.

Ian Valles rubbed the back of his partner, Scott Vandine, as they followed the swearing-in on a phone. Despite the threats of violence, the couple had taken a train from Brooklyn, N.Y., to be present at the inauguration — to send a message.

“They were not going to stop us,” Vandine said. “They are not going to stop democracy. We came to say we are not going to back down and be scared of anyone.”

Biden staffers get to work at White House

President Biden’s team has started moving into the White House.

The building began humming again with activity a few hours after Biden’s inauguration Wednesday as staff for the new president started moving into their offices, unpacking belongings and getting the badges that grant them easy access to the property.

New press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that she was “in the building and ready to get to work.” Psaki has scheduled the new administration’s first White House news briefing for later Wednesday.

Biden plans to sign a flurry of executive orders, some overturning actions by President Trump, once he gets to the Oval Office.

The White House had been largely emptied of staff after Trump flew to Florida on Wednesday morning, skipping his successor’s swearing-in.

Who wore what and why it matters

Style-wise, Inauguration Day 2021 was short on surprises and long on symbolism, both at the top of the ticket and among those who gathered in support of the new Biden administration on Wednesday on the steps of the Capitol.

Here’s a quick look at what was worn by the new president, first lady, vice president and second gentleman — and why it matters.

President Biden

In the run-up to the big day, it had been rumored that the incoming commander in chief would be sworn in wearing a Ralph Lauren suit, a selection foreshadowed, perhaps, by his choice of a Ralph Lauren polo shirt (with a very visible outsized logo) to his COVID-19 vaccination this month.

And, indeed, he did on Wednesday, opting for a Ralph Lauren navy blue suit, a navy blue mask (made from the same fabric as the suit), a necktie in a slightly lighter shade of blue and a navy blue overcoat. The first-ever second gentleman, Doug Emhoff, also went with Ralph Lauren, wearing what appeared to be a charcoal gray suit under a double-breasted overcoat.


Biden, Harris inspect troops from Capitol steps

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have taken part in the traditional inaugural military tradition of “Pass in Review.”

Biden, Harris and their spouses stood Wednesday on the East Front steps of the U.S. Capitol to observe the procession of ceremonial military regiments.

Several groupings passed by the steps, with military members saluting the newly minted president and musicians playing traditional patriotic tunes.

The inaugural parade that typically follows was to be replaced by a virtual parade later in the day because of concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Following the procession, the couples climbed into vehicles to travel to Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They were to be joined by the former presidents who attended the earlier inaugural ceremony.

The inside story of Bernie Sanders’ ‘grumpy chic’ mittens

Bernie Sanders’ mittens were internet-famous long before he struck the pose at the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday morning that would come to be known as “grumpy chic.”

The gloves — made from repurposed wool sweaters and lined with fleece made from recycled plastic bottles — first blew up when Sanders wore them a year ago, in January 2020, at the Seacoast Women’s March in Portsmouth, N.H. He was then still a front-runner in the Democratic primary race — and Donald Trump was about to begin his first impeachment trial.

“We are in an important moment, a moment when the entire world is watching,” Sanders said at the time. “I could say a lot of bad things about Trump and I do — every day. But what I want to say is that the function of a president is to bring people together, whether they are white, Black, straight or gay. We cannot accept the divisiveness of this president who is trying to tear us apart by pitting one group against another.”


Celebrities cheer as Biden and Harris sworn in

As President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took their oaths of office Wednesday, celebrities on Twitter cheered on the historic moment — particularly the ascension of a woman to one of the country’s highest offices — during a diverse inauguration ceremony.

While history was being made several times over during the inauguration of the 46th president of the United States, Hollywood hailed the new Madam Vice President, breathed a sigh of relief over the departure of President Trump and gave shout-outs to performers Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks, as well as the ceremony’s breakout star, poet Amanda Gorman.


Watch and read Amanda Gorman’s poem

Clad in a long yellow coat and crisp white shirt, with a ruby red headband atop her braids, 22-year-old Amanda Gorman took the podium in front of the Capitol building Wednesday morning to read “The Hill We Climb” on the occasion of President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

“Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world . . .”

She glowed.

The Los Angeles native was handpicked by the first lady, an English professor who will continue to work in education after entering the White House.

Back home, all of California rooted for the young poet and activist, from Gov. Gavin Newsom to the keepers of the Los Angeles Public Library.

Across the nation — and indeed throughout the world— audiences watched as the “Hamilton”-loving daughter of a single mother recited a poem that looks ahead, without ignoring the historic upheaval the country has recently endured. Below is a transcription of her poem.


Congress presents Biden, Harris with gifts

Congressional leaders have presented President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris with a variety of gifts, including a pair of flags flown over the U.S. Capitol during the inauguration.

The presentations to the officials and their respective spouses happened Wednesday in lieu of a congressional luncheon that typically follows the inauguration ceremony.

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said Lenox had crafted a pair of commemorative vases for Biden and Harris, each weighing 32 pounds.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell gifted them with the U.S. flags that were flown over the Capitol during the inauguration. McConnell noted that both Biden and Harris served in the Senate and “skipped the House altogether.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer presented photos from Wednesday’s ceremony.

Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri noted that the Smithsonian had loaned a painting titled “Landscape with Rainbow” by a notable Black painter from around the time of the Civil War.

Three Supreme Court justices skip inauguration due to coronavirus concerns

The Supreme Court’s three oldest justices did not attend the Biden inauguration due to concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

Justices Stephen G. Breyer, 82; Clarence Thomas, 72; and Samuel A. Alito Jr., 70, did not join their colleagues at the Capitol for the historic day.

“They elected not to attend the inauguration ceremony in light of the public health risks posed by the COVID pandemic,” said Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg in an email.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. carried out his duty of administering the oath of office to President Biden. Justice Sonia Sotomayor administered the oath to Vice President Kamala Harris.


Trump administration holdover to lead Pentagon until Biden’s choice confirmed

One Trump appointee gave way to another as the Pentagon’s temporary chief.

At 12:01 p.m. Wednesday, the military announced that Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist has been tapped to lead the Pentagon until Biden’s nominee, retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, is expected to be confirmed by the Senate.

Norquist takes over for another acting Defense secretary, Christopher Miller, a mid-level White House official who has helmed the Pentagon since Trump in November fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Miller, who told reporters days ago that he couldn’t “wait to leave this job,” officially departed his post with the end of the Trump administration. He carried out a series of controversial moves in his brief time in office and was viewed suspiciously by Biden transition officials.

“At 12:01 p.m., Jan. 20, David L. Norquist assumed the duties of Acting Secretary of Defense. In his capacity as acting secretary, Norquist will maintain continuity and readiness of the Department until a defense secretary is confirmed,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

Norquist has been the deputy secretary since July 2019.

Norquist will leave the job when Biden’s pick is confirmed by the Senate. Austin must win a waiver from both Houses of Congress, however, before the Senate can confirm him to the post. The waiver is required under a law that bars retired officers from running the Pentagon unless they have been out of uniform for at least seven years. Austin retired in 2016.

Here’s what’s planned the rest of today

The official swearing-in ceremony for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris has concluded, but more events are planned throughout the day.

Following his departure from the platform, Biden was expected to sign paperwork in the President’s Room within the U.S. Capitol. Afterward, he reviews troops outside the Capitol before departing and traveling to Arlington National Cemetery for a ceremony with former presidents in attendance.

Later Wednesday, Biden is expected to make his official arrival at the White House as president before a virtual inaugural parade.

Watch Biden’s full inaugural address

After a half century as senator and vice president, Joe Biden will assume the presidency at a time of health, economic and societal crises.

Braced for clashes, Washington is mostly empty and quiet

WASHINGTON — Determined not to repeat the disastrous security failures that permitted a pro-Trump mob to storm and occupy the U.S. Capitol earlier this month, federal authorities transformed Washington on the day of President Biden’s inauguration into a militarized territory patrolled by more than 25,000 troops and police officers.

This time, they were prepared for the worst. But the worst stayed home.

The inauguration’s celebratory events at the White House and the Capitol failed to attract more than a handful of protesters, most of whom were trying to draw attention to garden-variety domestic issues. Unable to access the National Mall, which was closed, or pass through the many security checkpoints, they gathered at the edges of the city’s downtown, where they barely attracted notice.

Crowds of onlookers were similarly sparse. Downtown streets that would normally hold throngs of tightly packed tourists during a typical inauguration were mostly deserted.


Here’s what Jennifer Lopez said in Spanish

At Wednesday’s inauguration, on the spot where insurrectionists barreled over Capitol police officers and broke into the seat of representative government two weeks ago, superstar Jennifer Lopez at one point in her musical performance lifted a finger and proclaimed: “Una nación, bajo Dios, indivisible, con libertad y justicia para todos!

That was the final phrase of the Pledge of Allegiance, folks: “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” (In the distance of the shot behind Lopez, a masked guest of the inauguration can be seen leaning into the person next to her with a questioning expression.)

Viewers on social media reserved a slice of their reactions to the moment. Some said they were picturing Trump supporters spontaneously combusting in anger over the use of anything other than American English.

Howard University students and alums applaud Harris

Kylie Burke, a junior at Howard University who serves as chief of staff for the historically Black institution’s student government, watched the inauguration on TV from her downtown D.C. apartment, the Washington Monument visible out her window. Burke said she was especially excited because Harris is a Howard alumna, the first vice president in history to have graduated from a historically Black college or university. Harris graduated from Howard in 1986.

“It’s been emotional, especially [Harris] actually getting sworn in,” Burke said.

While taking the oath, Harris placed her hand on the Bible of Thurgood Marshall, the former Supreme Court justice who was also a graduate of Howard. Burke said that moment overflowed with symbolism.

“Where we’re gonna really see the beauty in this in the long run, are the kids that are growing up watching this and seeing an HBCU represented on this stage,” she said.

Read Amanda Gorman’s full Inauguration Day poem

Amanda Gorman, 22, recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” at today’s inauguration, becoming the youngest inaugural poet ever in the United States. Read her full poem below:

Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam VP, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world:

When day comes we ask ourselves
Where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
A sea we must wade.
We braved the belly of the beast;
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace.
And the norms and notions of what just is
Isn’t always justice. And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it;
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
A nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny black girl descended from slaves
And raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president,
Only to find herself reciting for one. And yes we are far from polished, far from pristine,
But that doesn’t mean we aren’t striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge a union with purpose,
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze not to what stands between us,
But what stands before us.
We close the divide, because we know to put our future first.
We must first put our differences aside,
We lay down our arms
So we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: That even as we grieved, we grew,
That even as we hurt, we hoped,
That even as we tired, we tried,
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious—
Not because we will never again know defeat
But because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision
That everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree,
And no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time,
then victory won’t lie in the blade but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promised glade,
The hill we climb if only we dare it.
Because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded,
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
It can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith we trust,
For while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption.
We feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour,
But within it we found the power
To author a new chapter,
To offer hope and laughter,
To ourselves sow. While once we asked:
How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert: How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us? We will not march back to what was,
But move to what shall be,
A country that is bruised but whole,
Benevolent but bold,
Fierce and free.
We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation
Because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might and might with right,
Then love becomes our legacy
And change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.
With every breath of my bronze pounded chest,
We will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the golden hills of the West.
We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lakeland cities of the Midwestern states.
We will rise from the sunbaked south.
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
In every known nook of our nation,
In every corner called our country,
Our people, diverse and beautiful,
Will emerge battered and beautiful.
When day comes we step out of the shade,
Aflame and unafraid.
The new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it,
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Jennifer Lopez performs patriotic medley with showbiz flourish

Jennifer Lopez: Singer. Actress. Patriotic medley-maker?

Nearly a year after she blazed through a handful of her hits (and a bit of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.”) during the 2020 Super Bowl halftime show, the singer and actress turned up at Wednesday’s presidential inauguration, where she linked the first two verses of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” with “America the Beautiful” — and threw in a line from her own “Let’s Get Loud” just for good measure.

Wearing a shimmering white pantsuit, her hair slicked back into a long ponytail, Lopez remade the two American standards — the first a famously fought-over piece of U.S. history — in a kind of high-Disney mode, milking each note for maximum drama as the United States Marine Band accompanied her with a plush movie-music arrangement. (Shout out to the guitarist who sneaked in a jazz-fusion lick at one point.)


Calm at state capitols as Biden is sworn in

Calm prevailed outside heavily fortified state capitols across the U.S. as Joe Biden was sworn in as president.

The FBI had warned of the possibility for armed demonstrations leading up to the inauguration after President Trump repeatedly and falsely claimed the election was stolen from him.

Fewer than a half-dozen demonstrators showed up outside the capitols in Concord, N.H., and Lansing, Mich. A lone protester wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat stood outside a chain-link fence surrounding the California Capitol in Sacramento, as dozens of police officers and National Guard troops guarded every entrance.

Three protesters were outside the Nebraska Capitol in Lincoln, one waving a flag that read “Biden is not the president.”

Dump trucks, prison buses and other government vehicles were used to barricade streets around the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta, though no protesters were there.

Michigan lawmakers canceled a session scheduled for Wednesday out of caution. But in Wisconsin, legislators planned to move ahead with a committee hearing that was to be open to the public.

Across the world, people bid Trump ‘good riddance’

In Sydney, Australia, Lucy Sunman crawled out of bed at 3 a.m. so she could watch the inauguration of President Biden live.

“The chilling effect of the Trump presidency has impacted us around the world,” said Sunman, a 36-year-old lawyer. “I cannot wait for some stability to be restored.”

In Seoul, 70-year-old Park Sang-ki sat in his cramped printing shop across the street from the U.S. Embassy reading online news reports about Donald Trump’s departure from the White House.

“America was supposed to be an advanced nation, gentleman-like,” said Park. “Trump, he was like a gang boss.”

As Biden took office Wednesday, vowing to unify a nation riven by caustic political divisions and a deadly pandemic, the rest of the world watched closely, too. Many were happy to bid farewell to Trump, a larger-than-life character who relished disrupting the status quo at home and abroad and who will be remembered as one of the most controversial presidents not only in American history, but globally.

“Good riddance,” said Nydia Ngiow, the former trade negotiator for the Singaporean government who spent several years working in Washington in her government’s embassy.


The significance of ‘Amazing Grace’

Following Joe Biden’s inaugural speech as president, country star Garth Brooks took to the stage for a rendition of the old hymn “Amazing Grace.”

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”

Sporting a cowboy hat, Brooks sang the first two verses of the hymn and then invited the crowd — and viewers at home — to join with him for a repeat of the first verse.

“I once was lost, but now I am found. Was blind, but now I see.”

These two Californians came to Washington to celebrate Biden and Harris

Outside the Penn Quarter Street Tavern just north of the Mall, about 100 people had been gathering on the sidewalk to watch the inauguration on the bar’s television. They cheered wildly when President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took their oaths of office.

Among them was a group of young women from California who said they booked their tickets to the nation’s capital as soon as they heard Biden had been declared the winner.

“It’s kind of sweet and sour,” said Grace Arzola, a 39-year-old social worker from Riverside County, eyeing the heavy security at every corner. “It says it’s no longer a peaceful transition. I’m trained as a social worker to look for danger. But I shouldn’t have to do it here.”

But Arzola was also hopeful. “I think [Biden] will reunite us as a country,” she said.

Her friend Ariana Avalos, 24, of Lake Elsinore, agreed and praised this moment of inclusion.

“I love that they are for the people no matter the race,” she said. “And to have the first female vice president! If we are to have change we need women in positions of power. Trump did not see women as equals.”

The @POTUS Twitter account now belongs to Joe Biden

Now it’s really official.

Moments after being sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, Joe Biden crossed another important milestone in the democratic transfer of power: He took over the @POTUS Twitter account.

Barack Obama was the first posting president on the @POTUS account. His administration handed over the keys in 2016, and today, control of the account went back to the Democratic Party.

The only tweet so far is from Jan. 15, tweeted when the account handle was still @PresElectBiden.


Howard University celebrates alumna Harris becoming vice president

When Kamala Harris was sworn in as the nation’s first female, Black and Asian American vice president, celebrations ricocheted across the country — but especially among the Howard University community, Harris’ alma mater.

“This is a great day for Harris, for Howard and for our country as a whole. It is a great day for the African American community, the South Asian American community and all American communities. Harris’ ascendance is a powerful symbol of the progress our country has made,” Howard President Wayne Frederick said in a statement.

“To be sure, that progress has been inconsistent, and our country is far from perfect. But we would be remiss to overlook the significance of what Harris’ inauguration represents. That a Black woman can rise to hold the second-most powerful office in the entire country, especially in the midst of continuing inequality, injustice and intolerance, is a decisive testament to our country’s values and its future trajectory.”

Lady Gaga goes full diva for moving national anthem

Lady Gaga brought a welcome — and moving — splash of razzmatazz to Joe Biden’s inauguration when she performed the national anthem at his presidential swearing-in on Wednesday morning.

Wearing a fluffy red gown and black jacket affixed with a large dove brooch, the pop star summoned her most convincing Broadway-diva vibe as she belted the famously tricky tune, toying gently with the tempo and bending notes in unexpected directions.

Her voice? Big and crisp. Her expression? Lightly twinkling. Her arms? Waving with intensity.

Jennifer Lopez injects inauguration with Latin pride from the Capitol steps

On the spot where insurrectionists barreled over Capitol Police officers and broke into the seat of representative government two weeks ago, superstar Jennifer Lopez at one point in her musical selection raised a finger and proclaimed: “Una nación, bajo Dios, indivisible, con libertad y justicia para todos!

That was the final phrase of the Pledge of Allegiance, folks: “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” (Behind Lopez, a masked guest of the inauguration appeared to lean into the person next to her with a questioning expression.)

Viewers on social media reserved a slice of their reactions to the moment. Some said they were picturing Trump supporters spontaneously combusting in anger over the use of anything other than American English in any public ceremony.

But it was a familiar kind of indulgence for Lopez, who last year co-billed the Super Bowl Halftime Show with Shakira, and draped herself in the Puerto Rican flag and sang onstage with her daughter Emme.

Lopez opened her performance at the inauguration with a portion of “This Land Is Your Land,” the 1940 folk song by Woody Guthrie, who — incidentally — identified as a socialist and ally of working people.

Here’s how a 22-year-old L.A. native became Biden’s inauguration poet

Like most of us, Amanda Gorman of West Los Angeles has been cooped up in her apartment binge-watching “The Great British Baking Show” because of the pandemic. Unlike most of us, she got some very exciting news recently via Zoom: She’d been handpicked to read a poem at President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

The incoming first lady, Jill Biden, is a fan of her work and convinced the inaugural committee that Gorman would be a perfect fit.

Gorman, all of 22, became the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles at age 16 in 2014 and the first national youth poet laureate three years later. Wednesday, she became the youngest poet to write and recite a piece at a presidential inauguration, following in the considerably more experienced footsteps of Maya Angelou and Robert Frost.

Her precocious path was paved with both opportunities and challenges, an early passion for language and the diverse influences of her native city. Gorman grew up near Westchester but spent the bulk of her time around the New Roads School, a socioeconomically diverse private school in Santa Monica. Her mother, Joan Wicks, teaches middle school in Watts. Shuttling among the neighborhoods gave Gorman a window onto the deep inequities that divide ZIP Codes.


Biden calls on Americans to overcome divisions in inaugural address

President Joe Biden is calling on Americans to overcome their divisions, declaring in his first address in office that “without unity, there is no peace.”

Biden also pledged during his inaugural address Wednesday that he would be honest with the country as it continues to confront difficulties, saying that leaders have an obligation “to defend the truth and defeat the lies.”

He asked even those who did not vote for him to give him a chance.

He said, “Hear me out as we move forward.”

As he did frequently during the campaign, Biden pledged that he will be a “president for all Americans” and will “fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.”

He added, “We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue.”

Biden: ‘We must end this uncivil war’

We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue. … We can do this if we open our souls … if we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes just for a moment.

Joe Biden

On a canvas board, messages of hope

Ciara Turner, 30, wandered through the sparse crowd near the Capitol with a white canvas board and black permanent markers, asking people to write a message about what the moment means to them.

“This is hope.”

“Can’t live in fear.”

“Time to work.”

Turner said she has been bringing the canvas board to different events around the city, starting with last year’s protests over George Floyd’s death. Turner, who wore a pin saying “Black Girls Are Lit,” didn’t write a message of her own.

Asked what she would have written, she said it’s the “last day in history without a female vice president.” She added, “It’s important to see women of color in positions like that.”

Rioters did not deter these Biden supporters from attending

As soon as former Vice President Biden won the election in November, friends Sharon Hardaway, 53, and Earl Brooks, 60, decided they would attend his inauguration.

When rioters incited by President Trump attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, despite concerns from their family, they decided it was even more important for them to make the long drive north from their homes in South Carolina and Florida.

“We came for our second historical event,” said Hardaway, of Florida, the first being the inauguration of President Obama. “I figured we needed to show our support even more, our efforts to combine and unite our community.”

So many people attended Obama’s inauguration, she said, “we couldn’t even see everything we wanted.”

“This is different,” Hardaway said, “because of the fear.”

Standing near the National Mall, she said the city felt like it was under “martial law” because it had been so thoroughly locked down. She said she didn’t think the security detracted from the historic nature of the day, with the first female vice president, and the first Black and South Asian vice president.

Given Trump’s rhetoric for the past four years, Hardaway, who is Black, said she wasn’t surprised by his speech on the Mall to a rally of supporters turned insurrectionists. Not long after that speech, an angry mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the Capitol, leading to the deaths of a police officer and four others.

“He told them to stand back and stand by,” she said. “I expected something of that magnitude … that’s what he wanted, the turmoil to divide the country, to divide the entire world.”

For Biden, she said, bringing it back together is “going to be a hard job.”

Brooks, her friend, chose to wear his Marine Corps baseball cap, identifying him as a veteran. As he eyed rows of National Guard troops stationed nearby, he said, “It’s the kind of thing you expect to see when you deploy. But to have to deploy on your own land, to see this type of stuff happen, it’s really sad.”

“Once the election was over, we decided we weren’t going to miss something special like this,” he added. “Because of the [riots on the] 6th I know some people didn’t want to come — sometimes you have to take some risks. And you shouldn’t have to deal with a bunch of yahoos.”

Capitol Police officer credited for bravery escorts Harris to podium

Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who two weeks ago was credited with potentially saving lives when he diverted members of the mob who stormed the building away from the Senate chamber, escorted Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to the inaugural platform.

Goodman was in uniform and alone Jan. 6 when he is credited for bravely standing between a crowd of angry rioters and the door to the Senate floor. Yelling, “Back up,” Goodman led the mob up two flights of stairs to the third floor, where other officers were stationed.

In recognition of his actions, Goodman was named an acting deputy Senate sergeant-at-arms for Inauguration Day so he could escort Harris to the platform.

On Wednesday Goodman was in civilian clothes, wearing a brown overcoat and blue scarf as Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, exited their limousine on the Capitol East Front. He walked up to the steps alongside the incoming vice president and just behind President-elect Joe Biden, peeling off as Harris and Biden climbed the stairs.


Joe Biden sworn in as president

WASHINGTON — Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, just hours after his predecessor left the White House, clearing the way for a beleaguered nation to turn the page on one of the most divisive chapters in its political history.

Before taking his oath on the Capitol’s West Front, Biden stood witness to the shattering of a historic barrier as Kamala Harris, formerly a senator from California, was sworn in as the first woman, person of color and South Asian American to become vice president. Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court justice, administered Harris’ oath.

Then, with his inaugural address, Biden began his call for the country to unite in the face of multiple crises. The lingering damage from the postelection campaign by his predecessor to stay in power, which tested the foundations of democracy, was literally evident in places throughout the Capitol violently invaded just 14 days before by the former president’s supporters.


Kamala Harris sworn in as vice president

Kamala Devi Harris, born to immigrants from India and Jamaica amid the cultural upheaval of the 1960s, was sworn in as the 49th vice president of the United States on Wednesday, making history for her race and gender in a country that is again torn apart over fulfilling its promise of equality.

Harris, who as a toddler was pushed in her stroller through civil rights marches in the Berkeley Hills, is the first Californian in the White House since Ronald Reagan and only the second person from the state to hold the vice presidency, joining Richard Nixon.
None of the 48 vice presidents to serve before her has been Black, Asian or female, and only one of 46 presidents in American history, Barack Obama, is Black.

To mark those achievements, Harris, 56, was sworn in on a snowy and breezy day by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the high court’s first Latina, with Bibles owned by the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, its first African American, and Regina Shelton, a childhood neighbor whom Harris regarded as a second mother.


Protestors antagonize small crowd near Capitol

Three protesters antagonized a small crowd outside the security fence near the Capitol on Wednesday morning, waving a sign condemning feminists and non-Christians and shouting that they were going to hell.

The demonstrators heckled Pedro Alaniz, a chef who had traveled from Boston with his 23-year-old daughter to watch the swearing-in, and told him to speak English. He speaks it fluently.

The taunts offended Alaniz, 50, a citizen who immigrated from Mexico 35 years ago and voted for Biden.

“They’re trying to create division. They voted for Trump and they assume I don’t have a green card because I’m brown,” he said after shouting back at the protesters.

Alaniz worked his way up from a dishwasher to owning two restaurants, and helped bring his seven brothers to the U.S. He was encouraged last week to hear that Biden’s immigration agenda includes a path to citizenship for “Dreamers,” participants in the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Alaniz blamed Trump supporters who rioted at the Capitol for triggering stepped-up security that kept Biden supporters out of the National Mall.

“We came over here to witness history, but they said we can’t go inside. It’s sad. I elected Joe Biden and I can’t go in because of Trump supporters,” he said. “When Trump won, we accepted and moved on with our lives. We need to come together and accept this new president.”

Poor economy looms over the ceremony

Eric Kestner, 55, an unemployed auto mechanic, traveled to Washington from Seattle with son Riley Kestner, 27, an unemployed barista, to protest for pandemic healthcare and monthly stimulus payments.

Carrying signs that said “Medicare for all” and “Unite the working class,” the pair has supported Bernie Sanders and felt it was their responsibility to push Biden and Democrats in Congress to provide more public assistance during the pandemic.

“People are dying, they’re sick, we’ve got bills piling up,” Eric Kestner said. “We need much more help. Can’t they see that we’re hurting, that we’re broke, that we’re desperate, that America is splitting at the seams?”

Snow flurries fall as Biden takes the stage

Trump bids farewell to Washington, hints of comeback

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — His presidency over, Donald Trump said farewell to Washington on Wednesday but also hinted about a comeback despite a legacy of chaos, tumult and bitter divisions in the country he led for four years.

“So just a goodbye. We love you,” Trump told supporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland where he walked across a red carpet and boarded Air Force One to head to Florida. “We will be back in some form.”

Trump departed office as the only president ever impeached twice, and with millions more Americans out of work than when he was sworn in and 400,000 dead from the coronavirus. Under his watch, Republicans lost the presidency and both chambers of Congress. He will be forever remembered for inciting an insurrection, two weeks before Democrat Joe Biden moved into the White House, at the Capitol that left five dead, including a Capitol Police officer, and horrified the nation. It was on Trump’s Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017, that he had painted a dire picture of “American carnage.”

The first president in modern history to boycott his successor’s inauguration, Trump is still stewing about his loss and maintains falsely that the election won by Biden was stolen from him. Republican officials in several swing states, members of his own administration and a wide swath of judges, including those appointed by Trump, have rejected those arguments.

Trump refused to participate in any of the symbolic passing-of-the-torch traditions surrounding the peaceful transition of power, including inviting Joe and Jill Biden to the White House for a visit.

Biden arrives at U.S. Capitol

President-elect Joe Biden has arrived at the U.S. Capitol ahead of his inauguration as the United States’ 46th president.

Biden and his wife, Jill, arrived at the complex on Wednesday morning, about 90 minutes before his noon swearing-in ceremony. They were accompanied by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, and were greeted by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

The president-elect’s motorcade wound its way through a mostly deserted Washington following a morning church service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. Streets that would typically be lined with thousands of inaugural onlookers were ringed instead with a massive security presence to include military vehicles and armed troops.

Biden paused to wave from the Capitol steps before entering the building.

Lawmakers mingle with Cabinet nominees

On the West Front of the Capitol, members of Congress, Cabinet nominees and their guests took selfies, bumped elbows and joked in a space that normally would have held 20 times as many people.

A field of 200,000 American flags stretched the length of the National Mall, replacing the thousands or millions of flag-waving Americans who would normally attend the event.

“The lack of crowds is sad. This is one of the things that makes our country great, the peaceful transition of power,” Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) said. “It really is, I don’t know any other word for it but magical, and to see that now, without the crowd, it’s sad. But, with our situation today, with COVID I understand, I just wish it wasn’t like that.”

Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) called it bittersweet not to have the crowd to witness the transition of power. “It’s unfortunate. This should be a celebration,” Bera said.

Despite tight security, an Iowa family travels to D.C.

David Amun, 39, a commercial developer from Iowa, walked the Capitol’s perimeter with his five boys, taking it all in.

The family had come all the way from Iowa for the inauguration. Near the Supreme Court, the boys — Jonathan, 17, Jalen, 15, Jordan, 15, Justin, 14, and Joshua, 12 — all posed for a picture in front of National Guard troops.

“There’s been so much division, we were hoping Biden could bring some unity,” Amun said, glancing over at the troops. “But it just looks like more division.”

He hopes Biden will put forward “a real plan” for the country, and commit to the “dispersal of real information,” he said.

Trump, breaking a final norm, skips Biden’s swearing-in and decamps to Florida

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump, despite two months of desperate attempts to retain power that tested America’s democracy and provoked his second impeachment, couldn’t change the final scene Wednesday morning as if it were one of his old reality-TV shows. He had no choice but to play the loser.

Less than four hours before his successor was to be sworn in at the Capitol, the 45th president of the United States and First Lady Melania Trump emerged from the White House, and briefly bid a reluctant farewell to a small group of reporters and aides gathered nearby. Trump said that it had been the “honor of a lifetime” to serve as president, adding, “Hopefully it’s not a long-term goodbye.”

Then the Trumps walked across a short red carpet to the South Lawn and boarded Marine One, which lifted off at 8:17 a.m. and carried them out of Washington for the final time as president and first lady.

Biden visits cathedral ahead of swearing-in

President-elect Joe Biden’s first stop Wednesday was a church service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, the seat of Washington’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese and titular church of Cardinal Wilton Gregory, who recently became the first Black American cardinal.

Biden is only the second Catholic to become U.S. president.

In a gesture of reconciliation, he invited two Republican rivals — Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, outgoing Senate leader, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, the House minority leader — to join him at the services.

Streets leading to the red-stone 19th century church were blocked by police vehicles and dump trucks at least two blocks in every direction. There were several small crowds at the roadblocks, with spectators hoping to catch a glimpse of the dignitaries.

The service was taking place at roughly the same time that outgoing President Trump was departing the White House in a helicopter.

Inside the cathedral, Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, sat in the first pew. McConnell, McCarthy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and others sat socially distanced in other pews.

Outside, Yessica Leon said she drove from home in Murfreesboro, Tenn., to be there for Inauguration Day. The 33-year-old legal assistant, a native of Mexico, became a U.S. citizen last year and voted in November, in her first election, for Biden.

“I’m here to welcome President Biden,” she said, from behind a sequined Biden-Harris face mask, as helicopters swooped overhead. “It’s crazy, all this security, but I think they are keeping us safe.”

Dan Gordon, 69, a retired lawyer who lives a couple of blocks from the church, also wore a Biden-Harris mask (sans sequins).

“We’ve had four horrendous years,” Gordon said. “This morning I was reflecting on the mixture of feelings. Exhaustion from Trump. Joy. And worry about the future.”

While it was a good sign that Republicans joined Biden at the church, he said, he worried that the polarized nature of U.S. politics would continue.

Pete Buttigieg, Biden’s Transportation secretary pick, on the meaning of today

“It’s really moving. I mean, any inauguration’s a moving event,” he said. “But when you just think about everything we’ve been through … and what the country is up against, I think this is a moment a lot of us have been thinking about for a very long time. This is when we actually get to turn the page.”

Regarding his confirmation hearing Thursday: “I’ve been speaking to senators on both sides of the aisle, getting ready and I think it’ll be a great chance to hear about what they think is important and lay out the vision for the department.”

Former GOP House Speaker Paul D. Ryan on why he attended Biden’s inauguration

“Our institutions were tested this year and our institutions passed the test,” said former House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, a Republican. “I’m here out of respect for the peaceful transfer of power and for the institutions. … Joe Biden is the legitimately-elected president of the United States and I’m here to honor this process.”

Hot dogs for breakfast?

A small woman in a teal sweater reached up to the camouflaged National Guard troops, taking cash through a gap in the fence running for miles around the National Mall and passing back hot dogs, wrapped in foil.

The vendor, who gave her name as Hung, laughed when asked about troops’ breakfast choice.

“Hot dogs are for anytime,” Hung said.

Hung came to Washington from Vietnam in 1975, and said she has been selling food and snacks at this spot from her food cart, near the Smithsonian and Department of Agriculture, for years. She has worked every inauguration since President Carter’s in 1977.

“Clinton, Bush, Obama,” she rattled off the list.

But today, there were no crowds, which was bad for business.
“It’s very slow,” she said.

Her best customers are the National Guard troops stationed nearby, who said they have been out in the cold for hours. They reported it has been extremely quiet.

“That’s a good thing,” said one.

Outside U.S. Capitol security perimeter, Harris is celebrated

After Kamala Harris was elected vice president, Yvette Best ordered some new clothes.

She got green pants, a jacket with green, pink and white stripes and a matching hat — all the colors of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

At first she wasn’t sure when she was going to wear it, but she got her chance on Wednesday outside the U.S. Capitol security perimeter to celebrate Harris being sworn in.

Best, 53, was undeterred by the heavy military presence in the capital.

“I’m energized,” she said. “I woke up this morning super happy, super hopeful.”

Best came with her daughter, Jianna, 20, and her niece, Brandi, 31.

“I’m kind of sad we won’t be able to get closer,” Jianna said. “But if this is all we can get, it’s still worth it.”

Brandi is a Howard University graduate, like Harris herself. “My whole life people said HBCUs don’t prepare you for the world,” she said, referring to historically black colleges and universities. “Now someone from a HBCU is in the White House.”

Trump supporter questioned near Capitol

Dr. Thomas Ockerhausen, 49, of San Antonio was stopped and questioned by police near the Capitol after traveling to see the inauguration.

Afterward, Ockerhausen told a reporter he described himself as “a traditionalist, not necessarily a Trump supporter.” But he said that he was at the Jan. 6 rally outside the Capitol and that he told police questioning him Wednesday that “they’re on the wrong side of history.”

He said in an interview that the crowd he’d been with outside the Capitol was peaceful, that he saw police giving rioters “high fives” when they entered the building and that many in the crowd didn’t realize what those inside were doing.

“If they knew what was happening inside, they would be horrified,” he said, blaming the media for portraying the entire crowd as insurrectionists.

“Conservative people are ‘domestic terrorists’? Hey man, we’re just trying to have our voices heard,” he said.

After police let him go Wednesday morning, he walked a few blocks to stand with a small crowd of onlookers facing the Capitol outside the security fence patrolled by National Guard troops. “Trump’s more powerful as a private citizen outside that fence,” Ockerhausen said. “It will be interesting to see what he does.”

How an Altadena composer came to score music for Biden inauguration festivities

When the 2020 presidential election officially was called for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, Altadena-based composer Peter Boyer dashed off a note to Col. Jason K. Fettig, director of “the President’s Own” United States Marine Band.

The subject line of the email read, “If you need a piece written for the Inauguration …”

Boyer, who generally composes orchestral music, had collaborated with Fettig on a couple of occasions in the last few years, most notably when Fettig commissioned him to write a piece for the band’s 220th anniversary. That work premiered in San Antonio in 2018.

The Marine Band, America’s oldest continuously active musical organization, played at the inauguration of Thomas Jefferson in 1801. When an outfit like that comes calling, Boyer said in a phone interview, you don’t turn it down.

President Obama congratulates Biden

‘Every important date is in there’: Biden to take oath on his family Bible

Joe Biden places his hand on the Biden family Bible as he takes the oath of office as vice president in 2013.

Joe Biden places his hand on the Biden family Bible, held by his wife, Jill, as he takes the oath of office as vice president in 2013.

(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will take their oaths of office Wednesday using Bibles that are laden with personal meaning, writing new chapters in a long-running American tradition — and one that appears nowhere in law.

The Constitution does not require the use of a specific text for swearing-in ceremonies and specifies only the wording of the president’s oath. That wording does not include the phrase “so help me God,” but every modern president has appended it to his oath, and most have chosen symbolically significant Bibles for their inaugurations.

That includes Biden, who plans to use the same family Bible that he chose for his two swearing-in ceremonies as vice president and the seven oaths he took as senator from Delaware.

The tome, which is several inches thick and which Biden’s late son, Beau, also used when he was sworn in as Delaware attorney general, has been a family heirloom since 1893, and “every important date is in there,” Biden told late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert last month.

“Why is your Bible bigger than mine? Do you have more Jesus than I do?” quipped Colbert, who, like Biden, is a practicing Roman Catholic.

Read more > > >

Lonely vendors lament sales: ‘Horrible. The worst ever’

A vendor near Union Station in Washington showcases inauguration booklets for sale.

A vendor near Union Station in Washington showcases inauguration booklets for sale.

(Chris Megerian / Los Angeles Times)

North of the U.S. Capitol, near Union Station, lonely vendors tried to sell inauguration booklets without much luck. Their cart of plastic-wrapped books — Joe Biden’s face on one side, Kamala Harris’ on the other — was still full as the early morning hours drifted by.

“Horrible. The worst ever,” said Lucas, 55. He declined to give his last name.

When President Obama was inaugurated in 2009, he said, they sold $10,000 of merchandise in one day. Everyone wanted a button or a bookmark, and it was so cold that people were snatching up hats and gloves.

The last time Lucas made good money as a vendor was Jan. 6, when he was selling Trump gear near the “Stop the Steal” rally that led to the Capitol riot. He was positioned outside the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and guessed that he had sold $5,000 worth of merchandise

“People love Trump,” he said through his mask, which was inscribed with “Black Lives Matter” on one side and “I can’t breathe” on the other.

“That’s capitalism,” he said. “Whatever you can do to support your family.”

Indian village, hometown of Harris’ grandfather, celebrates the vice president-elect

THULASENDRAPURAM, India — A tiny, verdant Indian village surrounded by rice paddies was brimming with joy Wednesday hours before Kamala Harris was set to take her oath of office as vice president.

Harris is set to make history as the first woman, first woman of color and first person of South Asian descent to hold the vice presidency.

In her maternal grandfather’s hometown of Thulasendrapuram, about 215 miles from the southern Indian city of Chennai, people were jubilant and gearing up for celebrations.

“We are feeling very proud that an Indian is being elected as the vice president of America,” said Anukampa Madhavasimhan, a teacher.

Harris’ grandfather moved to coastal Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state, decades ago. Her late mother was also born in India, and then moved to the U.S. to study at the University of California. She married a Jamaican man, and they named their daughter Kamala, a Sanskrit word for “lotus flower.”

Ahead of the inauguration, special prayers for Harris’ success were held at the town temple. An idol of the Hindu deity Ayyanar, an avatar of Shiva, was washed with milk and decked with flowers by the priest.

Scenes from Washington as the Capitol prepares for Inauguration Day

Rep. Barbara Lee reflects on Kamala Harris, new administration

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) said this week she is approaching the inauguration with complex emotions.

“We’ve got to be extremely careful on all fronts, the COVID concerns … the security concerns, which I think are being addressed, but one never knows. … We know there are still these groups out there, the white supremacists out there that are determined to follow Donald Trump,” Lee said.

She added, “We have to recognize the light always outshines the darkness. We really have to have hope that this administration will help turn the corner in this country.”

“It’s going to happen and that’s what is important,” Lee said.

Lee, a longtime friend of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, said the first Black and South Asian woman in the White House brings “an added perspective, and added lens.”

“To have her there in the White House is just a remarkable historic moment for me. Black women have fought so hard to elect other people, to be part of this Democratic Party, to get people out to vote,” Lee said. “We never would be here had it not been for the work and the struggle and the fights that Black women oftentimes have led with Black men. She’s the right woman for the right time.”

Their longtime friendship doesn’t mean Biden and Harris get a pass from Lee, long considered the most liberal member of the House.

“She knows that I’m going to be pushing the administration,” Lee said. “She knows my agenda.”

Lee entered politics working on the 1972 presidential campaign of Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress and the first Black woman to run for president for a major party. The congresswoman will wear a string of her mentor’s pearls Wednesday. Lee got the pearls from Chisholm’s goddaughter, who sent them to the congresswoman saying “her godmother would not want it any other way.”

“I know Shirley Chisholm is saying ‘Long overdue,’ ” Lee said.

Crime museum worker ready to capture ‘protests, riots, any malfeasance’

Matt Hood at the Capitol

Matt Hood brought a Biden mask to Wednesday’s inauguration, even though he had refused to vote in the presidential election, citing his support for Bernie Sanders.

(Molly Hennessy-Fiske / Los Angeles Times)

Matt Hood of Baltimore came to the security fence behind the Capitol before dawn to document the inauguration.

Hood, 38, works for a new crime museum in Baltimore and was prepared to capture “protests, riots, any malfeasance.” He brought a Biden mask, even though, as a Bernie Sanders supporter, he had refused to vote in the presidential election.

“This is a literally once in a lifetime event,” Hood said as he stood in a small crowd gathered on a street corner near National Guard troops.

Hood was visiting Washington during the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. He wasn’t able to document the melee but got close enough “to hear the flash bangs.”

He figured there could be a smaller uprising during the inauguration by Trump loyalists, noting that there was an inaugural riot in 1857 when insurrectionist “Know Nothings” clashed with Marines.

“Democracy is a fragile thing. Things can fall apart fairly quickly,” Hood said.

But he was reassured by all the security he saw at the Capitol’s newly fortified perimeter fence. “They might try, but they won’t get through,” he said.

Watch live: 59th inaugural ceremony

A quiet morning at the Capitol as inauguration nears

Except for the occasional convoy of tinted police SUVs racing down otherwise blocked-off streets, the perimeter around the Capitol complex was relatively quiet about 8 a.m. as the bright sun rose above Washington.

The few pedestrians on the street walked with hands buried deep in jackets to fight off the bitter cold. On the grand traffic circle in front of Union Station, activists had set up an electronic billboard that called for the defunding of police. A security guard hired to guard the sign said the people behind it weren’t around.

Across the street, near the Senate office buildings, officers were ushering cars into the Capitol complex one at a time, stopping each one and telling the drivers to turn their engines off. The officers then inspected each car, circling them with bomb-sniffing dogs. A small group of antiabortion protesters passed by the dogs holding signs with pictures of aborted fetuses. One man who described himself as a pastor said, “This is the fruits of Joe Biden.”

Trump leaves White House for final time as 45th president

President Trump has left the White House for the last time as the nation’s 45th president.

On a clear day in Washington, Trump came out of the official residence shortly after 8:10 a.m. ET onto the South Lawn. “It’s been a great honor, the honor of a lifetime,” he said to the handful of people waiting outside.

He waved and pumped his fist before boarding Marine One for the short helicopter ride to Joint Base Andrews, in Maryland, where he planned to greet supporters and make remarks before heading to his private estate in Florida.

It was an untraditional departure for a U.S. leader, the capstone to a presidency that flouted many other norms. Trump chose to leave Wednesday morning instead of staying in Washington to greet and attend the swearing-in of his successor, President-elect Joe Biden.

Shortly after 8:30 a.m., Marine One touched down at Joint Base Andrews, where a brass band played “Hail to the Chief.” A small crowd of flag-waving supporters cheered; a few shouted, “We love you!”

“And we love you, and I can tell you that from the bottom of my heart,” Trump said from a dais, with a number of American flags billowing behind him. “This has been an incredible four years. We’ve accomplished so much together.”

He thanked his aides and his family, and asked his wife to take the microphone briefly.

“Being your first lady was my greatest honor,” Melania Trump said. “Thank you for your love and your support.”

Introducing ‘Covering Kamala Harris’ from the Los Angeles Times

The Times has covered Kamala Harris’ political career since 1994, when then-Assembly Speaker Willie Brown appointed her to the California Medical Assistance Commission.

Since then, we’ve written hundreds of articles on Harris, who is a California native, received her law degree here and became the first woman and Black American to serve as the state’s attorney general. She’d later become the first South Asian American elected to the U.S. Senate, and only the second Black woman ever to serve in the 100-member body. She has been the sole Black woman in the Senate during her four years there.

The Los Angeles Times is introducing “Covering Kamala Harris,” a beat dedicated to her historic rise to the White House. She is the first vice president who is Black, South Asian, female and the direct descendants of immigrants.

Read more > > >

Americans voice anguish and hope as Biden prepares to take office

Few U.S. presidents taking the oath of office have found themselves on quite the razor’s edge of peril and promise as Joe Biden. Scourge to some, savior to others, he is the calm after a raucous four-year carnival, a leader who must quell a pandemic, restore an economy and mend a nation at war with itself as he at last steps into the role he has desired for decades.

American presidential inaugurations have often come against the backdrop of momentous events — the Civil War, the Great Depression, the war in Vietnam, the civil rights era. For Biden, at 78 the oldest president ever to take office, the burdens are great, with many of those he will govern refusing to recognize the very legitimacy of his victory.

Together with a trailblazing vice president-elect, Kamala Harris, Biden on Wednesday inherits a country shadowed by insurrection and contagion. The two will take their oaths of office on the steps of a Capitol overrun by marauders just 14 days earlier, as the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus shudders its way past 400,000 and financial hardship tightens its grip on millions of American families.

Across the country, many Americans saw a moment of national ideals tested, and sometimes found wanting.

Read more > > >

Column: Yes, Biden is a 78-year-old Washington insider. Why that’s a good thing

WASHINGTON — Joseph R. Biden Jr. arrives in the White House today thanks to two unappreciated assets: He is 78 years old, and he has been a politician for more than 50 years. Those qualifications may be his hidden superpowers.

Decades as a Washington insider aren’t something politicians normally boast about these days, but Biden has turned that logic on its head.

After four years of a presidency that made many Americans yearn for a respite from chaos, the Democrat promised a return to normality. He made “boring” sound beautiful.

He’s not the most talented politician to reach the Oval Office. He doesn’t have the show-business talent of Ronald Reagan, the cunning of Bill Clinton or the intellectual firepower of Barack Obama. To borrow a line from another of his predecessors, he’s a Ford, not a Lincoln.

But that may be what the country needs.

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Trump throws a wrench into a normally seamless transfer of power

WASHINGTON — For decades it has been one of the seamless but silent rituals of power transferring from one president to the next: the passing of the football on Inauguration Day.

As the incoming president finishes the oath of office at the Capitol, the former president’s military aide lugging a briefcase containing the country’s nuclear war plans — known as the “football” — hands it over to a new uniformed aide, who takes up position near the just-inaugurated commander in chief.

Unnoticed to most, the president’s power to wage war in an instant has changed hands.

But this year’s football handoff will be long-distance for the first time — one of many crucial and cherished transition traditions that President Trump plans to upend in his final hours in office.

Read more > > >

Alex Padilla among three new Democratic senators to be sworn in today

Three new Democratic senators are set to be sworn into office after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration Wednesday.

The arrival of Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia and Alex Padilla of California will give Democrats a working majority in the Senate — split 50-50, with the new vice president, Kamala Harris, as the tie-breaking vote.

A person granted anonymity to discuss the planning told the Associated Press that Harris was set to deliver the oath of office to the three Democrats after she is sworn in as vice president.

Warnock and Ossoff defeated Republican senators earlier this month. The Georgia secretary of state certified those results Tuesday.

Padilla has been tapped by California’s governor to fill Harris’ remaining term in the Senate.