Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

Live Updates: Fireworks Light Up Sky To Celebrate Inauguration

Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Jus...

Photo by Saul Loeb / Associated Press

Above: 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.

Fireworks Light Up Sky To Celebrate Inauguration

– 11:01 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021

President Joe Biden is putting into play his national COVID-19 strategy to ramp up vaccinations and testing, reopen schools and businesses and increase the use of masks — including a requirement that Americans mask up for travel.

He'll sign 10 virus-related executive orders on Thursday as the nation is deep in the deadliest wave of the pandemic and facing worrisome new mutations.

Biden has vowed to take more aggressive measures than his predecessor to contain the virus, but he faces steep obstacles, including uncertainty over whether congressional Republicans will help pass his $1.9 trillion coronavirus package. — Associated Press

Fireworks Light Up Sky To Celebrate Inauguration

– 7:57 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

Fireworks lit up the sky behind the Washington Monument to mark the end of Inauguration Day for President Joe Biden.

Biden and first lady Jill Biden watched the end of the day’s events from a balcony in the White House on Wednesday night. The Bidens' grandchildren danced and clapped on the balcony.

While the coronavirus pandemic and security concerns in Washington vastly scaled back inaugural events, organizers created a celebratory atmosphere with live and recorded celebrity performances, ending with singer Katy Perry.

Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, watched the fireworks from the steps of the Washington Monument after Harris delivered brief remarks. — Associated Press

Bush, Clinton And Obama Celebrate Peaceful Transition Of Power

*– 7:34 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

Three former presidents are celebrating the transition of power that saw Democrat Joe Biden enter the White House.

In a pretaped video that aired during Biden’s inaugural television special Wednesday night, Republican George W. Bush, along with Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, wished Biden luck.

Obama said, “Inaugurations celebrate a tradition of a peaceful transfer of power that is over two centuries old.” But the mere fact that all three felt compelled to come together to address the issue speaks to the fraught moment the country faces.

President Donald Trump repeatedly and falsely insisted for months that the November election was stolen from him, and he whipped up a violent crowd of supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol two weeks ago seeking to overturn the certification of Biden win. He also snubbed his successor's inauguration.

In the video, Clinton urged Americans to get off their “high horses” and reach out to friends and neighbors with whom they may have differences. Bush said he wanted Biden to be successful because his “success is our country’s success.” — Associated Press

VP Talks Up 'American Aspiration' In 1st Speech

– 6:57 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

Kamala Harris talked about the power of “American aspiration” in her first speech to the nation as vice president.

With the Washington Monument lit up behind her Wednesday night, Harris called on Americans to remember “we are undaunted in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up.”

She also cast her ascension as the first female vice president as a demonstration of the nation’s character.

Borrowing a line she frequently used on the campaign trail, she said, “We not only see what has been — we see what can be.”

Harris gave a nod to American scientists, parents and teachers who are persevering through the coronavirus pandemic and encouraged people to “see beyond crises.” She spoke during President Joe Biden's “Celebrating America” event to mark the inauguration. — Associated Press

Springsteen Opens Biden's 'Celebrating America'

– 6:28 p.m, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

Bruce Springsteen sang “Land of Hope and Dreams” as he stood alone with his guitar in front of the Lincoln Memorial to open “Celebrating America," a broadcast special to honor the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

Springsteen said, “Good evening, America,” to open the 90-minute special airing across several networks on Wednesday night in place of the usual official inaugural balls.

Performing the 1999 song of solace, Springsteen sang, “I will provide for you, and I’ll stand by your side. You'll need a good companion, for this part of the ride.”

Host Tom Hanks, also at the Lincoln Memorial, introduced the show by saying, “In the last few weeks, in the last few years, we’ve witnessed deep divisions and a troubling rancor in our land. But tonight we ponder the United States of America.”

Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria are co-hosting the show, which will also include performances from John Legend, Katy Perry, Demi Lovato, the Foo Fighters, Justin Timberlake and Jon Bon Jovi. — Assoicated Press

Harris Move To Vice President's Residence Delayed For Repairs

– 5:44 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

Kamala Harris might be vice president, but she doesn’t get to enjoy all of the vice-presidential perks just yet.

Harris won’t immediately move into the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. A Harris aide says the delay will allow time for repairs to the home. The house needs its chimney liners replaced, among other fixes, and it’s easier to finish the work with the home unoccupied.

The former California senator has a home in downtown D.C. where she typically stayed while in town for work, but it’s unclear if she’ll remain there while waiting for the repairs to be completed.

Every vice president since Walter Mondale has lived at the Naval Observatory, and it’s been the site of visits from foreign dignitaries, events and gatherings hosted by vice presidents past. — Associated Press

Protesters Damage Dem Headquarters In Portland

- 5:05 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

A group of protesters carrying anti-President Joe Biden and anti-police signs is marching in Portland and damaged the headquarters of the Democratic Party of Oregon.

Police say the group smashed windows and spray-painted anarchist symbols at the political party building on Wednesday. It was one of at least four groups planning to gather in the city on Inauguration Day.

Police say officers on bicycles entered the crowd to contact someone with a weapon and to remove poles affixed to a banner that they thought could be used as a weapon. Police say the crowd swarmed the officers and threw objects at them.

Portland has been the site of frequent protests since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. Over the summer, there were demonstrations for more than 100 straight days.

Mayor Ted Wheeler recently decried what he described as a segment of violent agitators who detract from the message of police accountability and who should be subject to more severe punishment. — Associated Press

Psaki Says Biden Will Call Trudeau On Friday

- 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

White House press secretary Jen Psaki says President Joe Biden will call Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday, the first call with a foreign leader after Biden took the oath of office.

Psaki said Wednesday at her first press briefing that the subject of the call will be relations between the United States and Canada as well as the status of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, whose permitting Biden revoked in one of his first acts as president.

Psaki says Biden’s first round of calls to foreign leaders will be with allies, adding that the new president plans to repair relationships damaged by former President Donald Trump’s adversarial approach. — Associated Press

- 4:15 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

White House press secretary Jen Psaki is delivering the first news briefing of Joe Biden’s presidency, a once standard part of past administrations that was largely sidelined during the Trump era.

Psaki said Wednesday that she will bring truth and transparency to the White House briefing room, a clear reference to her predecessors under President Donald Trump.

The Trump administration took an openly combative tone with the news media. Sean Spicer, who was Trump’s first press secretary, set the tenor four years ago by claiming that the audience at Trump’s inauguration was the largest in history, despite photographic evidence to the contrary.

- 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

The Senate has voted to confirm Avril Haines as the new director of national intelligence, giving President Joe Biden the first member of his Cabinet.

The 84-10 vote by the Senate on Wednesday came after senators agreed to fast-track her nomination.

Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said it was fitting that Haines was confirmed first. He said the intelligence post is of “critical importance to the country.”

Haines told the Senate Intelligence Committee at a confirmation hearing Tuesday that China would be an important focus of the Biden administration. She said she sees her role as speaking “truth to power” and delivering accurate and apolitical intelligence even if it is uncomfortable or inconvenient for the administration.

The Senate was able to vote quickly on the nomination, and bypass a committee vote, after Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton dropped his objection. Cotton had said he wanted to hear from Haines on the Bush-era CIA interrogation program before he agreed to move forward. Haines was a deputy CIA director in the Obama administration.

National Archives Now Has Trump Records Website

- 3:35 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

The federal government has launched a new website that will serve as a clearinghouse for records from former President Donald Trump’s administration.

The National Archives and Records Administration announced the website on Wednesday. Eventually, it will be a repository of archived Trump-era documents, including his White House website and social media accounts. It will also offer information about accessing other records from Trump’s tenure.

The agency maintains records going back to President Herbert Hoover’s administration, which ended in 1933.

But there are questions about how meticulous the Trump administration was about keeping records. Trump was cavalier about a law requiring their preservation. He had a habit of ripping up documents before tossing them out.

That’s led some historians and archivists to worry that there will be a gaping hole in the history of Trump’s tumultuous four years in office. — Associated Press

Biden Tells Appointees: 'We Work For The People'

- 3:15 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

President Joe Biden is reminding his federal appointees and staff that “we work for the people” and is calling on them to be “decent, honorable and smart.”

Biden swore in nearly 1,000 federal appointees and staff in a virtual ceremony in the State Dining Room at the White House on Wednesday evening. He spoke from behind a lectern, while the appointees appeared at the event via video streams set up on a series of television screens.

Biden said that if any of his appointees treat a colleague with disrespect, he will fire them “on the spot.” He said that mindset had been missing in President Donald Trump's White House.

The new president also told the group that “we have such an awful lot to do” and said that containing the pandemic and administering COVID-19 vaccines will be the “most consequential logistical thing that’s ever been done in the United States.”

He said he’s “going to make mistakes” but promised during their swearing-in that he will ”acknowledge them” when he does. — Associated Press

Pompeo Ethos Sign Removed From State Dept. Lobby

- 2:40 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

One of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s signature achievements has met an abrupt end as a large placard enunciating his “professional ethos” was removed from the State Department’s main entrance.

Workers removed the giant sign from the department’s C Street lobby on Wednesday shortly after President Joe Biden was inaugurated. The placard had been prominently placed near a plaque honoring foreign service staff who died while serving their country, but many career diplomats considered it insulting and filled with unnecessary platitudes.

Department spokesperson Ned Price says, “We are confident that our colleagues do not need a reminder of the values we share.”

Pompeo unveiled his “ethos” statement to great fanfare in April 2019 with an eye toward improving morale. But it had the opposite effect, and many complained it was condescending.

Pompeo foes had accused the secretary and some of his top aides of failing to abide by the precepts of the ethos statement themselves, particularly during Trump’s Ukraine-related impeachment, when they decided not to publicly defend career diplomats. — Associated Press

- 2:20 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

President Joe Biden has signed a series of executive orders from the Oval Office hours after his inauguration.

Biden wore a mask while seated behind the Resolute Desk with a stack of orders early Wednesday evening. He said there was “no time to start like today.”

The first order Biden signed was related to the coronavirus pandemic. He also signed an order reentering the U.S. into the Paris climate accord.

While his predecessor Donald Trump broke long-standing practice by skipping Biden’s inauguration, he did follow through on one tradition and left behind a letter for Biden.

The new Democratic president said Trump “wrote a very generous letter.” But Biden said he wouldn’t reveal its contents until he had a chance to speak with Trump. — Associated Press

Biden Orders Federal Agencies To Halt Rulemaking

- 1:55 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

President Joe Biden has directed that federal agencies halt all rulemaking until his administration has time to review proposed regulations.

White House chief of staff Ron Klain announced the move in a memo to the heads of executive departments and agencies Wednesday afternoon, hours after Biden was sworn in as the nation's 46th president.

The regulatory freeze order is a staple of presidential transitions, allowing the incoming administration to review the pending actions of their predecessors. — Associated Press

- 1:50 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

Three new Democratic senators have been sworn in to office by Vice President Kamala Harris. That means their party now has control of the White House and Congress for the first time in a decade.

Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff both won Senate runoff elections in Georgia earlier this month, defeating Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Alex Padilla was appointed by California’s governor to fill Harris’ seat.

Wednesday was Harris’ first time presiding over the Senate.

Warnock is Georgia’s first Black senator, and Padilla is California’s first Hispanic senator. Ossoff is Georgia’s first Jewish senator and, at 33, the Senate’s youngest sitting member.

The Senate is now divided 50-50. Democrats will be in control because the vice president casts tiebreaking votes in the chamber. Democrats have a 221-211 House majority, with three vacancies.

Democrats last controlled the White House, Senate and House in January 2011. — Associated Press

- 1:40 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

The New Radicals reunited after more than 20 years to virtually perform their 1998 hit “You Get What You Give” at the celebration for President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

The anthem about social and political issues affecting America at the turn of the millennium raised eyebrows when it was announced for Wednesday’s festivities, but has strong connections to the president and vice president.

In Biden’s 2017 autobiography, “Promise Me, Dad,” he wrote that “You Get What You Give” became the family’s theme song when his son Beau was battling cancer. The song was also used on the campaign trail as the theme for Kamala Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, at rallies.

“This whole damn world could fall apart/You’ll be okay, follow your heart,” go some of the lyrics. “Don’t give up, you’ve got a reason to live/Can’t forget, we only get what we give.”

The new administration also was serenaded — virtually, of course — by some of the funkiest artists in American music: Earth, Wind & Fire and Niles Rogers with Kathy Sledge.

Three members of Earth Wind & Fire — Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Ralph Johnson — performed their hit “Sing a Song,” while Rogers and Sledge combined for a version of Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family.”

The performances, interspliced with marching bands, varied performances and stories from Biden-Harris supporters, played on social media and online after the Biden and Harris families concluded the inauguration parade. — Associated Press

- 1:20 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

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. — Associated Press

- 12:50 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

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. — Associated Press

- 12:45 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

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.” — Associated Press

San Diego County Politicians React To Biden, Harris Inauguration

- 12:50 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

Some of San Diego County’s political leaders released statements Wednesday in reaction to the inauguration.

Congressman Darrell Issa, R-50, said he “welcomed (Biden’s) words of unity.”:

“Every Inauguration Day is a celebration of our enduring democracy — and today continues that uniquely American tradition. I have known President Biden for more than 20 years, I welcome his words of unity, and the country stands to benefit if he keeps the promises he made during the campaign to bring us together. Today is also a time to pray for our nation and its success. May God continue to bless America.”

Fellow Congressman Scott Peters, D-52, expressed his confidence in the new administration’s leadership:

“I have the greatest confidence that President Biden and Vice President Harris will guide our country forward with courage, respect and conviction. They will navigate our country out of this pandemic, tackle the climate crisis and restore American leadership abroad. Now is the time for unity, and I look forward to working with the White House and anyone, regardless of political party or title, to solve problems and create a more equitable and prosperous future for all Americans.”

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said the city “is read to stand with this new administration.”:

“Today, I am filled with a renewed sense of hope and optimism for the future of our country under the leadership of President Joe Biden and, my friend, Vice President Kamala Harris. Together, I know they will provide compassionate leadership and a steady hand to navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, economic uncertainty, climate change and the fight for racial justice.

“San Diego is ready to stand with this new administration as true partners as we rebuild our nation. Now it is time for all of us to come together, heal and move forward.”

Rep. Sarah Jacobs, D-53, spoke of being proud of Harris’ rise to the vice presidency.

“As a Californian and a young woman, I was incredibly proud to watch Kamala Harris become the first woman Vice President, first Black Vice President, and first Asian American Vice President. As a young woman growing up, it was so meaningful for me to see women in positions of leadership across San Diego and California, and I’m so excited that kids across this country will now be able to see themselves represented in leadership.” — Lara McCaffrey, KPBS web producer

Graham hopes Trump Stays Republican Party Leader

-12:35 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina says he hopes Donald Trump will continue to be the leader of the Republican Party after his election defeat and second impeachment.

The Republican senator said Wednesday during an interview on Fox News that “if you're wanting to erase Donald Trump from the party, you’re going to get erased.”

Over the course of Trump's one-term presidency, Graham went from being one of his fiercest critics to being one of his most prominent allies in Congress.

Graham said it was inappropriate for Republicans in Congress to try to overturn President Joe Biden's victory and called Trump’s comments ahead of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot “a big mistake.” But he says ultimately that it wasn't a crime and that he blames "the people that came into the Capitol, not him."

He said he thinks there would be a lot of support for Trump if he ran again in 2024.

He added: “But I’m not worried about 2024. I want to help Biden where I can, I want to get this country back on track.” — Associated Press

-12:25 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton says it really lifted her heart to see Joe Biden sworn in as president on the same platform that supporters of President Donald Trump climbed when they attacked the Capitol two weeks ago.

Clinton and her husband, the former President Bill Clinton, attended Wednesday’s inauguration of Biden. Afterward, she told The Associated Press that she was “relieved and grateful” to see Biden sworn in with a peaceful transition of power.

That’s been taken for granted in the U.S. for over two centuries. But two weeks ago, hundreds of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from formally certifying Biden’s election victory over Trump.

The House impeached Trump a week later on a charge of inciting an insurrection.

Clinton says she thinks it was meaningful to many Americans to see Biden take his oath of office where, “just a few weeks ago, marauders and terrorists had been attempting to stop democracy.”

Trump defeated Clinton for the presidency in 2016.

-12:15 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

The highest-ranking Black member of Congress says former President George W. Bush lauded his role as a “savior” in helping get President Joe Biden elected to the White House.

U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said Wednesday on a call with reporters that the Republican former president told him ahead of the inaugural ceremony that, if he had not given Biden the boost he did ahead of South Carolina’s primary, “we would not be having this transfer of power today.”

Clyburn says Bush went on to say that Biden was “the only one who could have defeated the incumbent president,” Donald Trump. Trump and the Bush family didn’t get along.

Clyburn’s pivotal endorsement ahead of South Carolina’s Democratic primary helped propel Biden to the nomination. Biden won South Carolina by a margin of nearly 30 points.

Clyburn, South Carolina’s only Democratic representative in Congress, is the dean of the state’s Democrats and the third-ranking member of the U.S. House.

-12:05 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

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.

-11:35 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

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.

Biden, Harris Inspect Troops From Capitol Steps

-11:15 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

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. — Associated Press

Congress Presents Biden, Harris With Gifts

-10:50 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

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. — Associated Press

Harris Gives Sendoff To Pence On Capitol Steps

-10:40 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

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. — Associated Press

Calm At State Capitols As Biden Is Sworn In

- 9:50 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

Calm prevailed outside heavily fortified state capitol buildings 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 Donald Trump repeatedly and falsely claimed the election was stolen from him.

Fewer than a half-dozen demonstrators showed up outside the capitols in Concord, New Hampshire, and Lansing, Michigan. 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. — Associated Press

Official Swearing-In Ceremony For Biden Ends

- 9:45 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

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.”

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. — Associated Press

Inaugural Poet Summons Dire, Triumphant Images

- 9:40 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

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.” — Associated Press

Garth Brooks Sings Gospel-Tinged 'Amazing Grace'

- 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

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. — Associated Press

Biden Calls On Americans To Overcome Divisions

- 9:10 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

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.” — Associated Press

Biden At Inauguration: 'Democracy Has Prevailed'

- 9:05 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

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. — Associated Press

Biden Sworn In As Nation's 46th President

- 8:54 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

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. — Associated Press

Harris Sworn In As 1st Female Vice President

- 8:45 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

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. — Associated Press

Biden, Harris Inauguration Ceremony Begins

– 8:30 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

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. — Associated Press

Biden, Harris Arrive At Capitol For Inauguration

– 7:51 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

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. — Associated Press

Biden Calls For Remembrance At COVID-19 Memorial

– 3:46 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021

At a memorial for the lives taken by COVID-19, President-elect Joe Biden is calling on Americans to remember those lost to the coronavirus and to begin to heal.

Biden said Tuesday night, on the eve of his inauguration, that although it’s “hard sometimes to remember,” it’s “how we heal."

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, speaking before him, emphasized a similar note of unity. While Americans have been grieving alone for most of the pandemic, Harris said, "Tonight we grieve, and begin healing, together.”

The memorial included an invocation from Cardinal Wilton Gregory, who asked that “our prayer strengthen our awareness of our common humanity and our national unity.” A Detroit nurse, Lori Marie Key, sang “Amazing Grace,” noting that the song gives her strength during hard times.

The remembrance ceremony was held at the Lincoln Memorial's reflecting pool, which was lit up with 400 lights in honor of the 400,000 Americans who have died from the virus. After Biden’s brief remarks, gospel singer Yolanda Adams sang “Hallelujah." — Associated Press

Biden Team Releases Details Of Inaugural Parade

– 2:45 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021

Joe Biden’s presidential inaugural parade will feature 1,391 virtual participants, 95 horses and nine dogs.

Biden’s inaugural event planners says actor Tony Goldwyn will host Wednesday’s virtual “Parade Across America” that kicks off after Biden is sworn in as president. Goldwyn played a president on the television drama “Scandal.”

Live portions of the parade will be announced by Charlie Brotman, who has announced nearly every inaugural parade since President Dwight Eisenhower.

Well-known performers and athletes will participate, along with military bands and performers and speakers in communities across the country.

Concerns about spreading the coronavirus led the planners to drastically reimagine Biden’s inauguration, including scrapping some traditional events and making other events virtual. — Associated Press

Trump Doesn't Mention Biden In Farewell Address

– 1:45 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021

President Donald Trump does not mention his successor, Democrat Joe Biden, by name in his farewell address.

Trump refers to the “next” and “new” administration in the nearly 20-minute speech taped in the White House Blue Room and released Tuesday, on the eve of Biden's inauguration.

Trump has refused to publicly concede to Biden. He spent the weeks after the election blaming his loss on widespread voter fraud that didn't exist. Trump’s efforts to overturn the will of the voters peaked on Jan. 6 when a violent mob of his supporters overran the Capitol as Congress met to certify Biden’s victory. Five people died.

Trump acknowledged in his farewell address that he will “hand power over to a new administration at noon on Wednesday” — when Trump’s term ends and Biden’s begins. — Associated Press

Pence Headed To Indiana After Biden Inauguration

– 1:28 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021

Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence will be returning to his southern Indiana hometown after the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

The Indiana Republican Party says the former Indiana governor and his wife, Karen, are expected to attend Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday and then fly to Columbus Municipal Airport, where they will greeted by supporters.

Barbara Hackman, the Bartholomew County Republican Party chairperson, says that group of about 50 people is expected to include Pence’s brother, U.S. Rep. Greg Pence, and some state lawmakers.

Pence grew up in Columbus, and some family members still live there. But Pence hasn’t owned a home in Indiana for at least the past eight years. He lived in the Indiana governor's residence before moving to the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington as vice president.

Pence hasn’t said where he plans to live when his vice presidential term ends. — Associated Press

Biden Arrives In DC On Eve Of Inauguration

– 1:00 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021

Joe Biden is making his return to the Washington area on the eve of his inauguration as the nation’s 46th president.

Biden touched down at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Tuesday afternoon, taking a brief flight from his home state of Delaware down to the District of Columbia. In contrast to his predecessor, Biden flew on a chartered plane. President Donald Trump arrived at the base in 2017 on a government plane.

Biden’s decision to fly came as a response to growing security concerns surrounding his inauguration. The Democrat had originally planned to travel to Washington by Amtrak, which he rode to and from Washington throughout his Senate career, but the option was scrapped amid threats of violence against the president-elect.

Biden is slated to deliver remarks with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at a COVID-19 memorial later Tuesday, before spending the night at Blair House, the president’s official guesthouse.

He will be inaugurated on Wednesday. — Associated Press

– 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021

In his farewell address, President Donald Trump says he will pray for the success of the next administration.

The White House released excerpts of the video address ahead of its planned release Tuesday afternoon, a day ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. In the video, Trump will say, “This week, we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous.”

Trump will also address the storming of the Capitol building by his supporters after he directed them to “fight” the election results showing he lost.

He will say that “all Americans were horrified by the assault on our Capitol” and that “political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as Americans” and “can never be tolerated.”

Trump will also trumpet what he sees as his top achievements in office, including efforts to normalize relations in the Middle East.

He’ll say: “We did what we came here to do — and so much more.” — Associated Press

– 12:15 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021

Pentagon officials say 12 Army National Guard members have been removed from securing President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration after vetting by the FBI, including two who posted and texted extremist views about Wednesday’s event.

There was no specific threat to Biden.

Two U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties to right-wing militia groups or posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe group the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard, confirmed Tuesday that the Guard members had been removed and sent home but said only two were for inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. The other 10 were for other potential issues that may involve previous criminal activity, but not directly related to the inaugural event.

The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.”

It’s unclear whether they will face discipline when they return home. — Lolita Baldor and James LaPorta, Associated Press

– 11:05 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021

In an emotional farewell, President-elect Joe Biden promised that even as he departs for Washington, D.C., to be sworn in, “I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware.”

Speaking Tuesday at an event at the National Guard headquarters in Delaware named for his late son, Beau, Biden’s voice became thick with emotion as he told the crowd that “when I die, I’ve got Delaware written on my heart.” He said that “it’s deeply personal that our next journey to Washington starts here — the place that defines the very best of who we are as Americans.”

Biden gave farewell remarks to about 100 people, including numerous Delaware elected officials and members of Biden’s family.

He’s leaving Wilmington via plane Tuesday afternoon and will appear at a memorial for COVID-19 victims at the Lincoln Memorial in the evening. Biden will spend the night at Blair House, the president’s official guesthouse, before moving into the White House after he is sworn in Wednesday. — Associated Press

10:55 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021

Ten additional U.S. Army National Guard members are being removed from the security mission for the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official and a U.S. Army official briefed on the matter. The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity citing Pentagon regulations.

Early Tuesday morning, the FBI sent a list of names to the National Guard Bureau who were identified as having ties to fringe right-wing groups or had posted extremist views. No active plots against Biden were found. The information was passed from the National Guard Bureau to the D.C. National Guard.

Earlier, the AP reported that two other National Guard members had also been pulled from the security mission in Washington ahead of Wednesday’s presidential inauguration, bringing the total number so far to 12. — James LaPorta, Associated Press

Election 2020 news coverage

FEATURED PODCAST

San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Curious San Diego banner

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.