IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Highlights and analysis: Inaugural events to kick off amid heightened security

Biden and Harris will take part in a ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial on Tuesday to commemorate those who have perished from Covid-19.
Watch live: Full coverage of the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on NBC News NOW.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

Preparations for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration continued Wednesday amid a heavy security presence in Washington, with the areas around the Capitol and downtown streets closed to the public and tens of thousands of National Guard troops mobilized in a massive show of force.

In a major departure from previous inaugurations, most of the events were already planned to take place virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic. In a sign of the anxiety gripping Washington following the riot at the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob earlier this month, the building was briefly on lockdown and its west front, where a rehearsal for Wednesday's inaugural ceremony was taking place, was evacuated Monday after a "small fire" under a nearby bridge prompted an announcement of a security threat.

On Tuesday evening, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will speak at a ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool to commemorate the over 400,000 Americans who have died from Covid-19. A field of flags has been placed on the National Mall, representing those unable to attend the inauguration because of the coronavirus. The inauguration comes as the Senate prepares to try President Donald Trump on one article of impeachment for urging thousands of supporters to march on the Capitol on Jan. 6.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading inauguration news from Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.

Read the highlights:

— Viewers' guide to Biden's Inauguration Day: Everything you need to know.

— Texas man who stormed Capitol accused of threat to shoot children if they turned him in.

— Trump to lift some Covid travel restrictions, a move Biden quickly rejects.

— Four years of capturing Donald Trump.

— By the numbers: A statistical look at Trump's four years in office.

Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla to be sworn into the Senate on Wednesday

Senators-elect Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla will be sworn in Wednesday in the "late afternoon" by incoming Vice President Kamala Harris, according to two sources familiar with the plan. 

Ossoff and Warnock won their Senate runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5 and California Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Padilla to fill Harris' seat, which she resigned from on Monday. 

Once Harris and the three senator are sworn in, the Senate will be divided 50-50, but Democrats will hold the majority because Harris will be able to cast tie-breaking votes as vice president. 

Senate leaders Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., are working on a power-sharing agreement for a 50-50 Senate, according to a source familiar with the process. The deal would determine how the Senate and committees operate in an evenly divided Senate.

The two are expected to talk Tuesday about that as well as Trump's upcoming impeachment trial, confirmation hearings for Biden nominees and coronavirus relief. 

FBI vetting service members ahead of inauguration amid reported fears of insider attack

Defense officials say they are worried about an inside attack or some other threat from service members involved in securing President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, The Associated Press reported.

As a result, the FBI is vetting all service members on hand in the capital to support the inauguration, an Army official told NBC News on Sunday.

"The Army is working with the FBI to vet all service members supporting the Inauguration National Special Security Event," the official said.

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told the AP that officials were conscious of the potential threat, and he warned commanders to be on the lookout for any issues as the inauguration approaches.

Read the story.

The stakes are high for Biden's inaugural address. Here's what to expect.

As President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office facing more crises than any other president in modern American history, the stakes for his inaugural address couldn't be higher.

A transition official said that Biden worked on the speech over the weekend with family members and his senior adviser Mike Donilon and that the address will emphasize familiar themes from his campaign: unity, healing and a vision for the many crises the country faces.

Advisers also said the address will echo some of Biden's recent speeches, which have doubled as opportunities to test inaugural themes. As he unveiled his $1.9 trillion economic package last week, Biden said bipartisanship was essential to addressing the economy and the Covid-19 pandemic: "Unity is not some pie-in-the-sky dream — it's a practical step to getting the things we have to get done as a country get done together," he said.

Read the story.

Census Bureau director to resign amid allegations of pressure to produce immigrant count

Facing criticism over efforts to produce citizenship data to comply with an order from President Donald Trump, U.S. Census Bureau director Steven Dillingham said Monday that he planned to resign with the change in presidential administrations.

Dillingham said in a statement that he would resign on Wednesday, the day Trump leaves the White House and President-elect Joseph Biden takes office.

The Census Bureau director’s plan to resign comes as the statistical agency is in the middle of crunching the numbers for the 2020 census, which will be used to determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets, as well as the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal spending each year.

Last week, Democratic lawmakers called on Dillingham to resign after a watchdog agency said he had set a deadline that pressured statisticians to produce a report on the number of people in the U.S. illegally.

Viewers' guide to Biden's Inauguration Day: Everything you need to know

Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday 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 before a small, socially distanced audience in a city that has been locked down because of the dual threats of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed almost 400,000 people in the U.S., and possible domestic terrorism after the deadly violence at the U.S. Capitol.

One thing there won't be is an argument that Biden will have drawn the biggest crowd in inauguration history — he and officials in Washington, D.C., hope it will be the smallest, with people watching from their couches instead of the National Mall.

The day's events will be far more star-studded than Donald Trump's inauguration, which was headlined by country singers Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood. Among those participating Wednesday are pop superstars Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, rock icon Bruce Springsteen and country superstar Garth Brooks.

Here's what to expect on Inauguration Day — and night.

Latinos in the Biden administration shoulder high expectations, urgency to undo Trump policies

Obama White House veterans Julie Chávez Rodriguez and Adrian Saenz are heading back to Pennsylvania Avenue this week with a sense of urgency and a feeling of starting from scratch.

President-elect Joe Biden, who is to take the oath of office Wednesday, made Chávez Rodríguez his director of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations, while Saenz will be deputy director of the Office of Public Engagement.

Chávez Rodríguez, Saenz and other Latinos in the Biden administration will be shouldering some high expectations from a nation on edge after the riot on the U.S. Capitol and President Donald Trump's second impeachment — during a pandemic and the economic fallout that has robbed people of work and paychecks.

"It's not going to be easy. I don't go into any of this with rose-colored glasses," said Chávez Rodríguez, the granddaughter of the civil rights icon and labor leader César Chavez.

Read the story.

Gary Gensler, Biden's pick to head SEC, has reputation as tough regulator

In nominating Gary Gensler to serve as chairman for the Securities and Exchange Commission, President-elect Joe Biden is likely to please progressives, who have been agitating for more bank oversight after four years of deregulatory policy under President Donald Trump’s SEC pick, Jay Clayton, who stepped down in December.

“Gensler is a terrific choice to head the agency," said Barbara Roper, director of investor protection at the Consumer Federation of America. "He’s as knowledgeable about the markets as anyone on Wall Street, so he can’t be intimidated. He’s a seasoned regulator who knows how to get things done.”

Gensler spent 18 years at Goldman Sachs before joining the Treasury Department during the Clinton administration. Following a stint at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission — where he earned a reputation as a tough regulator — he served as an economic adviser for Hillary Clinton’s 2012 and 2016 presidential bids, and since the 2020 election, he has led the Biden transition team’s financial regulatory group.

At the CFTC, “Gary proved he was relentless and effective at adopting and implementing difficult rules. He worked very quickly, very thoughtfully, very aggressively,” said Tyler Gellasch, executive director of investor advocacy group Healthy Markets.

Read the story.

Avril Haines, Biden's pick for top spy, to tell Senate she'll keep politics out of intelligence analysis

Joe Biden's nominee to lead America's vast spying bureaucracy is expected to tell senators weighing her confirmation that she will protect whistleblowers, speak truth to power and keep politics out of intelligence analysis, according to excerpts of her prepared statement obtained by NBC News.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday to consider the nomination of Avril Haines, who was a national security official during the Obama administration, to become director of national intelligence. She would oversee 18 intelligence agencies, including the CIA and the National Security Agency.

Haines, who was deputy CIA director and deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration, will also tell lawmakers that she intends to prioritize countering China, bolstering cyber defenses and anticipating the next pandemic, according to the prepared remarks.

Read the story.