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Inauguration Day: Biden in White House for 1st time as president

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Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration (all times local):

4:20 p.m.

Vice President Kamala Harris has entered her new office building for the first time in her new role.

Harris was joined Wednesday by her husband, Doug Emhoff, as she entered the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which houses the vice president’s office and is located near the White House.

The marching band of her alma mater, Howard University, helped lead Harris’ procession.

She was joined by her extended family and held hands with one of her young grandnieces, who was beaming and wearing a fur coat meant to mimic one Harris wore as a child.

Shouts of “We love you!” greeted her as she walked along the procession route. She waved at White House staffers gathered to watch and gave one final wave to the crowd before entering the building.

3:50 p.m.

President Joe Biden has entered the White House for the first time 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 on Wednesday.

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 given security lockdowns after the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and public health protocols amid the ongoing pandemic.

3:45 p.m.

President Joe Biden and his family have concluded his inaugural parade by walking a final short distance of the route to the White House.

Biden, his wife, Jill Biden, their children and their grandchildren held hands Wednesday afternoon as they strolled, waving to a mostly nonexistent crowd because of coronavirus social distancing guidelines.

Biden jogged over to the sidelines several times to stop to talk to reporters and spectators.

The first family arrived on the White House grounds with a band playing and press in tow.

Joe and Jill Biden completed the trip by embracing at the entrance to the White House while the band played “Hail to the Chief.”

3:05 p.m.

President Joe 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 Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura and former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary.

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

2:35 p.m.

President Joe 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 press briefing for later Wednesday.

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

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

2:15 p.m.

President Joe 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.

1:50 p.m.

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 (14.5 kilograms).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell gifted them with a pair of 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.

1:40 p.m.

Vice President Kamala Harris has now taken on a role that would have typically been performed by the outgoing president.

Harris and her husband, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, stood on the U.S. Capitol steps Wednesday to bid farewell to her predecessor, former Vice President Mike Pence, and his wife, Karen.

The two couples stood and chatted for a few moments, even laughing, on the steps before the Pences got into a vehicle and were driven away.

President Donald Trump typically would have performed the sendoff for his second-in-command but opted to skip Wednesday’s inaugural festivities.

Trump and his wife, Melania, went straight from the White House to Joint Base Andrews earlier Wednesday. He gave a campaign-style farewell speech before boarding Air Force One for a final time as president and traveling to his home in Florida.

Pence opted not to attend that event, instead attending Biden’s inauguration.

12:45 p.m.

The official swearing-in ceremony for President Joe Biden have concluded, but more events are planned throughout the day.

Biden and first lady Jill Biden departed the platform at the U.S. Capitol following a ceremony that included Biden taking the oath Wednesday as the 46th president of the United States. Vice President Kamala Harris also took her oath of office, becoming the nation’s first female vice president.

The day included musical performances from Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks. Celebrated poet Amanda Gorman read a piece noting that, “while democracy can be permanently delayed, it can never be permanently denied.”

The day included musical performances from Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks. Celebrated poet Amanda Gorman read a piece noting that, “while democracy can be permanently delayed, it can never be permanently denied.”

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 first official arrival at the White House as president before a virtual inaugural parade.

12:40 p.m.

Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman summoned images dire and triumphant as she called out to the world “even as we grieved, we grew.”

Gorman is 22, by far the youngest inaugural poet since Robert Frost read for John F. Kennedy in 1961. She quoted biblical scripture and echoed the oratory of Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. among others as she recited her poem at President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.

She referred to the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump, an event that she said helped inspire her to finish her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

12:30 p.m.

Garth Brooks has sung a gospel-tinged and beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace” at President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

The country superstar took off his black cowboy hat and kept his eyes closed for much of the powerful song, performing it a capella and without strain.

He offered a few dazzling smiles as the sun broke through the crowd and asked the audience to sing a verse with him. He said, “Not just the people here, but the people at home, to work as one united.”

After it was over, Brooks shook hands with Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and former Vice President Mike Pence.

Brooks performed during the inaugural celebration of President Barack Obama in 2009. He turned down a chance to play for President Donald Trump in 2017, citing a scheduling conflict.

12:20 p.m.

More than a hundred people stood in the cold waiting to get through a security checkpoint to reach Pennsylvania Avenue, where they hoped to catch a glimpse of the presidential procession.

People watched the inauguration ceremony on their phones Wednesday, cheering as Vice President Kamala Harris, then President Joe Biden took the oath.

“I feel so hopeful, so thankful,” said Karen Jennings Crooms, a D.C. resident waiting in line with her husband. “It makes us sad that this is where we are but hopeful that democracy will win out in the end. That’s what I’m focusing on.”

Her husband, Vernal Crooms, who attended Howard University at the same time as Harris but didn’t know her, said he was happy to see the Donald Trump era end.

He said, “We’ve turned the page. Light prevailed and the lie didn’t last.”

12:10 p.m.

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.”

Noon

President Joe Biden says “democracy has prevailed” in a country reeling amid a pandemic and a violent melee two weeks ago at the U.S. Capitol.

In his first remarks as president, Biden said Wednesday that his swearing-in marks a day of “history and hope.”

Biden said in his inaugural address that the country has “learned again that democracy is precious.”

He added, “The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.”

Biden also thanked his predecessors from both parties for attending Wednesday’s ceremonies. Former Vice President Mike Pence was also in attendance, while former President Donald Trump skipped the festivities and headed to Florida earlier in the day.

11:50 a.m.

Joe Biden has officially become the 46th president of the United States.

Biden took the oath of office just before noon Wednesday during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. The presidential oath was administered by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Biden was sworn in using a Bible that has been in his family since 1893 and was used during his swearing-in as vice president in 2009 and 2013. The 5-inch thick Bible, which could be seen on a table next to Biden’s chair on the dais, has a Celtic cross on its cover and was also used each time he was sworn- n as a U.S. senator.

Biden’s late son, Beau, also used the Bible for his own swearing-in ceremony as attorney general of Delaware and helped carry the Bible to his father’s 2013 ceremony.

11:45 a.m.

Kamala Harris has been sworn in as the nation’s first female vice president.

The former U.S. senator from California is also the first Black person and the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency and becomes the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government.

She was sworn in Wednesday by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court. Vice President Mike Pence, standing in for President Donald Trump, was sitting nearby as Lady Gaga sang the national anthem accompanied by the U.S. Marine Corps band.

11:35 a.m.

President Joe Biden has chosen career diplomat Daniel Smith to serve as acting secretary of state until his pick for top diplomat, Antony Blinken, is confirmed by the Senate.

Smith currently runs the Foreign Service Institute that trains U.S. diplomats and is a former ambassador to Greece.

Current and incoming U.S. officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday of his temporary appointment, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the official announcement. Biden is set to be sworn in at noon as the 46th president of the United States.

Blinken had a confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, and his confirmation is not expected to face obstacles. He would succeed President Donald Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.

11:15 a.m.

Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration ceremony has begun.

Biden swears the oath of office at noon Wednesday, becoming the 46th president of the United States. The Democrat is preparing to take the helm of a deeply divided nation and inherit crises arguably greater than any faced by his predecessors.

History will be made at Biden’s side, as Kamala Harris becomes the first woman to be vice president.

The ceremony in which presidential power is transferred is a hallowed American democratic tradition. And this time it serves as a jarring reminder of the challenges Biden faces: The inauguration unfolds at a U.S. Capitol battered by an insurrectionist siege just two weeks ago, encircled by security forces. It’s devoid of crowds because of the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

Flouting tradition, Donald Trump departed Washington on Wednesday morning ahead of the inauguration rather than accompany his successor to the Capitol.

Former Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are attending.

The other living former president, 96-year-old Jimmy Carter, previously announced he would not attend.

11:10 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence has arrived at the inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden.

Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, were announced at inaugural festivities at the U.S. Capitol about one hour ahead of Biden’s expected swearing-in ceremony.

Pence is representing the outgoing Trump administration at Biden’s inaugural. President Donald Trump is skipping the festivities, departing Washington earlier in the day for the last time as sitting president.

Aboard Air Force One a final time, Trump landed in West Palm Beach, Florida, just before Pence’s arrival at the inaugural platform.

During remarks before his departure, Trump hinted at a comeback despite a legacy of chaos, tumult and bitter divisions in the country he led for four years, telling supporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland “We will be back in some form.”

11:05 a.m.

A Capitol police officer hailed as a hero for his actions during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol is accompanying Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at the inauguration of Harris and President-elect Joe Biden.

Officer Eugene Goodman confronted the insurrectionists and led them away from Senate chambers moments after Vice President Mike Pence was escorted from the Senate chamber as the rioters stormed the Capitol.

Goodman is a Black man and was facing an overwhelmingly white mob. He is the only officer seen for a full minute on widely circulated footage captured by a news reporter. Goodman stands in front of the rioters and walks backward as the group follows him to a second-floor hallway, where other officers finally assist him.

A police spokeswoman says Goodman’s plainclothes assignment to accompany Harris “is a ceremonial role.″

11 a.m.

Former Republican leaders and lawmakers are among those gathering at the Capitol for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan said he was attending the Wednesday ceremony to “honor the process” after a year that he said tested the nation’s institutions. He said he was there “out of respect for the peaceful transfer of power.”

Former Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona says it’s “too bad” that outgoing President Donald Trump did not attend for “that handoff that the world can see.”

Flake is a Trump critic. He says he hopes it’s a “moment of renewal” for the nation. He says he thinks “Americans will sleep easier knowing that we have a more steady hand in the White House.”

10:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump has arrived in Florida after leaving the White House for the final time as president.

Trump said farewell to Washington early Wednesday, leaving before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Trump’s plane flew low along the coast as Biden’s inauguration played on TV on Fox News Channel.

Trump’s family was on the plane with him. He spent some of the flight meeting with flight staff, who went up to say goodbye.

Trump has hinted about a comeback despite a legacy of chaos, tumult and bitter divisions in the country he led for four years.

Trump spoke to supporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, where he walked across a red carpet and boarded Air Force One to head to Florida. He said: “So just a goodbye. We love you.” And the 45th president added, “We will be back in some form.”

Trump departs office as the only president ever impeached twice, and with millions more out of work than when he was sworn in and 400,000 dead from the coronavirus.

10:35 a.m.

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, Douglas 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.

About 25,000 National Guard members have been dispatched to Washington following the violent melee at the U.S. Capitol two weeks ago.

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

10:25 a.m.

All of the former U.S. presidents attending President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration have arrived at the U.S. Capitol.

George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, were first to arrive at the complex on Wednesday morning, several hours before Biden’s swearing-in ceremony.

Barack and Michelle Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton followed shortly thereafter, with each couple arriving in separate motorcades.

The other living former president, 96-year-old Jimmy Carter, previously announced he would not attend Biden’s inauguration. Carter and his wife, 93-year-old Rosalynn Carter, have largely spent the coronavirus pandemic at their home in Plains, Georgia.

Carter had been the first former president to confirm that he was attending Donald Trump’s inaugural in 2017.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump departed Washington earlier Wednesday, skipping the Biden inaugural festivities and heading straight to their home in Florida. Trump is the first president since Andrew Johnson not to attend the inauguration of his successor.

10:20 a.m.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are showcasing American designers at their inauguration.

The president-elect is wearing a navy suit and navy overcoat by Ralph Lauren. Jill Biden is wearing an ocean-blue wool tweed coat and dress by American designer Alexandra O’Neill of the Markarian label.

Aides say Harris is wearing Christopher John Rogers and Sergio Hudson. Both are Black designers, Rogers from Louisiana and Hudson from South Carolina.

Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, wore a Ralph Lauren suit on Wednesday.

9:50 a.m.

Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen will resign when President-elect Joe Biden takes the oath of office.

The Justice Department says Rosen’s resignation goes into effect at noon Wednesday.

Rosen has run the department since former Attorney General William Barr resigned on Dec. 23. He was previously the deputy attorney general and deputy transportation secretary.

Rosen has kept a low profile since he assumed the top job at the Justice Department. He has not held a press conference or addressed the press corps since he took the role, even after a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. He has only released pre-recorded videos discussing the matter and issued statements.

Longtime Justice Department official Monty Wilkinson is expected to assume the role of acting attorney general while Judge Merrick Garland awaits confirmation by the Senate.

9:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump has followed at least one presidential tradition.

The White House says the Republican president left behind a note for his successor, Democrat Joe Biden.

Deputy press secretary Judd Deere declined to reveal what Trump wrote to Biden or to characterize the sentiment in the note, citing privacy for communication between presidents.

Trump has refused to publicly concede to Biden and did not mention the Democrat by name in a pair of farewell addresses.

Trump interrupted many traditions of the presidency, including by not attending Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. Trump also did not invite Biden to the White House for a meeting after Biden was declared the winner of November’s presidential election

Trump left the White House for the final time as president on Wednesday morning, saying, “It’s been a great honor, the honor of a lifetime.”

9:05 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he thinks the new administration will have “great success” and claims to have laid the foundation for it.

Trump says the new administration has the “foundation to do something really spectacular.” He made brief farewell remarks at Maryland’s Joint Base Andrews before he boarded Air Force One for a flight to his Florida home.

Trump did not mention President-elect Joe Biden by name during his Wednesday remarks.

Trump told cheering, chanting supporters he’ll be watching and listening from a distance. He promised he will be back “in some form” and wished the crowd a “good life” before he and his wife boarded the plane.

Trump wanted to be in Florida before Biden becomes president at noon.

8:35 a.m.

President-elect Joe Biden is attending church ahead of his inauguration, a traditional step taken ahead of the swearing-in ceremony.

Biden and incoming first lady Jill Biden on Wednesday are attending a service at Washington’s Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. With them are incoming Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff.

At Biden’s invitation, the first couple is joined by a bipartisan group of members of Congress, including all four top-ranking members of congressional leadership.

That includes both Senate leaders, Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat Chuck Schumer, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Many presidents have chosen St. John’s Episcopal Church, sometimes called “Church of the Presidents,” for the inaugural day service. Biden is the second Catholic U.S. president, and St. Matthew’s is the seat of the Catholic archbishop of Washington.

Biden spent Tuesday night at Blair House, a traditional move ahead of a president’s inauguration.

8:15 a.m.

Donald Trump has left the White House for the final time as president.

Trump emerged from the building Wednesday morning and strode across the South Lawn to board Marine One. He said, “It’s been a great honor, the honor of a lifetime.”

Trump now heads to Joint Base Andrews in suburban Maryland, where he’ll have a military sendoff. A red carpet has been placed on the tarmac for Trump to walk as he boards the plane. Four U.S. Army cannons are set up for a 21-gun salute. Trump then flies to Florida, where he’ll stay at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump is leaving Washington just hours before Joe Biden takes the oath of office as the 46th president. It’s the first time in more than a century that a sitting president has rejected the tradition of attending his successor’s inauguration.

7:45 a.m.

Two of the Biden administration’s top communications officials are describing the incoming president’s inaugural address as a forward-looking speech that will make little to no mention of his predecessor.

Communications director Kate Bedingfield told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday that President-elect Joe Biden’s address would “speak to the moment that we are in, but it will also lay out a vision for the future.”

Biden press secretary Jen Psaki tells CNN that Biden’s inaugural address is “definitely not a speech about Donald Trump” and she “wouldn’t expect” to hear about him in it.

Bedingfield says Biden had not had any contact with the outgoing president.

Asked why Biden had invited political opponents including House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy to join him at a Mass on Wednesday morning, Psaki said it “felt important to him personally to have members of both parties … and use that as an example to the American public.”

Bedingfield says Biden will sign 15 executive orders in some of his first moves as president.

7:35 a.m.

As the sun rose over Washington’s Freedom Plaza between the U.S. Capitol and the White House ahead of Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration, clusters of soldiers in full battle fatigues clustered inside metal barriers erected to restrict access to the procession route.

Some yellow placards on the barriers read “Biden-Harris 2021,” while others carried the seal of the presidency or inaugural insignias. American and District of Columbia flags flapped in high winds.

Traffic has been blocked off nearby in all directions. Revelers have been told to stay home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Most offices in the surrounding buildings are closed, many boarded up with plywood to prevent damage in case violence breaks out Wednesday.

But one tall office building in view of the procession route has been fitted with towering signs reading “Welcome, Mr. President” and “Welcome Madam Vice President,” for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

After being sworn in, Biden is set to inspect the readiness of military troops in a traditional “pass in review.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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