Joe Biden was sworn in as the nation's 46th president Wednesday, and Kamala Harris made history as the first Black, female and South Asian American to become vice president.
Set against a backdrop of a locked-down Washington and a socially distanced ceremony, Biden made a plea for national unity in his inaugural address as political, economic and health care crises grip the nation.
He takes over the presidency two weeks after a deadly pro-Trump riot at Capitol Hill and as deaths from Covid-19 continue to rise. Since the pandemic began early last year, the disease has killed more than 400,000 people in the United States.
The first members of Biden's Cabinet are slated to be sworn in over the next few days, as well, including Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary. Biden's Democratic Party, likewise, will assume a bare majority in the Senate after three new lawmakers – Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia, and Alex Padilla of California – also take their oaths of office.
Trump, meanwhile, faces his second impeachment trial in the Senate, even though he will be out of power. The Democratic-controlled House, with the help of 10 Republicans, charged Trump with inciting the insurrection at the Capitol. The trial could begin this week.
Trump, in his farewell address, glossed over the Capitol riot, which resulted in five deaths. He did not mention Biden by name in the speech.
Here's what you need to know right now
- Biden sworn in as 46th president, ending Trump era
- 'We must end this uncivil war' — Biden calls for unity
- POTUS arrives at White House and signs executive actions
- Harris sworn in as vice president, the first Black woman to hold the office
- McConnell and Pence represent GOP in Trump's absence
- Trump has arrived in Florida after departing Washington
President Biden addresses the nation during 'Celebrating America' inauguration special
President Joe Biden addressed the nation during the "Celebrating America" inauguration special, which kicked off with Bruce Springsteen's "Land of Hopes and Dreams."
"There are moments in our history when more is asked of us as Americans ... we are in one of those moments now," Biden said. "The question is: Are we up to it? Will we meet the moment like our forebearers have?"
Hosted by Tom Hanks, the primetime special will feature remarks from Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, and performances from musical acts.
"In truth, Inauguration Day is about much more than the swearing-in of our next national leaders. This day is about witnessing the permanence of our American ideal," Hanks said.
— Riya Bhattacharjee, NBC News
Biden press secretary slaps Trump's wall, Muslim travel ban in first White House briefing
President Joe Biden's press secretary verbally slapped two of ex-President Donald Trump's cherished policies, calling his would-be Mexican border wall a waste of billions of dollars, and saying his Muslim-focused travel ban was based on religious bias.
Jen Psaki, in her first White House briefing, coolly made those digs at Trump's policies as she went through a slew of executive actions that Biden signed within hours of being sworn in as president.
One of those orders repealed Trump's ban on travel from a number of nations whose residents are primarily Muslims.
Psaki called the policy the "Muslim ban," saying it was "rooted in religious animus and xenophobia."
In another order, Biden halted federal funding and construction of the southern border wall, whose erection Trump falsely claimed would be paid for by Mexico.
Psaki also tartly said Biden terminated "the so-called national emergency used to wastefully divert billions [of dollars] for wall construction."
— Dan Mangan
Press secretary: Biden wants to bring truth and transparency back to the briefing room
President Joe Biden wants "truth and transparency back in the briefing room," said new White House press secretary Jen Psaki, drawing a tacit distinction with her predecessors in the Trump administration.
Psaki, in her first appearance before reporters in the James S. Brady Briefing Room of the White House, said that "rebuilding trust with the American people" will be "central to our focus in the press office."
"There will be times when we see things differently in this room," Psaki said. "That's OK. That's part of our democracy."
While each of President Donald Trump's four press secretaries took their own approach to handling the media, they all came under regular criticism from reporters for offering misleading statements, withholding information or sparring with the press.
Sean Spicer, the first to hold the title under Trump, began his very first briefing by aggressively and falsely asserting that the president's inauguration crowd had been "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period."
Psaki, who formerly served as a communications official in the Obama administration, offered a stark contrast to Spicer's pugnacious kickoff.
— Kevin Breuninger
White House press secretary Jen Psaki holds first press briefing for Biden administration
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden's press secretary, Jen Psaki, is slated to give the administration's first press briefing at 7 p.m. from the White House podium.
In the several hours since Biden was sworn in as president, he has signed more than a dozen executive orders from the Oval Office.
Before joining the Biden administration, Psaki served in the Obama administration as the White House's deputy press secretary and then as the White House communications director. She previously served as the State Department's spokesperson.
— Amanda Macias
Democrats take control of Congress and the White House
Democrats now control both chambers of Congress and the White House.
The party gained a narrow Senate majority when Vice President Kamala Harris swore in Sens. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., and Alex Padilla, D-Calif. Harris will hold a tiebreaking vote in a Senate split 50-50 by party. Warnock and Ossoff won special elections earlier this month, while Padilla was appointed to fill Harris' vacant Senate seat.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will now control what comes to the Senate floor as President Joe Biden aims to fill out his Cabinet and pass a coronavirus relief package. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., argued narrow Democratic congressional majorities following the 2020 election signal voters do not want sweeping change.
The Senate has a mountain of tasks in the weeks ahead, including confirmation of Biden's nominees, an impeachment trial for former President Donald Trump and another possible bill to boost the health and economic response to the pandemic.
— Jacob Pramuk
Biden says Trump wrote him a 'generous letter,' but won't say what was in it
Joe Biden, speaking to reporters in the Oval Office for the first time as president, said that former President Donald Trump wrote him a "very generous letter."
But "because it was private, I won't talk about it until I talk to him," Biden said. "But it was generous."
Biden had been asked about the letter — a decades-old tradition among outgoing presidents — after signing three out of more than a dozen executive actions, many of which were aimed at reversing Trump's policies.
Among those he signed was an order for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris climate agreement, which Trump pulled the nation out of in 2017.
Biden, seated at the Resolute Desk, also signed an order mandating masks and social distancing on federal property and areas of interstate commerce under his authority.
While the text of Trump's note to Biden was unknown, the former president may have taken a cue from his own predecessor, Barack Obama, who offered thoughtful advice and an extended invitation to help out.
Trump in a 2017 interview had praised Obama's note, saying, "It was long. It was complex. It was thoughtful. And it took time to do it. And I appreciated it. And I called him and thanked him."
— Kevin Breuninger
Biden rejoins Paris climate pact, ends border wall construction with first executive orders
In one of his first official actions as president, Joe Biden has signed more than a dozen executive orders from the Oval Office.
The orders were diverse in their impact, ranging from a mask mandate on all federal property to revisions of directives introduced by former President Donald Trump, including halting the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Biden's first orders also recommitted the U.S. to the World Health Organization, ended the so-called Muslim travel ban and asked for an extension of a student loan payments pause.
The new president plans to sign several other orders throughout his first week in office. The White House is expected to announce subsequent orders in the coming days.
— Thomas Franck
Trump and Pence both left notes for their successors
Before he left the White House, former President Donald Trump left a note for President Joe Biden in the Oval Office, a White House official told NBC News.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who unlike Trump was present at Biden's inauguration, also left a note for incoming Vice President Kamala Harris, another White House official told NBC.
For decades, outgoing presidents have traditionally left messages of encouragement for their successors, regardless of party affiliation. George W. Bush left a note for Barack Obama when he took office in 2009, and Obama did the same for Trump in 2017.
Other ex-White House officials said that they, too, left notes for the incoming Biden administration.
— Kevin Breuninger
Biden chief of staff issues memo freezing Trump rules from coming into effect
Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, issued a memo to the heads of executive departments directing them not to move forward with any new rules or regulations before they can be reviewed by a political appointee from the incoming administration.
The memo will prevent regulations that were prepared by the Trump administration but which have not yet been finalized from taking effect while the Biden administration boots up.
The order allows for the Office of Management and Budget to provide exceptions for some emergency rules affecting health and safety or national security.
Trump pursued an agenda of aggressive deregulation. In contrast, Biden has pledged a robust use of the federal government's regulatory powers to fight climate change, enforce workers' rights and accomplish other key Democratic goals.
— Tucker Higgins
Bidens welcomed by usher at White House
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden entered the White House a little before 4 p.m. where they were greeted by an usher, another break in tradition on Inauguration Day.
The outgoing president and first lady typically welcome the incoming first couple at the steps of the White House. Former President Donald Trump left Washington on Air Force One on Wednesday morning after a farewell celebration at Joint Base Andrews.
The Bidens were followed into America's most famous residence by their family.
— Amanda Macias
Sen. Chris Coons says Biden has 'practical' bent, hopes for cooperation in Congress
"I think it's possible for Joe Biden, by responding to this pandemic in a competent and caring way, to actually build his political capital, to surprise the American people by showing that he and [GOP Sen.] Mitch McConnell, that the leaders in the House and the Senate, can actually work together to solve problems," said Coons, a close ally to Biden and his fellow Delawarean.
In an interview on "Power Lunch," Coons said most Americans are fed up by inaction and partisan bickering from Congress. "Joe is someone who has never forgotten where he's from, who has a practical, common-sense bent and who sees the suffering of the American people."
"He's going to give us a chance to move forward, boldly, together, and I pray that the Congress takes him up on it," Coons said.
— Kevin Stankiewicz
Biden and Harris kick off virtual "Parade Across America"
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris received a presidential escort to the White House following the inaugural ceremony and a visit to the Arlington National Cemetery.
The escort included representatives of law enforcement and military groups. Biden's motorcade was accompanied by the drumline of his alma mater, The University of Delaware, and Harris' motorcade was accompanied by the marching band of her alma mater, Howard University.
The president and vice president's arrival kicks off a virtual "Parade Across America" hosted by actor Tony Goldwyn and featuring performances across the country.
— Hannah Miao
President Biden arrives at the White House
President Joe Biden has arrived at the White House, where he is expected to kick off his term by signing more than a dozen executive orders related to the Covid pandemic and other issues.
The president and first lady Jill Biden rolled up to Pennsylvania Avenue in the presidential motorcade after 3:40 p.m., then stepped out of the limo to walk. The 46th president held his wife's hand for much of the brief walk to the White House, at times jogging away to greet onlookers on the side of the street.
Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff made their way to the White House minutes later, walking into the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where the vice president has offices.
The arrival at the White House followed a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, and a military review at the East front of the Capitol.
Biden, who issued a broad call for national unity in his first presidential address to the nation, is expected to sign a slew of orders that reverse many of the policies put in place by his predecessor, former President Donald Trump.
— Kevin Breuninger
Biden and Harris attend wreath ceremony at Arlington with Obama, Bush and Clinton
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris along with former presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and their spouses participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
The cemetery, which is located across the Potomac River from Washington, is the final resting place to more than 400,000 service members, veterans and their families.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier includes the remains of unknown service members from World War I, World War II and the Korean War. Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as The Old Guard, keep vigil 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at the Tomb.
— Amanda Macias
McConnell gifts Harris flag from the Senate floor
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell congratulated Vice President Kamala Harris during a brief ceremony after she was officially sworn into office.
"Not only did we just swear in a son and daughter of the Senate to these high offices, but indeed both these senators skipped the House altogether," said McConnell to a few laughs.
Harris is the first Black and Asian American woman to hold the position, and she is the highest-ranking female elected official in U.S. history.
McConnell gifted Harris a flag from the Senate floor where they worked together throughout the last four years when she represented California.
— Christian Nunley
Biden signs first documents as president
President Joe Biden signed the first government documents of his term just minutes after being sworn in.
From the President's Room of the U.S. Capitol, Biden formalized his Cabinet appointments and some nominations to sub-Cabinet level roles. Biden also signed a proclamation on the inauguration. He is expected to sign a number of executive actions later in the day, including rejoining the Paris Agreement on climate change.
— Tucker Higgins
Former GOP Sen. Corker says U.S. ideological divide could lead to new party
Former Sen. Bob Corker said on CNBC he believes President Joe Biden struck the right tone in his inauguration speech.
However, the Tennessee Republican cautioned that even with Biden's calls for unity, clear ideological differences remain between the GOP and Democrats and suggested a new political party could form.
"For years ... people have talked about having an independent party that linked together the more moderate, centrist individuals on both sides of the aisle that really want to solve our nation's problems," said Corker, whose Senate tenure ended in January 2019.
"Then we've had people on ... more extremes of the parties that have pulled it in a different direction on both sides. I think we're going through a period of time where it's very possible you could have a different party break out."
But Corker told CNBC's Shepard Smith that more immediately he wants to see current Republicans and Democrats in Washington work to address issues facing the country.
"I hope that both parties will get serious about making our nation stronger," Corker said. "President Biden's speech indicated that's the direction he wants to go, and I'd like to see that occur, but there will be policy differences."
— Kevin Stankiewicz
Amanda Gorman delivers poem as youngest inaugural poet in history
Amanda Gorman, 22, became the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history after reciting her poem "The Hill We Climb."
"But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated," Gorman read. "In this truth, in this faith, we trust."
Gorman is the current United States Poet Laureate. At age 16, Gorman became the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles and later became the first National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017 as a sociology student at Harvard.
First Lady Jill Biden invited Gorman to participate in the inauguration in late December after hearing the poet at the Library of Congress.
Gorman immediately made waves following her reading at the inaugural ceremony, becoming the top trending Google search topic in the U.S.
Her words rang across the country: "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."
— Hannah Miao
Harris bids adieu to Pence on steps of Capitol
Former Vice President Mike Pence and former second lady Karen Pence said farewell to Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff from the steps of the Capitol.
The Pences and Harris and Emhoff chatted and laughed on the steps briefly before the Pences drove away.
There was no parallel farewell for Biden, as Trump refused to attend the inauguration, becoming the first president not to attend the swearing-in of his successor since 1869.
— Tucker Higgins
Pentagon announces transition of power as Biden assumes office
WASHINGTON — As President Joe Biden gave his first speech following the oath of office, the Pentagon announced that Deputy Defense Secretary David 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 served as the deputy secretary since July 2019.
The statement said John Whitely is acting secretary of the Army, Tom Harker is acting secretary of the Navy and John Roth is acting secretary of the Air Force.
Biden's pick to run the Pentagon is retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin. If confirmed by the Senate, Austin will become the nation's first Black secretary of Defense.
— Amanda Macias
'Unity is our path forward' — Biden delivers sweeping call to the nation in first presidential address
President Joe Biden delivered a sweeping call for unity in his first address to the nation following his inauguration as the 46th president of the United States.
"Without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos," Biden said at the Capitol.
"We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural vs. urban, conservative vs. liberal," Biden said. "We can do this, if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts, if we show a little tolerance, ... if we're willing to stand in the other person's shoes."
"This is our historic moment, of crisis and challenge, and unity is our path forward. And we must meet this moment as the United States of America," he said.
Biden acknowledged the deep divisions and competing crises he is inheriting from his predecessor, Donald Trump. He addressed the coronavirus pandemic, the rise of political extremism and the ongoing struggle over racial injustice, among other daunting challenges.
"We have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities. Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build and much to gain," Biden said.
"I know that speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days. I know that the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know, they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal, that we all are created equal, and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization, have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial, and victory is never assured," Biden said.
The president vowed to defeat White supremacy and the Covid pandemic, and to restore the nation's frayed alliances abroad. And he made a direct appeal to Americans who did not vote for him, asking them to give him a chance.
"Politics doesn't have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn't have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject a culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured," Biden said.
"To all those who did not support us, ... hear me out," Biden said. "If you still disagree, so be it. That's democracy. That's America."
But "hear me clearly," he added. "Disagreement must not lead to disunion. And I pledge this to you: I will be a president for all Americans."
— Kevin Breuninger
'Congratulations, Mr. President' — Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president
Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the oath of office to Biden on the stage of the West front of the Capitol, which overlooked a small and socially distanced crowd.
"Congratulations, Mr. President," Roberts said when Biden was officially sworn in.
— Kevin Breuninger
Harris takes oath, becomes first Black, female and South Asian vice president
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris took the oath of office, repeating after Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor. In so doing, Harris became the first Black, female and South Asian vice president in U.S. history.
GOP Sen. Roy Blunt says inauguration is a moment of unity
Inauguration committee chairman Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, followed Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., delivering a short speech declaring the inauguration a moment of unity.
"Americans have celebrated this moment during war, during depression, and now during pandemic," Blunt said. "Once again, all three branches of our government come together as the Constitution envisions."
Blunt said that "one political party" had more to be pleased about on Inauguration Day, but noted that was the case "on every inaugural day."
"This is not a moment of division," Blunt said. "It's a moment of unification. A new administration begins and brings with it a new beginning. And with that, our great national debate goes forward and a determined democracy will continue to be essential in pursuit of a more perfect union and a better future for all Americans."
"We are more than we have been and we are less than we hope to be. The assault on our Capitol at this very place just two weeks ago reminds us that a government designed to balance and check itself is both fragile and resilient," Blunt said.
-- Tucker Higgins
Supreme Court Justices Breyer, Alito and Thomas to miss inauguration due to health concerns
Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas are set to miss the inauguration due to Covid concerns, according to a statement from court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg.
However, other justices will be there. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of color confirmed to serve as a Supreme Court justice will swear in Kamala Harris as vice president, the first woman and first person of color in that position.
Chief Justice John Roberts will then swear in Joseph R. Biden as America's 46th president.
— Christian Nunley
Biden's treasured family Bible will be used for swearing in
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden will use a Bible that has been in his family for nearly 130 years when he takes his oath of office.
The Bible, which is about 5 inches thick and embellished with a Celtic cross, was also used during Biden's swearing-in ceremony as vice president in 2009 and 2013. He also placed his hand on this Bible each time he was sworn-in as a U.S. senator.
Biden's late son, Beau, also used the family Bible for his own swearing-in ceremony as attorney general of Delaware.
— Amanda Macias
Joe and Jill Biden walk out on the Capitol stage
President-elect Joe Biden and soon-to-be first lady Jill Biden stepped out on the stage of the west front of the Capitol to a military band fanfare and applause from the small but illustrious crowd of attendees.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the president-elect of the United States, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., and Dr. Jill Biden," an announcer said as the president-elect, wearing a dark suit and blue tie, and his wife, clad in a light blue dress suit, walked out.
Both Bidens wore masks.
Biden shared a fist-bump with former President Barack Obama as he approached his seat.
— Kevin Breuninger
Sen. Amy Klobuchar kicks off inaugural ceremony
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota kicked off the ceremony around 11:20 a.m. ET, welcoming Vice President Mike Pence, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
The Democratic senator noted the historic nature of Harris' election as the country's first Black, female and South Asian vice president.
She also reflected on the Capitol Hill riots of Jan. 6 and called upon the country to see the "torch of democracy not as a weapon of political arson, but as an instrument for good."
Trump disembarks Air Force One for the last time as president
With less than an hour remaining in his presidency, Donald Trump disembarked Air Force One in Florida and stepped into the presidential motorcade.
Trump descended the staircase alongside first lady Melania Trump, who left the White House on Wednesday morning in an all-black outfit but emerged in West Palm Beach wearing a bright, busily patterned dress.
The motorcade was expected to drive Trump to Mar-a-Lago, his beachside resort and, as of last year, his primary residence.
Biden is set to be sworn into office around noon. Trump, breaking with tradition, declined to attend his successor's inauguration.
— Kevin Breuninger
Capitol Police Eugene Goodman escorts Harris to inauguration
Eugene Goodman, one of the Capitol Police officers responsible for diverting violent insurrectionists away from the vulnerable Senate floor, is escorting Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to the inauguration steps.
Shortly following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Goodman was promoted to acting deputy House sergeant-at-arms.
According to The Washington Post, bipartisan lawmakers have considered awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Goodman and other officers who defended the Senate from the mob.
— Christian Nunley
Dark-money organizer of rally that led to riot looks to cheer on Trump in Florida
A dark-money group that helped organize a rally that led to a riot on Capitol Hill is shifting their campaign to Florida to cheer on the arrival of President Donald Trump.
Beyond the move showing the group will continue to back Trump even while he's out of office, it shows that the president could have outside money support if he decides to run again in 2024.
The group, Women for America First, put out on its social media pages that it is ready to welcome Trump in Palm Beach, Florida, where he is headed after departing Washington and the location of his private club, Mar-a-Lago. The organization is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit and is known as a dark-money group because it does not disclose its donors.
"On our way to welcome President Donald J. Trump & First Lady Melania home to Palm Beach, Florida," the group said on Twitter. It wrote a similar post on its Facebook page.
The tweet also shows pictures of a bus with the same logo as the one it once promoted that was part of its "caravan" into Washington for the now infamous Jan. 6 rally. That rally led to a riot at the U.S. Capitol, leaving at least five people dead. The president was later impeached for the second time by the House of Representatives after he encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol.
Women for America First is chaired by Amy Kremer, a longtime political operative who was once the head of the Tea Party Express. Kylie Jane Kremer, the executive director of Women for Trump, was named on the rally's permit as the person in charge
Another post on Twitter includes a Periscope video with someone exiting what appears to be one of the Women for America First's buses. The person holding the camera says "Morning patriots" and later pans to the bus that has Trump's face. There is also video of Trump supporters lining the street with American flags.
— Brian Schwartz
Supreme Court examined after bomb threat
The Supreme Court building was examined on Inauguration Day after a bomb threat was made, a spokeswoman said.
The was not being evacuated, the spokeswoman, Kathleen Arberg, said in a statement.
The court plays a symbolic role in the presidential transfer of power. Chief Justice John Roberts will swear in Joe Biden as president and Justice Sonia Sotomayor will swear in Kamala Harris as vice president. Other justices are expected to attend the ceremony.
Much of the court's work has been done outside of its historic building since shortly after the Covid pandemic hit the U.S. last year.
— Tucker Higgins
President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Harris arrive at U.S. Capitol
The president-elect arrived at the U.S. Capitol complex just before 10:30 a.m. ET, where he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will soon take the oath of office.
Joining Biden and Dr. Jill Biden on their way into the building was Democratic colleague Sen. Amy Klobuchar. The Minnesota lawmaker will deliver remarks at the inauguration later in the day.
Former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton George W. Bush arrive at U.S. Capitol
WASHINGTON – Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama arrived at the U.S. Capitol for Biden's inauguration.
Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also arrived at the U.S. Capitol followed by Republican former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush.
Former President Jimmy Carter was not able attend due to Covid and health conditions, according to a spokesperson. The 96-year-old Carter is the oldest living president.
Following the inauguration, the former presidents will accompany Biden to Arlington National Cemetery to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony.
– Amanda Macias
Vice President Pence arrives at inauguration
Vice President Mike Pence has arrived at the Capitol for the inauguration.
Pence skipped Trump's send-off ceremony on Wednesday morning. CNN had earlier reported that Pence was likely to miss Trump's departure from the White House South Lawn due to logistical issues.
The vice president broke with Trump by refusing Trump's request that he try to overturn the November election results at the Jan. 6 congressional session to confirm Joe Biden's victory. Pence decided to attend the inauguration after Trump said he would miss the event, a tradition that typically marks a peaceful transfer of power.
Biden said at the time that he would be honored to have Pence attend.
"I think it's important that as much as we can stick to what have been the historic precedents and circumstances of how an administration changes," Biden said.
-- Tucker Higgins
Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao, who broke with Trump over Capitol riots, arrive at inauguration
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell and former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, both of whom broke with President Donald Trump in the wake of the deadly Capitol riot, have arrived at President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony.
A day earlier, McConnell blamed Trump directly for provoking the Jan. 6 riot that left five dead and forced a joint session of Congress into hiding.
McConnell's chamber is poised to hold a trial on whether to convict Trump following his impeachment in the House last week. McConnell has told colleagues he is undecided about how he will vote in that trial. If Trump is convicted, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has vowed to hold a vote on whether to ban Trump from ever holding office again.
Chao, McConnell's wife, resigned as Trump's Transportation secretary a day after the invasion of the Capitol by Trump's supporters. She was the first member of Trump's Cabinet to quit due to the riot.
"Yesterday, our country experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the President stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed," Chao said in a statement at the time. "As I'm sure is the case with many of you, it has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside."
— Kevin Breuninger
Obama congratulates Biden ahead of inauguration: 'This is your time'
Former President Barack Obama congratulated his former vice president shortly before Joe Biden was to be inaugurated at the nation's 46th president
"Congratulations to my friend, President @JoeBiden!" Obama said in a tweet. "This is your time."
Obama and Biden, who were campaign rivals in 2007, forged a strong rapport during their eight years together in the White House. They weren't shy about their close bond: On Obama's 55th birthday in 2016, Biden tweeted a picture of friendship bracelets strung with the names "Joe" and "Barack."
Obama's tweet Wednesday morning included a 2011 photo of them embracing as they walked out of the Oval Office.
— Kevin Breuninger
Biden transition's top economic advisor says quelling Covid crisis will be first priority
Penny Pritzker, leading economic advisor for President-elect Joe Biden's transition team, told CNBC the new administration will first focus on controlling the Covid crisis.
"It's extremely important that we really get this virus under control so that businesses have greater confidence in their planning and can pick up hiring again, especially for small- and medium-sized businesses, which have really been devastated by the virus," said Pritzker, Commerce secretary under President Barack Obama.
Pritzker outlined key priorities of Biden's economic agenda, including raising the federal minimum wage to $15, passing Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package titled the American Rescue Plan, and making the Covid vaccines more available.
"It's the private sector that creates jobs but it's the government that can help set the conditions for that," Pritzker said.
Pritzker did not answer CNBC's question about the Biden administration's plans to repeal Trump-era tax cuts or to raise taxes, saying Biden's primary concern will be quelling the Covid crisis.
"Right now, 100% of the focus is on 'let's get America healthy and let's get America back to work,'" she said.
Biden attends Mass at Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle
WASHINGTON — Ahead of his inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden and incoming first lady Jill Biden attended Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, along with bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate also attended the service.
Also in attendance were Senate leaders Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat Chuck Schumer, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Biden will become the second Roman Catholic president, 60 years after Democrat John F. Kennedy became the first member of the faith to hold the office.
Throughout his political career, Biden has been proud of his Catholicism.
In September, during a campaign address, Biden told Americans to "be not afraid," evoking a passage of Scripture frequently quoted by Pope John Paul II.
In his victory speech, Biden offered a Catholic hymn that he reflected on after the death of his son Beau Biden. The hymn "On Eagle's Wings" is based on Psalm 91 and for Catholics is often said at funerals.
"In the last days of the campaign, I began thinking about a hymn that means a lot to me and my family, particularly my deceased son, Beau. It captures the faith that sustains me and which I believe sustains America," Biden said at the time.
– Amanda Macias
Trump boards Air Force One for last time, departs for Florida
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump stepped into Air Force One for the last time, turning and waving to a small crowd of supporters on the tarmac of Joint Base Andrews before stepping inside.
The custom Boeing 747-200 series aircraft took off at 9 a.m. Trump, who is not attending Biden's inauguration, is expected to arrive in Florida later Wednesday morning.
— Kevin Breuninger
'We will be back in some form,' Trump says before leaving Washington
President Donald Trump took one last opportunity to tout his record before his one term in office comes to an end, despite leaving behind a raging pandemic, a sputtering economy and deep social divisions.
Trump, after departing the White House for the last time as president, boasted of his accomplishments to a small crowd at Joint Base Andrews before boarding Air Force One and traveling to Florida.
He also suggested he was not finished with politics.
"We will be back in some form," said Trump, who has never directly conceded to Biden and spent weeks challenging his election loss. His efforts to overturn the election came to a climax exactly two weeks earlier, when a mob of his supporters broke into the U.S. Capitol, forcing a joint session of Congress into hiding.
There has been speculation that Trump might run for office again in 2024. However, he faces a Senate impeachment trial for his role in inciting the mob to march on the Capitol. If convicted, the Senate could also vote to disqualify him from holding office in the future.
On the stage at Joint Base Andrews, Trump said of the Biden administration, "I think they'll have great success."
"They have the foundation to do something really spectacular," he said, in spite of the raging coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 400,000 people in the U.S. in the final year of Trump's presidency.
Trump added: "Have a good life, we will see you soon."
With "YMCA" by the Village People blaring over the loudspeakers, he and first lady Melania Trump then left the stage, shook hands with his family members on the tarmac and climbed the stairs into Air Force One.
— Kevin Breuninger
Trump leaves the White House for the last time as president
President Donald Trump departed the White House for the final time.
Trump, wearing a black suit and red tie, emerged from the South Portico onto the White House lawn around 8:15 a.m. and briefly spoke to reporters before walking up to Marine One, the presidential helicopter.
At his side was first lady Melania Trump, clad in all black with large sunglasses, a black handbag and black heels.
In a break with tradition, Trump and the first lady will not attend Biden's inauguration. Rather, he will fly to Joint Base Andrews, where he is expected to deliver a final speech to a crowd of supporters before boarding Air Force One and traveling to his home in Florida.
Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence are scheduled to attend Biden's swearing-in ceremony.
— Kevin Breuninger
Sen. Burr won't be charged in Covid insider trading probe
Sen. Richard Burr will not face criminal insider trading charges after a months-long probe of stock sales that the North Carolina Republican executed after receiving intelligence in early 2020 about the peril of the coronavirus.
Burr's trades last February came a week before stock markets began a head-spinning plunge as investors panicked over the potential economic fallout from Covid-19.
The Department of Justice on Tuesday informed Burr that it was closing its investigation without filing charges.
"I'm glad to hear it," said Burr, who had stepped aside as Senate Intelligence Committee chairman because of the probe. "My focus has been and will continue to be working for the people of North Carolina during this difficult time for our nation."
Members of Congress are legally barred from using nonpublic information that they get as a result of their official positions to personally profit off the stock market.
"I relied solely on public news reports to guide my decision regarding the sale of stocks," Burr said in late March. "Specifically, I closely followed CNBC's daily health and science reporting out of its Asia bureaus at the time." –Dan Mangan
Biden plans to sign 17 executive orders on first day
In his first hours in the Oval Office, the nation's 46th president will sign more than a dozen executive orders to address challenges ranging from the Covid-19 pandemic to the student debt crisis.
The orders signed by Joe Biden will reverse many of those issued by President Donald Trump, including the so-called Muslim travel ban and the construction of a wall along the southern border of the United States.
Atop the list of 17 orders viewed by CNBC was a "100 Days Masking Challenge," which will require masks and physical distancing in all federal buildings, on all federal lands and by federal employees and contractors.
Also included in Biden's health-oriented orders is a reversal of Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the World Health Organization and the Paris climate agreement. –Thomas Franck
Trump pardons dozens on his way out the door
President Donald Trump issued dozens of pardons on his last night in the White House, including one to his former campaign chief and ex-White House advisor, Steve Bannon, who was charged with swindling donors to a supposed effort to build a wall on the border with Mexico.
Trump issued 73 pardons, including for Elliott Broidy, a major Republican fundraiser who pleaded guilty last fall to acting as an unregistered foreign agent, and the rapper Lil Wayne, who pleaded guilty to a weapons charge last month.
Trump did not issue a pardon to himself, or to any of his adult children. There was speculation he would do so despite the lack of any pending federal criminal charges against any of them.
Trump is expected to leave the White House at 8 a.m. ET. Then he will fly to Palm Beach, Florida, the home of his Mar-a-Lago resort.