Biden inauguration: New president to be sworn in amid Trump snub



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Joe Biden is preparing to be sworn in as the 46th US president, ending one of the most dramatic political transitions in American history.

He is due to take the oath of office at about 12:00 local time (17:00 GMT).

Outgoing President Donald Trump, who has not formally conceded to Mr Biden, is snubbing the ceremony.

The new president has announced a raft of executive orders aimed at dealing with the coronavirus crisis and reversing Mr Trump’s key policies.

Mr Trump left the White House for the last time as president shortly after 08:00 (13:00 GMT). He boarded a helicopter, flew to the nearby Andrews base, and is now flying to Florida.

He is the first president not to attend his successor’s inauguration since 1869.

Mr Biden, a Democrat, will take the oath of office outside the US Capitol. There is extra-tight security after the building was stormed by violent pro-Trump protesters in a deadly riot on 6 January.

Some 25,000 troops are guarding the inauguration ceremony, which will be missing the traditional hundreds of thousands of spectators because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Alongside Mr Biden, Kamala Harris will make history when she is sworn in as the nation’s first female vice-president.

Mr Biden – who at the age 78 is the oldest US president ever to be sworn in – will take the oath of office from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Among those present are three former presidents: Barack Obama – under whom Mr Biden served for eight years as vice-president – Bill Clinton and George W Bush.

Outgoing Vice-President Mike Pence will also attend the ceremony. He skipped Mr Trump’s farewell military salute event at Andrews base.

Aides say Mr Biden will use his inaugural address of about half an hour to deliver an optimistic call for national unity after his Republican predecessor’s turbulent tenure.

Minutes beforehand, Vice-President-elect Harris will be sworn in, becoming the first black and Asian-American person elevated to serve in a role a heartbeat from the presidency.

There will be musical performances from Lady Gaga – who will sing the national anthem – as well as Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks.

An evening concert at the Lincoln Memorial in the city will be hosted by Tom Hanks and include Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Jon Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake, and Demi Lovato.

Mr Biden, a Catholic, attended Mass on Wednesday morning at a cathedral in the city with top congressional leaders.

In his address at Andrews Air Force base the outgoing president highlighted what he regards as the successes of his presidency. “What we’ve done has been amazing by any standard,” Mr Trump said.

The 74-year-old is now flying off to begin post-presidential life at his Mar-a-Lago golf club in Palm Beach.

In his last hours, Mr Trump granted clemency to more than 140 people, including his former adviser Steve Bannon, who had been facing fraud charges.

The political drama surrounding Mr Trump is far from over. The US Senate is expected to put him on trial soon, following his record second impeachment by the House of Representatives for allegedly inciting the Capitol riot.

On Tuesday, the Senate’s Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, said the mob had been provoked by Mr Trump and fed lies.

Mr Biden has set out a flurry of executive orders. In a statement on Wednesday he said he would sign 15 orders after he is sworn in. They will:

  • Reverse Mr Trump’s withdrawal of the US from the Paris climate accord
  • Revoke the presidential permit granted to the Keystone XL Pipeline, which is opposed by environmentalists and Native American groups
  • Revoke Trump policies on immigration enforcement and the emergency declaration that helped fund the construction of a Mexican border wall
  • Bring about a mask and distancing mandate for federal employees and in federal buildings, and a new White House office on coronavirus
  • End a travel ban on visitors from some, mainly Muslim, nations

Other orders will cover race and gender equality, along with climate issues.

Mr Biden’s vice-president will swear in three new Democratic senators on Wednesday, leaving the upper chamber of Congress evenly split between the two main parties. This will allow the vice-president to act as a tie-breaker in key votes.

Mr Biden’s legislative ambitions could be tempered by the slender majorities he holds in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

On Tuesday, Mr Biden delivered a speech in his home state of Delaware, telling reporters “these are dark times… but there’s always light”, before heading to Washington.

In the evening, he and Ms Harris led a tribute at the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial to the 400,000 Americans lost to Covid-19.

They were almost alone on the National Mall, where some 200,000 flags have been planted to represent the crowds who will be absent at Wednesday’s inauguration.

In the evening, he and Ms Harris led a tribute at the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial to the 400,000 Americans lost to Covid-19.

They were almost alone on the National Mall, where some 200,000 flags have been planted to represent the crowds who will be absent at Wednesday’s inauguration.

Some 25,000 National Guard troops are guarding the Capitol, White House and National Mall, which are also protected by a ring of steel made up of barricades and tall fencing.

Ahead of Mr Biden’s arrival in the city, 12 National Guard members were removed from the presidential inauguration security mission after they were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or posted extremist views online.

There was no threat to Mr Biden, officials said.

BBC