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Goodbye Trump, Hello Biden: America welcomes a new president

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will take their oaths of office Wednesday in an inauguration ceremony unlike any other.
Image: The U.S. Capitol and stage are lit as the sun begins to rise before events get underway before the 59th Presidential Inauguration
The U.S. Capitol and stage are lit as the sun begins to rise before events get underway before the 59th Presidential Inauguration, Jan. 20, 2021.Patrick Semansky / AP

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Today marks the start of a new chapter for America.

President Donald Trump will leave the White House this morning and Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States at noon.

Here is what we're watching this Wednesday in January.

Inauguration Day: Biden and Harris to take office

Joe Biden will take the oath of office today in a ceremony that will keep with tradition while being unlike any other inauguration in U.S. history.

There will be pomp, ceremony, former presidents, congressional leaders, A-list performers, parades and tributes to the troops — but it will all happen before a small, socially distanced audience in a city that has been locked down because of the dual threats of the coronavirus pandemic and possible domestic terrorism after the deadly violence at the U.S. Capitol.

After Biden is sworn in, he plans to spend his first hours as president undoing many of the hallmarks of President Donald Trump's tenure, NBC News' senior White House reporter Shannon Pettypiece writes.

Biden will sign more than a dozen executive actions Wednesday when he arrives at the White House, including measures to rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change, repeal Trump's restrictions on travel from several Muslim-majority countries, stop construction of the Southern border wall and mandate wearing masks on federal property.

He will also use his first day in office to propose a sweeping immigration reform bill, a lofty legislative task his administration has decided to take on from the start.

"We're not going to wait weeks. We're going to come in and hit the ground running," said senior adviser Cedric Richmond, the incoming director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

Here's more of our coverage:

  • Friends and foes alike: The world will be watching as Biden takes over a "humbled" U.S. struggling to contain its crises.
  • "No choice but to be hopeful": Biden voters, in their own words, tell us what they are thinking ahead of Inauguration Day.
  • From Lady Gaga singing the national anthem to Tom Hanks "Celebrating America" in a star-studded event tonight: Here's everything you need to know about today's festivities.
  • Follow our live blog throughout the day for all the latest developments.
  • Watch NBC News, MSNBC and NBC News Now for live coverage all day.

Trump pardons Bannon and dozens of others in final hours of presidency

President Donald Trump issued a wave of pardons Tuesday night, using the final hours of his presidency to grant clemency to 143 people, according to a list made public by the White House early Wednesday morning.

The list included former White House adviser Steve Bannon, major GOP donor Elliott Broidy, rapper Lil Wayne, as well as other politicians and nonviolent drug offenders, but it did not include preemptive pardons for Trump or his family members.

Bannon was charged in August 2020 with defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors who gave money to help build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump, who did not hold any public events in his last week in office, has spent the final days of his presidency fixated on his power to issue pardons, meeting with advisors to hash out who should be on his list.

Trump, his family members and personal lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, were not on the list of pardons released by the White House, although there has been speculation he was considering that.

Trump can make additional pardons up until Biden is sworn in and names are required to be made public.

In his farewell address to the nation Tuesday, Trump attempted to highlight his administration’s successes amid the backdrop of an impending impeachment trial, while also calling on Americans to "pray" for the new administration.

While a conviction in his second impeachment trial could bar him from ever holding public office again, he said in his speech that his "Make America Great Again" movement is "only just beginning."

Trump has made it clear that he will not attend Biden's inauguration, making him the first president to skip his successor's inauguration since Andrew Johnson in 1869.

Since he won't be there, he can't hand Biden the nuclear football, the oddly shaped 45-pound briefcase that is always at the president's side to command and control the country's massive nuclear arsenal. But rest assured, here's how the handoff is expected to happen.

Trump is scheduled to leave the White House on Wednesday morning, taking a final trip on Air Force One down to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

  • News Analysis: Donald Trump promised to end "American carnage" and "Make America Great Again." Four years later, he leaves with those goals far from reach, writes NBC News' senior political analyst Jonathan Allen.
  • Slideshow: The Trump years in pictures

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THINK about it

Social media shutting out conservatives won't cool the anger that fueled Trump, Kelly Jane Torrance writes in an opinion piece.


Even if you're a Dry January dropout, experts say that's OK. It's still a chance to reset and self-monitor your alcohol consumption.


Cannondale, Specialized, VanMoof: Cycling experts explain how to choose the right electric bike for you.

Quote of the day

"Between sundown and dusk, let us shine lights in the darkness along this sacred pool of reflection to remember all who we lost."

President-elect Joe Biden at a memorial to honor Covid-19 victims held at the Lincoln Memorial's reflecting pool on Tuesday evening.

One fun thing

When Biden takes the oath of office at noon today, he will lay his hand on top of his 127-year-old, 5-inch-thick family Bible, held by his wife, Jill Biden.

"Have you been working out?" "Late Show" host Stephen Colbert quipped during an interview last month.

Biden was first seen with the Bible when he was sworn in as a senator in Delaware in 1973 at 30 years old.

The family heirloom has made an appearance at every one of his subsequent swearing-in ceremonies as senator, vice president and today as president.

Image: Vice President Joe Biden is sworn-in as his wife Jill holds the Bible during the 57th Presidential Inauguration ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol
The Bible, which is adorned with a Celtic cross on its cover, has been in Biden's family since 1893 Stan Honda / AFP - Getty Images file

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Thanks, Petra