Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president on Wednesday, kicking off a day of fanfare that stood in stark contrast to a Washington devoid of crowds and on edge amid heightened security after the insurrection at the Capitol.
A star-studded, largely virtual celebration began following Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris' swearing-in at the West Front of the Capitol at a little before noon. Biden placed his hand on a more-than-100-year-old family Bible held by his wife, Jill Biden, to take the oath of office.
Only about 1,000 socially distanced guests, including former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, attended the ceremony. Donald Trump was not present, making him the first president to skip a successor's inauguration since Andrew Johnson.
Lady Gaga sung the national anthem, which was followed by a virtual parade involving all the states and territories. A 90-minute TV special, "Celebrating America," hosted by Tom Hanks, airs Wednesday evening.
This live coverage has ended. For full politics coverage, head to nbcnews.com.
Read the highlights:
— Some QAnon followers lose hope after inauguration.
— Bernie Sanders, Lady Gaga and 'How it's going': Here are the best inauguration memes.
— Viewers' guide to Biden's Inauguration Day: Everything you need to know.
Bernie Sanders, Lady Gaga and 'How it's going': Here are the best inauguration memes
As Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in as president and vice president Wednesday, the internet was at the ready to capitalize on every funny or strange moment in an otherwise serious and storied event.
With attendees abiding by Covid-19 guidelines and social distancing, the images of the inauguration differed from years' past, leading some to pounce on an opportunity to joke about politicians looking cold and alone at the event.
Others teased the appearances and performances of singers Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez.
While most of the memes were meant to be humorous, some used a format popularized in 2020 to create heartfelt memes, showing just how far some at the inauguration had come.
Finally, here's our list of the best inauguration memes.
Pope Francis calls on God to help Biden's efforts at 'reconciliation and peace'
Pope Francis extended his "good wishes" to Joe Biden on his inauguration, and called on God to help the new president heal a polarized nation and world.
"Under your leadership, may the American people continue to draw strength from the lofty political, ethical and religious values that have inspired the nation since its founding," he said in a message issued by the Vatican's press office.
"At a time when the grave crises facing our human family call for farsighted and united responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by a concern for building a society marked by authentic justice and freedom, together with unfailing respect for the rights and dignity of every person, especially the poor, the vulnerable and those who have no voice. I likewise ask God, the source of all wisdom and truth, to guide your efforts to foster understanding, reconciliation and peace within the United States and among the nations of the world in order to advance the universal common good."
Kamala Harris became the first Black, South Asian VP with 'firsts' surrounding her
Kamala Harris, the daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father — both immigrants — broke a nearly two-century barrier in American politics long dominated by white men on Wednesday when she was inaugurated as the nation's first female vice president, as well as the first Black American and first person of South Asian descent.
Her swearing-in was laced with the historic nature of the day.
The oath of office was administered by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina member of the high court. Harris swore on two bibles, one belonging to Regina Shelton, a close family friend, and the other once owned by Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice. Harris often says that Marshall inspired her to become a lawyer.
Harris also wore an outfit designed by Christopher John Rogers and Sergio Hudson, both of whom are Black and from the South, a region pivotal to the Biden-Harris ticket's win. (Rogers is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Hudson is from South Carolina.) Her fashion choice tracks with the value that Harris said her mother instilled in her: “You may be the first to do many things. Make sure you’re not the last.”
All circumstance and less pomp, Joe Biden's Inauguration strikes a somber tone
President Joe Biden was elected on a promise to restore normality, but his presidency began Wednesday with a most unusual swearing in, with most of the pomp stripped away by the necessity of circumstance.
The day did not go as inaugurations of past have happened. The mall did not buzz with exuberant crowds; the streets did not teem with parade spectators; and the city's ballrooms were not adored with sequined gowns.
But it happened, nonetheless, which may be the only thing that matters at a moment when America’s democratic institutions have been tested, almost to the breaking point.
"Democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile,” the new president said after taking the oath on his family’s 127-year-old Bible. “And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”
Controversial Trump appointee overseeing VOA resigns at Biden's request
The Trump appointee overseeing the Voice of America and other U.S.-funded broadcasters resigned on Wednesday at the request of the Biden administration, after a tumultuous tenure marked by accusations he was undermining the networks' editorial independence.
Michael Pack, CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, said his resignation ws effective at 2 p.m. EST, just two hours after Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States, according to an email sent by Pack to staff.
Pack came under fire from both sides of the aisle in Congress, from press freedom groups and from current and former journalists at Voice of America and other outlets over a spate of decisions that critics said were designed to turn the broadcasters into mouthpieces for the Trump administration.
"I serve at the pleasure of not one particular president, but the office of the president itself. The new administration has requested my resignation, and that is why I have tendered it as of 2PM today," Pack wrote to the staff.
Parks and Recreation's Leslie Knope celebrates Biden presidency
Several years ago, former Pawnee, Indiana, City Councilwoman Leslie Knope received congratulations from then-Vice President Joe Biden during an episode of NBC's Parks and Recreation.
Today, the show confirmed she's happy for President Biden too.
Americans mark an unconventional inauguration as Biden ascends to presidency
DETROIT — Six young Black girls sat around a television in suburban Detroit on Wednesday, watching the presidential inauguration. Yes, they’d gotten together to see Joe Biden become president. But there was no mistaking their main focus: Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman, first Black person and first South Asian American to hold the office.
The girls wore matching T-shirts with Harris’ face on the front and “I Could Be Next” on the back. When Harris raised her hand to be sworn in, some of the girls raised theirs as well, as though joining her.
“It was really cool to see a woman instead of a man be sworn in,” Sarah Vaughn, 9, said.
Watching and celebrating the inauguration took on unprecedented challenges on Wednesday, with Americans forced apart by a pandemic and fears of domestic terrorism. But they adapted, turning to Zoom and social media and scaling back in-person parties.
Who is running what without the Cabinet confirmed?
Until Biden’s Cabinet is confirmed, the administration has identified the following acting department and agency heads. Obtained from a senior Biden official:
"Today, President Joe Biden announced the acting agency leadership across the administration to assist in the next phase of the transition of government. These individuals, nearly all of whom are career civil servants, will temporarily lead federal agencies while Cabinet nominees continue moving through the confirmation process.
Central Intelligence Agency, David Cohen
Department of Defense, David Norquist
Department of Energy, David Huizenga
Department of Health and Human Services, Norris Cochran
Department of Homeland Security, David Pekoske
Department of Justice, Monty Wilkinson
Department of Labor, Al Stewart
Department of State, Dan Smith
Department of Treasury, Andy Baukol
Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Lora Shiao
General Services Administration, Katy Kale
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Steve Jurczyk
National Endowment for the Arts, Ann Eilers
National Endowment for the Humanities, Adam Wolfson
Office of Management and Budget, Rob Fairweather
Office of National Drug Control Policy, Regina LaBelle
Office of Personnel Management, Kathy McGettigan
Small Business Administration, Tami Perriello
Social Security Administration, Andrew Saul
U.S. Agency for International Development, Gloria Steele
U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, Dev Jagadesan
U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Rich Mills
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Maria Pagan
Will the Senate confirm any of Biden's nominees on Wednesday?
The short answer is maybe. The Senate will come into session at 4:30 p.m. and immediately see to the swearing-in of Sens.-elect Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossof, both Democrats from Georgia, and Sen-designate Alex Padilla, D-Calif., making the Democrats the majority party (50 senators and a Democratic vice president).
But nothing happens quickly in the Senate without the agreement of all 100 members. Without that consent, each of Biden's Cabinet nominees would require days of consideration, including the approval of the relevant committees. Also gumming up the works is the fact that without a power-sharing agreement between Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his soon-to-be successor in that role, Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and an organizing resolution, Senate committees will still have the same make-up as before Democrats clinched the majority, with more Republican members than Democratic.
Schumer would only tell reporters “we’ll see” when asked whether members would be able to vote on any of Biden’s nominees Wednesday, and Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., just said he thinks they could vote on a least one. Sen Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is blocking the quick consideration of Alejandro Mayorkas to be homeland security secretary, but it’s not clear if objections are holding back any of Biden’s other national security nominees.
FBI: Man who brought assault rifle to D.C. arrested in connect with Capitol riot
The FBI arrested a New York man in connection with the Capitol riot, on Wednesday. According to the criminal complaint, Samuel Fisher of New York City's Upper East Side, who often goes by the online alias "Brad Holiday," posted pictures of guns — including an assault rifle — on Facebook, noting he brought them with him to Washington D.C. before the Jan. 6. riot.
Fisher was charged with disorderly conduct and unlawfully entering restricted grounds. Law enforcement officials said he was taken into custody by the FBI Wednesday morning.
Fisher posted a photograph of an assault rifle and a handgun on Jan. 6, according to the FBI, and told a friend that he was leaving his weapon and rifle in his car at the parking garage in D.C. in case he needed it.
He allegedly told someone on Facebook the day after the riot that he was there, describing it as "awesome," "dangerous" and "violent," adding that “seeing cops literally run . . . was the coolest thing ive ever seen in my life.”
The complaint notes that a person contacted the FBI, telling them about Fisher’s Facebook account and postings that appeared to depict him at the Capitol the day of the riot. According to the FBI, there was enough probable cause to arrest Fisher, based on message from his Facebook accounts saying he was at the riot and an IP address for posts that indicate he made them in or around Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6.
Photos of Biden's inaugural events already up at the White House
The blue door leading from the White House briefing room to the press offices was locked for much of the inaugural proceedings while workers and IT staff cleaned offices and changed out equipment.
Those doors are now unlocked, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki is in her office, where she could be heard conducting a meeting.
Of note, two-foot tall plexiglass barriers now surround a desk that functions as a Secret Service checkpoint leading between the press offices. It appears to be a Covid-19 precaution.
Large photos, known as “jumbos,” now hang on the walls. There are eight photos of the Bidens in gold frames, including a close-up of a teary-eyed Biden at his farewell ceremony in Wilmington on Tuesday; scenic shots of the flags on the National Mall; Biden posing in front of a Delaware National Guard placard; and a shot of Biden and Harris at Tuesday night’s Covid-19 memorial ceremony.
Biden, Harris and former presidents, first ladies participate in ceremony at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
President Biden and Vice President Harris led a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday afternoon.
The ceremony was attended by several former presidents and first ladies including the Obamas, the Bushes and Clintons, all of whom participated in Biden's inaugural ceremony earlier in the day. Former President Jimmy Carter was unable to join the visit and former President Trump left Washington early Wednesday morning for Palm Beach, Florida.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located at Arlington National Cemetery in northern Virginia and is dedicated to deceased military service members whose remains were never identified.
'The Hill We Climb': Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman steals the show
Amanda Gorman, 22, all but stole the show on Inauguration Day as she performed her original poem, "The Hill We Climb," becoming the youngest inaugural poet known in the nation's history.
Gorman spoke with force, poise and clarity outside the U.S. Capitol in front of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, among others.
"We've learned that quiet isn't always peace and the norms and notions of what just is, isn't always justice," she recited. "And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow we do it. Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn't broken but simply unfinished."
Biden’s inaugural team contacted Gorman late last month to perform a poem about unity in the United States, according to The Associated Press. She is now among inaugural poets including Maya Angelou, Robert Frost, Miller Williams, Richard Blanco and Elizabeth Alexander.
'It was about unity': Florida students watch inauguration
A bitterly divided political climate and worries about possible violence led some educators to decide not to show the inauguration in class — at least not live — but Kenneth Bass said he never considered depriving his students of such a crucial historical moment.
Bass, the head of school at Xceed Preparatory Academy's Weston Campus in South Florida, said he's shown every inauguration to his students since George H.W. Bush was sworn in the year after he started teaching.
"The objective is for them to know what the heck is going on, why we're doing this," he said.
He tapped teacher LD Anderson Jr. to lead 15 students in the middle and high school through a discussion of Joe Biden's inaugural address.
"It was about unity," said David Rodriguez, 16, an 11th grader originally from Trinidad. "That was one of the main points of his speech, that America is one country."
Mia Phagan, 14, said she was touched when Biden talked about people dying from Covid-19 and noted that he spoke about bringing people together.
"He said something about making allies that we may have disconnected from and to make friends from our enemies," she said.
Man charged with assault for allegedly pinning officer in Capitol doors
The FBI has arrested Patrick Edward McCaughey of Connecticut and charged him with assaulting a police officer who was trapped between doors at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, which was captured on a now viral video.
McCaughey was arrested at around 7p.m. Tuesday. The Justice Department criminal complaint says McCaughey repeatedly told the officer “just go home” and “come on man, you are going to get squished, just go home” while allegedly using a police shield against the cop.
The officer, Daniel Hodges, later told reporters, “If it wasn’t my job, I would have done that for free. It was absolutely my pleasure to crush a white nationalist insurrection, and we’ll do it as many times as it takes.”
The charging document says McCaughey pinned Hodges’ body between the riot shield and the lower West Terrace door as “a separate rioter begins violently ripping off Officer Hodges’ gas mask, exposing Officer Hodges’ bloodied mouth.”
McCaughey was allegedly seen leaving the Capitol on security cameras after he struck other officers with the shield, the document says. He is charged with assaulting a police officer, civil disorder and unlawful entry.
'We all just got played': Some QAnon followers lose hope
Some QAnon conspiracy theorists, in public and private internet forums and chat rooms, were despondent Wednesday as their prophecy of an Inauguration Day coup to keep Donald Trump in power failed again as President Joe Biden was sworn into office.
The situation left some QAnon adherents with no choice but to write off the conspiracy theory entirely, though others continued to maintain that it was still developing.
QAnon supporters believed Wednesday’s inauguration was an elaborate trap set by the former president, wherein Democrats would be rounded up and executed while Trump retained power. Various other doomsdays theorized by the QAnon community have also come and gone without incident.
But unlike those past days, Biden's inauguration leaves the community with little daylight. As their predictions failed, radicalized QAnon members expressed their betrayal on messaging apps like Telegram and forums named after their failed doomsday scenario, The Great Awakening.
While Biden took the oath, one top post on a QAnon forum read: “I don’t think this is supposed to happen” and wondered, “How long does it take the fed to run up the stairs and arrest him?"
Proud Boys member arrested for Capitol siege
A prominent member of the Proud Boys, Joe Biggs, was arrested Wednesday in Florida, according to federal prosecutors. He'll have a court appearance Thursday.
Court documents say Biggs, a right-wing media personality and Proud Boys member who has organized some of the group's events, is accused of encouraging others to enter and stay in the Capitol during the riot. The charges say he was one of the first to enter the building, through a door that was opened by a small group that got in by breaking a window with a police body shield.
The documents say the man accused of breaking the window wore an earpiece and that "multiple individuals were photographed or depicted on videos with earpieces, including other individuals believed to be associated with the Proud Boys."
Read the full story here.
As Biden is sworn in, reminders of Capitol riots linger
President Joe Biden took the oath of office on Wednesday, surrounded by reminders of this month's deadly riot by far-right mobs seeking to overturn his November victory.
The ceremony went off smoothly, under the watchful eyes of 25,000 National Guard troops deployed in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot that led to five deaths.
Scenes of high fencing, topped with barbed wire, were particularly clear before and after dignitaries came to watch Biden become America's 46th president.
Congressional leaders present Biden, Harris with gifts
Congressional leaders provided gifts to President Biden and Vice President Harris in the Capitol Rotunda, including a painting, photos from their inaugural ceremony and flags that flew outside as they were sworn in.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., presented them with the flags. McConnell addressed Biden as "Mr. President" and and called him and Harris a "son and daughter of the Senate." He also noted that neither served in the House.
McCarthy presented a framed photo from the ceremony and said he is "very proud of you both." McCarthy was among the House Republicans who voted to overturn Biden's victory when Congress counted the electoral votes on Jan. 6. He also noted that Harris made history Wednesday as the first woman to serve as vice president, which he said all of America should celebrate.
Elation and speculation, after Trump's last minute protected status for Venezuelans
Former President Donald Trump’s move to extend protected status to Venezuelans hours before leaving office has generated praise and speculation over the timing of the move.
Venezuelan exiles have been among Trump’s most loyal supporters and are elated over the last-minute move. For years, Republican and Democratic members of Congress lobbied for protected status. Moving to the Deferred Enforced Departure program for Venezuelans stands in sharp contrast to Trump’s hardline immigration policies.
The executive order defers for 18 months the removal of Venezuelans who were at risk of being sent back to their home country. Trump cited the “deteriorative condition” in Venezuela that constitutes a national security threat as the reason for his decision.
Bernie Sanders memes go viral on Twitter
Sen. Bernie Sanders and his environmentally friendly mittens have become memes trending on social media. Here are some of our favorites:
The Trump years cost this Republican friends. Now he hopes for healing.
HOUSTON — Steven Burts showed up at an inauguration watch party in Houston wearing American flag overalls and a smile, ready to celebrate the end of the Trump presidency.
Burts, 42, identified himself as a Republican but said he would never support a man “who spews hate.” That’s a position that’s destroyed Burts’ relationship with some friends and family members who he said “blindly followed Trump’s lies.”
Burts, a salesman in the beer industry, disagrees with much of Biden’s policy proposals, but he’s hopeful that his administration could offer a chance for healing — both nationally and in his personal life.
“I’ll welcome them back when the Kool-Aid finally wears off,” Burts said of his Trump-supporting loved ones. “I don’t know if that will happen. Now it’s at least a fresh start without a person in the office actively trying to divide the nation.”
'Very happy old man': Greta Thunberg trolls Trump on his way out
Teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg trolled Donald Trump as the now-former president left Washington ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration.
Thunberg, the founder of a global youth protest movement, was repeating a version of Trump's own words back at him. After her scathing and emotional 2019 speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit, Trump sarcastically tweeted about Thunberg: "She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!"
Not only has Trump attacked and mocked Thunberg personally, his administration also withdrew the United States from the 2015 Paris climate agreement and reduced environmental protections in the U.S.
Amanda Gorman trades post-inauguration tweets with Lin-Manuel Miranda
"Hamilton" impresario Lin-Manuel Miranda clearly loved Amanda Gorman's electrifying poem:
In response, Gorman — the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history — expressed gratitude and recognized that she had paid homage to the Broadway smash:
In her poem, Gorman paraphrased two lines spoken by the George Washington character in "Hamilton": "Everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree,” and "History has its eyes on us."
The first line is a verse from the Bible — Micah 4:4, to be exact — that appeared in the real-life Washington's writing.
Miranda will make an appearance during a primetime Inauguration Day special called "Celebrating America." Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks will serve as host.
Biden family huddles as Harris looks on
Mitt Romney praises 'very strong' inaugural speech
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, praised Biden's inaugural speech, saying it was "very much needed."
"I thought it was very strong and very much needed. We as a nation come together if we are told the truth and if we have leaders who stand for enduring American principles," he told reporters at the Capitol.
Romney said that whenever there has been disunity or fear or a sense of weakness, people like U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan "have come forward to bring people together."
"I hope this president is able to achieve that, and that we as people throughout our society will rise to the occasion as well," Romney said.
Harris' alma mater Howard University congratulates her
Howard University congratulated alumna Kamala Harris on becoming the vice president.
"It is with tremendous pride that I offer congratulations on behalf of the entire Howard University family to one of our own, Kamala Harris, in honor of her inauguration to become the 49th vice president in the history of the United States," Wayne A. I. Frederick, the university's president, said in a statement, adding, "That a Black woman can rise to hold the second most powerful office in the entire country, especially in the midst of continuing inequality, injustice and intolerance, is a decisive testament to our country’s values and its future trajectory."
The school also noted that Harris used Thurgood Marshall's bible for her swearing-in. Marshall attended law school at Howard before becoming an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court and racial justice champion.
"Throughout her career, she steadfastly adhered to Howard’s principles of truth and service," Frederick said. "Those guideposts have helped so many noteworthy and esteemed Howard alumni make a difference in our world, and they certainly served as critical footholds for Harris on her journey to the White House."
Photo: Celebrations at Black Lives Matter Plaza
A Detroit mom's 'I could be next' party aims to inspire young Black girls
DETROIT — When Kamala Harris raised her hand to be sworn in as the nation's first Black, first woman and first South Asian American vice president, some of the girls wearing pearls in Alison Vaughn's suburban Detroit living room raised their hands as well, as though joining Harris in the oath.
"It felt good to have something different instead of a white man," said Wendelaya Anthony, 9, one of six Black girls at the "I could be next party" Vaughn threw for her daughter, Sarah, and her friends.
The girls ate ice cream and french fries — favorite foods of Joe Biden and Harris — and wore T-shirts with Harris' face on the front and the words "I could be next" on the back.
"When she got sworn in, I was kind of relieved that it wasn't the same thing anymore," said Joslyn Hunter, 11. "I do feel like maybe I could be the first one to do something because she was the first."
Vaughn, the CEO of a Detroit workforce development organization called Jackets for Jobs, is a member of the same sorority as Harris and included a picture of a young, pigtailed Harris on her party invitation.
"At one point, being president or vice president for a Black person was just totally unheard of. Now my daughter can see that 'I can do this. I can be next,'" she said.
On Fox News, Chris Wallace and Karl Rove offer praise for Biden's speech
Biden's speech went over well with some of Fox News' biggest names.
Chris Wallace, anchor of "Fox News Sunday," called it "the best inaugural speech I ever heard," recalling John F. Kennedy's "ask not what your country can do for you" speech.
Karl Rove, a political contributor to Fox News, said: "For the moment, this was a great speech."
The speech wasn't as well received on far-right cable channels One America News Network and Newsmax, both of which have remained fiercely loyal to Trump. One Newsmax anchor called the speech "dark" and "divisive."
Americans celebrate inauguration at home with patriotic-themed food and games
Kristen Azari is celebrating the inauguration for the first time with her husband and two teenage daughters in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Azari, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, shared pictures of her decorations and themed games on Twitter.
“I feel like today is a day that needs to be celebrated, and I’m ready for America to feel normal again,” Azari told NBC News. “My girls are at school virtually and they have been popping out between breaks to watch the swearing-in, and I had to explain why I was crying to my youngest… I’m so emotional finally seeing a woman as our vice president.”
Meanwhile, in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, Adriane Emig shared a photo on Instagram of her two children — Laurel, 2, and August, 6 — sitting in front of U.S. flags and cut-out pictures of Biden and Harris.
Julián Castro finally gets the chance to say, 'Adiós, Trump'
Back in the primaries, presidential candidate Julián Castro told America that on Jan. 20, 2021, at 12:01 p.m., the country would have a Democratic president, House and Senate. Today, he gets the chance to say he was right.
His words from the June 2019 primary debate were replaying on social media as Biden took the oath of office, making Castro look like something of a visionary.
Castro also envisioned a sendoff in which Biden would usher out former President Trump, and as Marine One took off Americans would say, "Adiós, Trump." It didn't quite happen that way. Trump left the White House without welcoming Biden and first lady Jill Biden and did not attend the inauguration.
But Castro and others who had purchased his campaign shirts with the farewell in Spanish donned their shirts and posted selfies of themselves on Twitter.
Bipartisan lawmakers congratulate Biden and Harris
Lawmakers congratulated President Biden and Vice President Harris after they were sworn in.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., tweeted, "Congratulations to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Now we must get to work to solve the challenges facing our country. We are all Americans, and together we will succeed, as we have for more than 230 years."
McCarthy was among the most prominent Republicans to contest the congressional tally of Biden's win.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., tweeted, "America has a president again. Let's get to work!"
Sen. Tom Carper, a Democrat representing Biden's home state of Delaware, tweeted, "It’s a new day in America. With President @JoeBiden and Vice President @KamalaHarris at the helm, help, and hope is on the way for American families.
Trump, arriving in Palm Beach, waves to supporters
Former President Donald Trump was seen waving at supporters gathered along Southern Boulevard as his motorcade arrived at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida.
Biden, in first tweet as president, says he's going to Oval Office 'to get right to work'
Garth Brooks sings 'Amazing Grace'
Country music star Garth Brooks performed "Amazing Grace" at the inaugural ceremony, where Joe Biden was sworn-in as the 46th president of the United States and Kamala Harris was sworn in as the first woman, as well as first Black and South Asian American vice president.
Brooks asked the audience to join him for the last verse, asking it of "not just the people here, but the people at home, at work, as one, united."
Earlier this week, Brooks said during a press conference, “This is a great day in our household.”
“This is not a political statement, this is a statement of unity." he said. "This is history, and it is an honor to get to serve."
Brooks performed along with Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez during the inaugural ceremony.
Clinton offers congratulations and prayers: Inauguration 'affirmed our democracy'
'It opens the door': Jackson State University students celebrate inauguration
JACKSON, Miss. — Jackson State University junior Tiranda Plummer watched President Joe Biden's inauguration in between virtual classes.
Plummer, a biology pre-med major at the historically Black university, is a member of the university's marching band, which performed on Tuesday at the virtual "We Are One" inaugural event.
"This is a moment I'll never forget," Plummer said. "A moment I can tell my kids, my grandchildren about."
Justin Standifer, a fellow junior, said it was "surreal" to see Vice President Kamala Harris, an alumna of Howard University, another historically black school, take office.
“It opens the door for more graduates of historically Black colleges to serve,” he said. “Let’s start a trend. Maybe the next one can be the president."
Los Angeles Public Library touts inaugural poet
Trump administration's 1776 Report page is down
The Biden administration is not wasting time.
Minutes after Biden was sworn in, the web page for the 1776 Report — a paper from conservative political operatives and academics and released by the Trump administration that sought to paint a rosier picture of America's history around slavery and racism — has been taken down.
At Texas restaurant, hopes for recovery and unity
HOUSTON — A small group of people gathered to watch the inauguration at Star Sailor HTX, a craft-beer bar and restaurant that was forged out of the challenges confronting the new administration.
Like millions of other Americans, Marin Slanina lost her job managing a taproom last spring as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered businesses. Then she made the bold decision to open her own restaurant in the midst of pandemic.
It’s been a challenge, she said, but she’s hopeful that the new administration will be able to get the pandemic under control in 2021 and clear a path for businesses like hers to thrive.
As Biden spoke about the need to move past the “uncivil war” dividing America, Slanina said she hoped Star Sailor would become a space where that becomes a reality.
“Once you walk through that door, we want to make sure that this is a safe space,” Slanina said. “It’s a small space, so people have to check their bull---- at the door and find a way to get along. That’s the only way we’re going to get through this.”
Biden stresses his goal to unite America and end this 'uncivil war'
In his first remarks as president, Joe Biden stressed that the nation must come together, and he will aim to achieve that as the 46th commander in chief.
"Democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile, and at this hour my friends, democracy has prevailed," Biden said on the West Front of the Capitol just after he was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts.
Biden said the U.S. has rarely faced more challenges in its history than exist right now, with a pandemic that has left more than 400,000 people dead across the country and millions of jobs lost and thousands of businesses closed.
"The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer," Biden said. "To overcome these challenges to restore the soul and secure the future America requires so much more than words, it requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy — unity, unity."
Biden said his "whole soul is in it" to unite America, later saying that the forces that divide people are "deep and they are real."
"We can see each other not as adversaries, but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature," he said.
Biden pledged to be a president for all Americans and to end the current "uncivil war" that "pits red against blue."
"To all those who did not support us, let me say this, hear me out ... As we move forward, take a measure of me and my heart. If you still disagree, so be it. That's democracy. That's America. The right to dissent peaceably in the guardrails of our republic is perhaps this nation's greatest strength."
Meet Amanda Gorman, 22, the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history
Amanda Gorman, 22, on Wednesday became the youngest poet to perform at a presidential inauguration. Her name will now be known forever among inaugural poets including Maya Angelou, Robert Frost, Miller Williams, Richard Blanco, and Elizabeth Alexander.
President Biden’s inaugural team contacted Gorman late last month to perform a poem about unity in the U.S., according to the Associated Press. She performed “The Hill We Climb,” a poem she said she struggled to write until the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6 gave her just the push she needed.
“We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace … We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy,” the poem reads.
Ahead of the performance, Gorman told the New York Times that she wants the poem to inspire hope, without ignoring the country’s history of racism and violence.
“In my poem, I’m not going to in any way gloss over what we’ve seen over the past few weeks and, dare I say, the past few years,” Gorman said. “But what I really aspire to do in the poem is to be able to use my words to envision a way in which our country can still come together and can still heal. It’s doing that in a way that is not erasing or neglecting the harsh truths I think America needs to reconcile with.”
Gorman has had much success as a poet. She became the nation’s first Youth Poet Laureate at 19 while a sophomore at Harvard University.
White House tweets unity message minutes after Biden assumes presidency
Booker: 'I can feel our ancestors rejoicing today'
It's Twitter official
Twitter has completed its transfer of power.
The @POTUS handle has changed over to President Joe Biden, along with the other official government Twitter accounts.
JLo delivers a bilingual performance of "This Land Is Your Land"
The actress and pop superstar Jennifer Lopez delivered a rendition of "This Land Is Your Land" and “America The Beautiful” shortly after Harris was sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court justice.
Lopez, one of the nation's most influential Latina artists, made a reference to her smash hit "Let's Get Loud" during her performance and shared a message in Spanish about "libertad y justicia para todos" — liberty and justice for all.
In key Michigan county, Democrats toast Biden's arrival
DETROIT — In the minutes leading up to Joe Biden's swearing in, Democrats from Michigan's Oakland County toasted the moment together.
"This is a day of celebration, a day when we pat ourselves on the back," County Executive Dave Coulter told several dozen Democrats gathered on Zoom, adding that everyone on the call had "done something over the course of the last four years to help get us where we are."
Oakland County, just north of Detroit, played a key role in helping Biden reclaim Michigan for the Democrats in November. County voters narrowly backed Hillary Clinton in 2016 but came out in much higher numbers for Biden, giving him 100,000 more votes than Clinton.
"Today we turn a new page," Coulter said, inviting the group to stay after the inaugural address to dance along with a local band that was scheduled to play.
As Biden took the oath of office, members of the group applauded, smiling.
View from the Mall: National Guard members salute as Lady Gaga sings national anthem
Covid-19 death toll tops 403,596 as Joe Biden takes office
President Joe Biden took the oath of office Wednesday, leading a nation where more than 403,596 people have died from Covid-19.
When Biden said "so help me God" at 11:48 a.m., at least 24.39 million had been sickened by the deadly virus since the pandemic reached the U.S. shores a year ago, according to a rolling count by NBC News.
Biden last week announced his proposals for a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package.
Biden sworn in as the 46th president of the United States
Biden was just sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts at 11:48 a.m. ET. He will officially become president at noon ET.
Lady Gaga performs the national anthem
Oscar- and Grammy-winning singer Lady Gaga performed the national anthem just after 11:30 a.m., adorned with a large gold brooch of a bird.
Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, used a gold-colored microphone and earpiece during the performance.
The "A Star Is Born" actress performed the anthem at the 2016 Super Bowl while wearing a red suit.
Gaga campaigned for Biden and worked with him on issues around sexual assault and violence.
Kamala Harris is sworn in as vice president, first women ever to hold the office
Kamala Harris was sworn in as vice president of the United States at 11:42 a.m. ET by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Harris is the first woman ever to serve as vice president.
Minutes before inauguration, Trump adds one last pardon
With less than an hour to go before Biden is sworn in, President Trump granted a full pardon to Albert J. Pirro Jr.
Pirro, the ex-husband of Fox News host and Trump ally Jeanine Pirro, was convicted on conspiracy and tax evasion charges in 2000.
Americans mark an unconventional inauguration
Forced by a pandemic and fears of domestic terrorism to remain apart, Americans found new ways to celebrate the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, turning to Zoom and social media and scaling back in-person parties.
Worries about possible violence led some educators to decide not to show the inauguration in class Wednesday — at least not live. But Kenneth Bass, the head of school at Xceed Preparatory Academy's Weston Campus in South Florida, said it was important for students to see the speeches.
"Emotions are very high," Bass said. "We've never had a more polarized country in my lifetime."
Photo: Barack Obama and Kamala Harris bump fists
People across U.S. made over 2,000 pieces of Indian art to welcome Harris
Shanthi Chandrasekar, a Maryland-based multimedia artist, took the more than 2,000 pieces of decorated cardboard sent to her by people across the country to create a welcome mat of sorts for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in honor of her south Asian heritage.
Using the citizen artwork, Chandrasekar created a composite kolam, a traditional South Indian art form featuring geometric designs often found on doorsteps to welcome guests. She started the project, known as Inauguration Kolam 2021, in December by soliciting contributions on social media, in schools and by word of mouth within the Indian America community.
The artwork was supposed to be displayed at the U.S. Capitol for four days leading up to the inauguration, but the display has been postponed because of security issues. The project has been featured in a virtual welcome video by the Presidential Inauguration Committee, with hopes that the volunteers will be able to physically assemble the design later.
With ceremony underway, quiet on the National Mall
The National Mall, typically filled with throngs of supporters during an inauguration, was almost entirely silent as Biden's inaugural ceremony got underway except for the sound of generators, golf carts and the occasional gust of wind.
The thousands of miniature flags were waving in the quiet, and only other members of the media and law enforcement were present. There was no sign of any protesters or demonstrations here, and the security perimeter stretches far beyond the Capitol steps and the Mall.
Skies are gray, and just after 11 a.m. some snow began to fall.
Snow begins to fall on inaugural attendees
As Biden walked out the Capitol steps, light snow began to fall on the West Front of the Capitol.
Blankets were left out on the seats for the family members and many started to bundle up.
Keke Palmer joins Jill Biden in first inaugural livestream for kids
The actress Keke Palmer served as host for the first presidential inauguration livestream designed to get families and children involved in the historic event.
“Today is a celebration of democracy and a reminder that, in America, we the people get to pick our leaders together. But when the ceremony ends, that’s really just the beginning,” Palmer said during the event. “We’ve got lots of work to do as a country. We’ve got to take on a pandemic, climate change, and racial inequality. We’ve got to build a country where good jobs and opportunities are available to everyone. Those are big challenges and today is a reminder that we can overcome those challenges if we work together.”
The event, titled “Our White House: An Inaugural Celebration for Young Americans” launched at 10 a.m. ET, with a message from Jill Biden, who is a teacher.
Palmer has spent recent years cementing herself as a social media favorite, with viral moments and comedic content. Over the summer, the entertainer made headlines when she urged National Guard members to march with protesters during demonstrations across the country regarding police violence.
Biden to use family Bible that dates back to 1893
President-elect Joe Biden will be 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.
It was also used each time he was sworn-in as a U.S. senator. It is five inches thick with a Celtic cross on the cover.
The president-elect’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.
Bernie Sanders attends inauguration in environmentally friendly gloves
Bernie Sanders has drawn attention from social media for wearing environmentally friendly mittens to the inauguration.
Jen Ellis, a teacher from Vermont, told local media she made the mittens from repurposed wool sweaters.
Ellis gave Sanders the mittens a few years ago. He wore them on the presidential campaign trail.
6 Supreme Court justices are in attendance
Six of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices are at the inaugural ceremony. Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito — the three oldest justices — elected not to attend because of the pandemic.
Hero officer Eugene Goodman escorts Harris to inauguration
Eugene Goodman, the Capitol police officer who intervened to prevent a mob from entering the Senate chamber during the riots earlier this month, escorted Vice President-elect Kamala Harris for her inauguration.
He drew widespread praise over a video that showed him purposefully baiting a mob in the opposite direction of the Senate chamber doors, beyond which lawmakers were still hiding. Five people were killed in the riots, including another police officer.
Goodman is an Army veteran who served in Iraq before joining the Capitol police. He was introduced at the inaugural ceremony as the new acting deputy House sergeant at arms, a significant promotion.
A group of bipartisan lawmakers introduced a bill to award Goodman with the highest civilian award it can bestow, the Congressional Gold Medal.
Pence left a note for Harris
Vice President Mike Pence, who is attending the inaugural ceremony, left a note for Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, a White House official said. As for the note Trump left for Biden before departing to Florida, that was placed in the Oval Office by an aide, a separate White House official said.
Supreme Court receives bomb threat, building and grounds checked
The Supreme Court received a bomb threat Wednesday, according to a public information officer for the Court.
The building and grounds were checked out, and the building was not evacuated, the spokesperson told NBC News shortly before 11 a.m., about an hour before Biden is set to be sworn in as president.
GOP objectors attend Biden inauguration
Amid the backdrop of a heavy military presence prompted by the attack on the Capitol two weeks ago, several GOP lawmakers who voted to object to the certification of Biden's win were seen in attendance at the inauguration.
They include GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama and Roger Marshall of Kansas. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., were also seen in attendance.
'After four long years, Europe has a friend in the White House': EU Commission president
The European Union's top politician has welcomed President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, saying that "after four long years, Europe has a friend in the White House."
"This time-honored ceremony on the steps of the U.S. Capitol will be a demonstration of the resilience of American democracy. And resounding proof that, once again, after four long years, Europe has a friend in the White House," the President of the E.U. Commission on Biden Ursula von der Leyen said in a speech in Brussels.
While international congratulations and well-wishes are common during inaugurations, Von der Leyen's comments reflected the alarm that many in Europe felt during the presidency of Donald Trump, who broke with longstanding norms, and criticized and rebuffed longstanding allies. This alarm turned into horror as the insurrectionist mob encouraged by Trump overtook the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Von der Leyen was joined by other European leaders in welcoming Biden before he had officially become president, and signaling the hopes for a radical change in the White House.
Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio welcomed a "new beginning," while Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez referred to the political forces that had propelled Trump during his welcome to Biden.
"Biden's victory represents the victory of democracy over the far-right," he said. "Some years ago some may have thought Trump was a bad joke, but now, five years later, we have realized he has put at risk nothing less and nothing more than the most powerful democracy in the world."
Kamala Harris wears Black designers on Inauguration Day
Harris is paying tribute to her history-making moment this week by donning clothing from Black designers.
On the eve of the historic inauguration, Harris sported a camel coat from Pyer Moss, a label by Black designer Kerby Jean-Raymond. Jean-Raymond is known for combatting African American erasure in fashion, providing PPE for hospital workers, and providing grants for small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, Harris will wear clothing from Sergio Hudson and Christopher John Rogers along with her signature pearls during the day's activities. Rogers is a New York-based designer from Baton Rouge and Hudson is from South Carolina. Hudson also famously dressed Michelle Obama.
Harris’ style choices will likely please fashion observers who have said that they hope she will make a statement through her clothing.
“I think that it’s an attempt to unify America, not unlike the way Michelle Obama did where she worked to champion American designers and brands,” Kimberly Jenkins, fashion and race historian, told NBC's Today Show. “I think she’ll want to celebrate the abundance of diverse talent that needs support. The United States is a tapestry of cultures and heritage, and I think she will want to celebrate that.”
Rep. Deb Haaland, first Native American to lead the Dept. of the Interior, is ready to work
Kamala Harris' sorority celebrates her becoming VP
The Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority is celebrating Kamala Harris becoming the vice president by declaring inauguration day Kamala Harris Day.
The AKAs are the oldest Black sorority in the country founded in 1908. Harris crossed at the Alpha chapter at Howard University in the spring of 1986. The Alpha chapter is the first of over 1,000 chapters across the country.
Harris' sorority sisters are using #KamalaHarrisDay on social media to post what Harris means to them while wearing sorority gear in their signature pink and green colors.
During Harris' campaign as VP and president, her sorority sisters sent in $19.08 donations to show their support.
Rep. Dan Kildee gives this inauguration a thumbs up
How ancestral village of Kamala Harris is celebrating inauguration
THULASENDRAPURAM, India - Residents of the ancestral Indian village of Kamala Harris celebrated her inauguration as U.S. vice president on Wednesday by setting off firecrackers and distributing food.
Thulasendrapuram, a leafy village about 320 km (200 miles) south of the city of Chennai, is where Harris’s maternal grandfather was born more than a century ago.
Calendars featuring the faces of Biden and Harris have been distributed throughout the village by a co-operative.
“A local politician conducted a special prayer and villagers have been distributing sweets and letting off crackers since the morning,” said village shopkeeper G Manikandan.
Photo: Lady Gaga arrives at the Capitol
Photo: This will be Biden's view from the Capitol
Biden, Kamala Harris arrive at Capitol for inaugural ceremony
Biden's lengthy motorcade has arrived at the U.S. Capitol for the inaugural ceremony on the West Front of the Capitol.
Biden, incoming first lady Jill Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff arrived at the East Front of the Capitol around 10:30 a.m. ET ahead of the event set to begin around 11 a.m. ET.
Around noon, Biden is expected to be sworn as president.
S&P hits another record high ahead of Biden inauguration
Wall Street soared Wednesday, ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, with the S&P 500 index hitting an intraday record high.
The rally comes amid a slew of strong corporate earnings, with companies such as consumer giant Procter & Gamble upgrading their outlook for 2021, forecasting a more positive year for the economy.
"Despite some inevitable bumps in the road, traders and corporate America alike are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Chris Larkin, managing director of trading and investing product at E-Trade Financial, told CNBC.
In a virtual Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, Biden's pick for treasury secretary, touted the incoming administration's $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, a comprehensive plan that includes another round of stimulus checks, a $15 federal minimum wage and aid for state and local governments.
"The damage has been sweeping, and as the president-elect said last Thursday, our response must be too," Yellen said. "In the long run, the benefits will far outweigh the costs."
Rubio says he's skipping Biden's inauguration to work on key Biden nominee's confirmation
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Wednesday that he is skipping the inauguration to address any potential hold-ups to the confirmation of Avril Haines, Biden's nomination as director of national intelligence.
It's unclear who might be objecting to the expedited consideration of Haines, whose confirmation hearing took place Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The Senate requires that all 100 senators must agree to bringing a nominee straight to the floor, circumventing a committee vote. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who is set to become majority leader Wednesday afternoon, said Tuesday that the Senate should immediately confirm Haines and other nominees because of the current national security situation in the U.S.
Rubbing — and bumping — elbows at the inauguration
Biden, family and close friends attend pre-inaugural Mass
In addition to the congressional leaders joining Biden at a pre-inaugural Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, the audience was mostly family and close friends, who were all seated socially distanced in every other row, with the middle of every aisle open, a source in attendance said.
It was a full Catholic Mass, including the Eucharist, presided over by the Rev. Kevin O’Brien, a Jesuit priest who is now president of Santa Clara University and became friends with the Bidens during his time at Georgetown. Biden will become the nation's second Roman Catholic president.
O'Brien delivered what this source described as a personal homily marking the historic day. Jill Biden’s sister, Bonny Jacobs, and Sara Biden, the president-elect’s sister-in law, both did readings, and Valerie Biden Owens, his sister, did the universal prayer.
Former presidents arrive
The three former presidents attending the inauguration have all arrived with their spouses: Bill and Hillary Clinton, George and Laura Bush, Barack and Michelle Obama.
Trump is not attending, nor is former President Jimmy Carter. Carter, who at 96 is the oldest living former president, will attend virtually.
Obamas congratulate former VP Biden on becoming president
'Something we can hang our hats on': Mississippi farmer hopes Biden brings opportunities
JACKSON, Miss. — Calvin Head, who leads a historically Black-owned farming cooperative in the Mississippi Delta, hopes to hear a pledge to “create opportunities” for impoverished, rural communities during Joe Biden's inaugural address.
Head said members of his co-op in Mileston, Mississippi, were struggling to recover from 2019 flooding when the pandemic hit. In his view, relief efforts have fallen short: Tedious paperwork deters farmers from applying for aid, and changes to the Department of Agriculture's Farmers to Families Food Box program have resulted in larger out-of-state farms receiving contracts, rather than local growers, he said.
“When the bailout comes, big farmers reap the benefits,” he said. “Small farmers get the crumbs off the table.”
Head wants to see government investments in the Delta that create jobs for unemployed residents and support small farmers.
“We want to hear something we can hang our hats on or be hopeful about,” he said.
Golden State Warriors tweet video congratulating Oakland native Harris
Hillary Clinton celebrates Kamala Harris becoming first woman VP
Trump departs Washington in final hours as president, travels to Florida
"It is my greatest honor and privilege to have been your president," he said to cheers. "I wish the new administration great luck and great success, and I think they'll have great success. They have the foundation to do something really spectacular."
The tone was a shift from previous weeks, in which Trump continued to insist without evidence that he did not lose the election, an insistence that culminated in a mob of his supporters attacking the Capitol in an effort to stop President-elect Joe Biden's election from becoming official.
Breaking with decades of tradition, Trump will not participate in the peaceful transition of power and is skipping the inauguration. He opted for a rally-like setup at the military airfield, complete with large speakers blasting his campaign playlist, American flags, and several hundred gathered supporters.
Full list of Trump's last-minute pardons and commuted sentences
With only hours to go before leaving office, President Trump pardoned 73 people and commuted the sentences of 70 others.
The list, made public early Wednesday morning, included his former chief strategist and longtime ally Steve Bannon as well as his former top fundraiser Elliott Broidy.
Surgeon General Adams says Biden team has asked him to resign
Jerome Adams said Wednesday that he has been asked by the Biden team to step down as surgeon general.
"[It's] been the honor of my life to serve this Nation, and I will do all I can to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve and maintain health," Adams tweeted.
Adams said in a full statement posted on Facebook that he tried to communicate the evolving science behind Covid-19 to the public and provide people with tools to stay safe.
"I wasn’t always right — because no one was, and this virus continues to humble all of us — but I was always sincere in my efforts to speak to everyday Americans, and address the terrible health inequities this virus exposed," Adams said. "I hope in 2021 and beyond, we can focus more on what unites us, and rise above what divides us. Because Americans working together can overcome any obstacle or adversary."
Biden has nominated Dr. Vivek Murthy as surgeon general, a role that he held under President Obama. He must be confirmed by the Senate before serving in the position again.
Biden, Harris inauguration underway amid Covid pandemic and D.C. lockdown
In a ceremony that will keep with tradition while being unlike any other inauguration in U.S. history, Biden will take his oath of office 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 over 400,000 people in the U.S., and worries over another attack just weeks after the deadly violence at the U.S. Capitol.
Those slated to attend the scaled-down ceremony include most members of Congress and the Supreme Court and former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and their spouses, as well as Vice President Mike Pence.
President Donald Trump won't be in attendance, making him the first president to skip his successor's inauguration in more than 150 years. As he left the White House on Wednesday morning, he told reporters that serving as president was "the honor of a lifetime" and claimed that "we've accomplished a lot."
FIRST READ: How Joe Biden met the 2020 moment
Over the last two years, it was easy to see how today’s moment — Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. being sworn in as the nation’s 46th president — wasn’t going to happen.
Biden, the thinking went, was too old. He wasn’t inspirational or exciting enough as a former vice president. He was prone to gaffes. He wasn’t great on the stump. And he often stumbled in debates.
But what Biden achieved was meeting — and understanding — the moment that presented itself during a presidential campaign unlike any other.
Trump in final remarks as president: 'We will be back in some form'
After landing at Joint Base Andrews around 8:30 a.m. ET on Marine One, Trump delivered his final remarks as president and wished the next administration luck without specifically mentioning Biden's name.
"I will tell you that the future of this country has never been better," Trump said. "I wish the new administration great luck and great success. I think they'll have great success. They have the foundation to do something really spectacular. And again, we put it in a position like it's never been before despite the worst plague to hit since I guess you'd say 1917, over 100 years ago."
"Just a goodbye. We love you. We will be back in some form," he said as the Village People's "YMCA" began to play in the background. "Have a good life. We will see you soon."
Trump listed what he considered his administration's accomplishments, such as creating the Space Force, improving services for military veterans, cutting regulations and passing tax cuts.
"I hope they don't raise your taxes," Trump said, delivering the remarks without a teleprompter. "You're going to see some incredible things happening. And remember us when you see these things happening."
"We've accomplished so much together," he said. "I want to thank all of my family and my friends and my staff and so many other people for being here. I want to thank you for your effort, your hard work. People have no idea how hard this family worked, and they worked for, you could have had a much easier life, but they just did a fantastic job."
in brief comments, Melania Trump said being first lady was her "greatest honor."
As they spoke, Air Force One was behind the stage, with a red carpet leading to its steps, and four cannons were in position for a 21-gun salute.
Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere confirmed to NBC News that Trump has left Biden a note, but Deere did not provide details on its contents.
'It's going to be hard': Do Latino voters think Joe Biden can unite the country?
Joe Biden has said that as the 46th president, he will work to unify an increasingly polarized country. But 7 in 10 Americans believe the U.S. will remain politically divided during the next four years, according to NBC News' latest national poll.
Latinos who voted for and against Biden are trying to remain cautiously hopeful as he is sworn in Wednesday.
Reynaldo Decérega, 48, an independent from Virginia who voted for Biden, said it would be difficult for any president, Democratic or Republican, to be a unifier in the current political environment.
He remains optimistic about the future, however, as a new administration steps in. "Legislators might be willing to be bolder with their actions" after recent events and "all the realities that have been exposed," said Decérega, who is Panamanian.
Trump, first lady leave White House for final time on Marine One
President Trump and first lady Melania Trump boarded Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House for the final time.
Before leaving, the president spoke to those gathered and called his term "the honor of a lifetime."
"And I just want to say goodbye," Trump added, "but hopefully it's not a long term goodbye. We'll see each other again."
Their helicopter is now heading to Joint Base Andrews, where Trump is expected to deliver his final remarks as president at a send-off ceremony and then will board Air Force One to travel to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.
Pete Buttigieg says healing nation after last four years won't happen overnight
Pete Buttigieg, Biden's nominee for transportation secretary, said Wednesday that the incoming president and his team "recognizes that unity is hard work."
"It's not about pretending we don't have divisions. It's hard work," said Buttigieg in an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" ahead of Biden's inaugural ceremony.
Buttigieg said that healing the divisions of the last four years, or 30 to 40 years or even the last 400 years are not going to happen overnight.
"But the question is whether we are making progress or whether we are falling back. We've had leadership pulling us back. Now we have leadership that's going to be pulling us forward," he said.
Trump administration trying to sabotage Biden immigration plans with last-minute deals, say officials
Current and former Trump administration officials say the Department of Homeland Security has made a last-minute effort to "sabotage" the incoming administration's efforts to unroll its tough immigration policies by signing legal agreements in recent weeks with state and local authorities that are intended to delay any such changes for 180 days.
Homeland Security has entered into agreements that would require the agency, even under the leadership of the Biden administration, to consult with certain state and local jurisdictions "before taking any action or making any decision that could reduce immigration enforcement, increase the number of illegal aliens in the United States, or increase immigration benefits or eligibility for benefits" for undocumented immigrants.
The states and localities would then have 180 days to provide comment — and the Biden officials would have to consider their input and provide a "detailed written explanation" if they rejected it.
White House a bustle of activity on move-out day for Trumps
The lights in the White House residence are ablaze this morning as move-out day for the Trumps kicks into high gear.
Inside the West Wing, White House residence staff and Secret Service agents appear to be starting the well-choreographed, yet frantic, changeover from one administration to the next. That process is even more taxing this year, since workers won’t have the usual amount of time afforded — given the cancellation of the inaugural luncheon and traditional in-person parade.
Inside the West wing, the door to the Oval Office is wide open, which is almost never the case. Lights are on, and workers are seen inside. As NBC News previously reported, part of Wednesday’s changeover includes a Covid-19 deep-cleaning.
Moving boxes and cartons of disinfecting wipes sit on press staffers’ desks. No notes or letters left for future Biden staffers are visible. The White House press secretary’s office appears to be prepared for the imminent arrival of incoming press secretary Jen Psaki.
Outgoing press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said she — and her baby — signed the inside of a desk drawer, tweeting this photo.
Biden to take immediate steps to undo key Trump initiatives, unveil immigration plan
Joe Biden plans to spend his first hours as president undoing many of the hallmarks of President Donald Trump's tenure and beginning to make his own mark on how the U.S. will respond to its multiple crises.
Biden will sign more than a dozen executive actions Wednesday when he arrives at the White House after having been sworn in as the 46th president, 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.
'No choice but to be hopeful': Biden voters, in their own words, ahead of Inauguration Day
As President-elect Joe Biden prepares to be sworn in under an extraordinary security threat, his supporters are watching with mixed, and often conflicting, emotions.
Interviews with five Biden voters in different states revealed a maelstrom of relief and fury, elation and devastation, delight and exasperation. Many are grappling with reconciling their intense feelings of anger at President Donald Trump and some of his supporters over their roles in the violent riot on Capitol Hill with the joy that their candidate won — and that he is finally on the verge of taking office.
Others are experiencing the events of the last two weeks through a more political lens, struggling to embrace Biden's push for unity while preferring that he undertake deep, structural change on a myriad of issues. Some expressed fear for Biden's life and for the voters of color who supported Biden and whose pivotal votes Trump and his allies have sought to undermine.
All of these voters, first interviewed by NBC News before the Nov. 3 election, cast their ballots for Biden, some for very different reasons. Here's what they're thinking, fearing and feeling now, just ahead of Inauguration Day.
ANALYSIS: Trump leaves office with little to show of his major promises, and a legacy of violent divisiveness
President Donald Trump did not build a wall or end American carnage or finish his term with a robust economy. His slogan was "Make America Great Again," but the lasting image of his term — rioters assaulting the U.S. Capitol and the country's republican form of governance, in his name — was anything but great.
The failed coup — if it was organized enough to call it that — concluded a presidency that often used Orwellian tools of Newspeak and Doublethink to communicate.
For most Americans — even in an era of deep and angry partisan division — the human effects of Trump's actions have been too obvious to ignore despite his use of the bully pulpit to distract from his struggles. More than 400,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the U.S. on his watch — after he said the disease would kill only tens of thousands and then just disappear — and medical experts say quicker and more effective leadership from the White House could have done more to contain the spread of the pandemic.
Like most presidents, Trump promised to unify the country. But he proved unable to work across the aisle in Congress. Aside from emergency spending to counter the catastrophic economic and public health effects of the disease — and the trade deal with Mexico and Canada — his policy achievements were limited to actions he could take without Congress' cooperation. That was particularly true after Democrats took control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections, creating a roadblock for his most extreme proposals.
Pelosi suggests Trump could be an accessory to murder for inciting Capitol attack
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., suggested Tuesday that Trump could be an accessory to murder because of his incitement of the Jan. 6 riot that led to the storming of the Capitol.
"Presidents' words are important, they weigh a ton. And if you're Donald Trump talking to these people, they believe it and they used his words to come here," Pelosi said in an interview with MSNBC's Joy Reid that was recorded Tuesday afternoon and aired at 10 p.m. ET.
Pelosi said that it "remains to be seen" whether any of her congressional colleagues collaborated with the mob.
"We have to get the evidence of that. And if they did, they would be accessory to the crime. And the crime, in some cases, was murder," she said. "And this president is an accessory to that crime because he instigated that insurrection that caused those deaths and this destruction."
A Capitol Police officer and four other people died during the riot that day.
The House impeached Trump last week for his role inciting an insurrection and the Senate will soon hold a trial to determine whether to convict him.
Trump signs last-minute executive order reversing five-year lobbying ban he instituted
Trump early Wednesday reversed an ethics executive order that he signed just days after he took office in January 2017 as part of his pledge to "drain the swamp" in Washington, D.C.
The order from four years ago had banned executive branch employees for five years from lobbying any agency where they had served. It also instituted a lifetime ban on lobbying for a foreign government.
The White House released a new executive order rescinding the old one but didn't say why Trump took the action.
Trump pardons Steve Bannon along with dozens of others in final hours in office
President Donald Trump issued a wave of pardons Tuesday night, using the final hours of his presidency to grant clemency to 143 people, including former top White House aide Steve Bannon, according to a list made public by the White House on Wednesday morning.
Bannon — Trump's former chief strategist in the White House who was in charge of the final months of his 2016 presidential campaign — was indicted in August along with three others on wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy charges.
Prosecutors alleged that Bannon’s crowdfunding “We Build the Wall” campaign took hundreds of thousands of donated dollars and used them for personal expenses. He was brought into custody by U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents while on board the yacht of Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui.
Trump distanced himself from Bannon following the arrest, calling it a “very sad thing” for Bannon and insisted that he was not in favor of private funding for his border wall. The president called the effort “showboating.” “I know nothing about the project, other than I didn’t like, when I read about it, I didn’t like it,” Trump said.
Increasingly militant 'Parler refugees' and anxious QAnon adherents prep for doomsday
Liesa Norris got a panicked phone call Monday from her brother. He told her to buy a ham radio.
The radio, he explained, would be one of the few ways they could communicate once President Donald Trump launched his plans to take permanent power.
"We were dancing around the subject, and then he just brought up that on the 20th, you know, the truth is going to come out," Norris said. "He was just going on and on about how we needed to have ham radios because we're not going to be able to talk on regular phones and everything is going to be dark."
Trump has no such plans. But in the fractured QAnon community, which has turned to a variety of smaller messaging apps and YouTube to keep spreading conspiracy theories, evidence-free reports of a nationwide blackout and impending martial law Wednesday have become a last stand for true believers that Trump will be president after Inauguration Day.
McConnell says impeachment Thursday 'at the earliest'
In a letter to his Republican colleagues sent Monday night, obtained by NBC News and confirmed by a source, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate faces “unprecedented challenges,” pointing to the inauguration, impeachment and an evenly divided Senate.
He indicated that “the first formal steps” for impeachment “should wait until Thursday at the earliest” because of the inauguration.
Pence to return to Indiana on Wednesday
Vice President Mike Pence will return to Indiana on Wednesday, shortly after he becomes the former vice president at noon.
After attending the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, Pence will fly by government plane to Columbus, Indiana, where the state GOP announced in a release that he will “thank friends and longtime supporters.” He will arrive at 2:45 p.m., a source familiar told NBC News.
The soon-to-be former vice president, who tweeted a thank you message on Tuesday, is expected to split his time between Indiana and Washington for the foreseeable future but intends to return to Indiana later this year permanently.