Editor’s note: This is a live account of inauguration updates from Tuesday, Jan. 19, as the day unfolded. It is no longer being updated.
President-elect Joe Biden arrived in Washington, D.C. Tuesday to kick off two days of in-person and virtual events as he takes the oath of office Wednesday to become the United States’ 46th president.
Here’s a quick guide of what you’ll need to know about Wednesday’s events:
Coverage of the inauguration will begin at 7 a.m. PST on most major television networks including CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, FOX and via President-elect Biden’s inaugural website. Stay tuned throughout the day for updates and live streaming via The Seattle Times as well.
Here’s a quick timeline for tomorrow:
- 8:30 a.m. — Remarks begin on the steps of the Capitol for the official swearing-in ceremony.
- 9 a.m. — Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Kamala D. Harris will be sworn in as president and vice president of the United States, followed by the “pass in review” ceremony.
- 11 a.m. — Coverage will begin for the wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
- Noon — Coverage will begin for the presidential escort from 15th Street to the White House. Every branch of the military will be represented in the escort.
- 5:30 p.m. — Tom Hanks will host the 90-minute “Celebrating America” special event that will feature Biden, Harris and performances by celebrity guests, including John Legend, Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake and more.
During the swearing-in ceremony, Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem, and Jennifer Lopez will perform as by well.
As Washington gears up for the inaugural events, Trump is reportedly preparing to pardon or commute the sentences of more than 100 people in his final hours in office, while Biden has a lengthy to-do list to dig into after inauguration.
We’re updating this page throughout the day with the latest politics, protest and inauguration news from across the U.S. and world.
Trump’s exit: President leaves office with legacy of chaos
WASHINGTON — Donald Trump will walk out of the White House and board Marine One for the last time as president Wednesday morning, leaving behind a legacy of chaos and tumult and a nation bitterly divided.
Four years after standing on stage at his own inauguration and painting a dire picture of “American carnage,” Trump departs the office twice impeached, with millions more out of work and 400,000 dead from the coronavirus. Republicans under his watch lost the presidency and both chambers of Congress. He will be forever remembered for the final major act of his presidency: inciting an insurrection at the Capitol that left five dead, including a Capitol Police officer, and horrified the nation.
Trump will be the first president in modern history to boycott his successor’s inauguration as he continues to stew about his loss and privately maintains the election that President-elect Joe Biden fairly won was stolen from him. Republican officials in several critical states, members of his own administration and a wide swath of judges, including those appointed by Trump, have rejected those arguments.
Still, Trump has refused to participate in any of the symbolic passing-of-the-torch traditions surrounding the peaceful transition of power, including inviting the Bidens over for a get-to-know-you visit.
By the time Biden is sworn in, Trump will already have landed at his private Mar-a-Lago club in West Palm Beach, Florida, to face an uncertain future — but not before giving himself a grand military sendoff, complete with a red carpet, military band and 21-gun salute.
Trump grants clemency to 143 people in last night as president
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Tuesday granted clemency to 143 people, using a final act of presidential power to extend mercy to former White House strategist Steve Bannon, well-connected celebrities and nonviolent drug offenders, but he did not preemptively pardon himself or his family.
Among those who were pardoned or who had their sentences commuted on Trump’s final full day in office were the rapper Lil Wayne and former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, a Democrat who has been serving a 28-year prison on corruption charges.
Trump also granted clemency to Casey Urlacher, brother of former NFL star Brian Urlacher, who pleaded not guilty in March to charges that he helped run an illegal offshore gambling ring.
Trump signed the documents shortly before midnight, after he spent part of Tuesday consumed with indecision over whether to extend clemency to Bannon, who has been charged with defrauding donors to a charity established to fund the building of a wall on the southern border, according to two aides.
Some inside the White House believed Monday that Bannon would not get a pardon, but Trump continued to consider the matter, balancing Bannon’s previous help to him and potential to help him in the future against what he viewed as disloyal behavior at times.
Trump pardons Bannon with hours left to go in presidency
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has pardoned Steve Bannon, the architect of his 2016 campaign who was charged last year with defrauding donors to a private fundraising effort for construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a senior White House official involved in the process.
The pardon for Bannon – who was among those to lead Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 and later was made the White House’s top political strategist – marks the latest example of Trump using his presidential pardon power to end the legal woes of his allies.
Bannon and three others had been charged by federal prosecutors in Manhattan with making fraudulent representations as they solicited donations for a fundraising campaign called “We Build the Wall.” Despite making claims that organizers would take no compensation as part of the campaign, prosecutors said in a 23-page indictment that Bannon received more than $1 million through a nonprofit entity he controlled and sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to another organizer, Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage.
Bannon was known as a provocateur during Trump’s 2016 campaign and during his brief stint in the White House. He came up with such ideas as bringing former president Bill Clinton’s sexual-impropriety accusers to a debate after damaging audio emerged of Trump suggesting he could sexually assault women.
He was ousted as the White House’s chief strategist after seven months because of clashes with other officials, particularly Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law. Since, Bannon has slowly come back into the Trump orbit.
Capitol rioters hold out long-shot hope for a Trump pardon
In what could be the longest of legal long shots, several of those arrested for storming the U.S. Capitol are holding out hope that President Donald Trump will use some of his last hours in office to grant the rioters a full pardon.
Longtime advisers to Trump are urging him against such a move but the rioters contend their argument is compelling: They went to the Capitol to support Trump, and now that they are facing charges carrying up to 20 years in prison, it’s time for Trump to support them.
“I feel like I was basically following my president. I was following what we were called to do. He asked us to fly there. He asked us to be there. So I was doing what he asked us to do,” said Jenna Ryan, a Dallas-area real-estate agent who took a private jet to the Jan. 6 rally and ensuing riot to disrupt the certification of the election of President-elect Joe Biden.
Ryan — who prosecutors say posted a now-deleted video of herself marching to the Capitol with the words, “We are going to f—ing go in here. Life or death” — told Dallas television station KTVT: “I think we all deserve a pardon. I’m facing a prison sentence. I think I do not deserve that.”
The financial minefield awaiting an ex-president Trump
Not long after he strides across the White House grounds Wednesday morning for the last time as president, Donald Trump will step into a financial minefield that appears to be unlike anything he has faced since his earlier brushes with collapse.
The tax records that he has long fought to keep hidden, revealed in a New York Times investigation in September, detailed his financial challenges:
Many of his resorts were losing millions of dollars a year even before the pandemic struck. Hundreds of millions of dollars in loans, which he personally guaranteed, must be repaid within a few years. He has burned through much of his cash and easy-to-sell assets. And a decade-old IRS audit threatens to cost him more than $100 million to resolve.
In his earlier dark moments, Trump was able to rescue businesses he runs with multimillion-dollar infusions from his father or licensing deals borne of his television celebrity. Those lifelines are gone. And his divisive presidency has steadily eroded the mainstream marketability of the brand that is at the heart of his business.
That trend has only accelerated with his evidence-free campaign to subvert the outcome of the presidential election, which culminated in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.
Biden has a Peloton bike. That raises issues at the White House.
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden moves into the White House on Wednesday facing many weighty issues: a global pandemic. A crushing recession. Racial injustice. Right-wing extremism.
But Biden’s personal weight-control and exercise regimen will face a different kind of burning question: Can he bring his Peloton bike with him?
The answer, cybersecurity experts say, is yes. Sort of. But more on that later.
A Peloton, for the uninitiated, is part indoor stationary bike, part social media network. The bikes are expensive — upward of $2,500 apiece — and have tablets attached, enabling riders to livestream or take on-demand classes and communicate with one another.
But the Peloton tablets have built-in cameras and microphones that allow users to see and hear one another if they choose, and for Biden, therein lies the rub. The last thing the CIA wants is the Russians and the Chinese peering or listening into the White House gymnasium.
The article prompted an explosion of chatter in Peloton world, but really, cybersecurity experts say, if Biden wants his bike, he can surely have it, though it might bear little resemblance to the off-the-assembly-line version after the Secret Service and the National Security Agency are finished with it.
EXPLAINER: Can Trump be impeached after leaving office?
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump might argue the calendar is his friend when it comes to a second impeachment trial.
Trump’s impeachment last week by the House of Representatives for his role in inciting the riot at the U.S. Capitol set up his trial in the Senate. But there’s one potential wrinkle.
In 2019, the last time Trump found himself impeached by the House, he had nearly a year left in his presidency. But on Wednesday, with the inauguration of Joe Biden, Trump will be out of office by the time any Senate trial gets started.
Some Republican lawmakers argue it’s not constitutional to hold an impeachment trial for a former president, but that view is far from unanimous. Democrats for their part appear ready to move forward with a trial.
Hawley moves to block swift confirmation for Biden’s homeland security pick
WASHINGTON – In a hearing Tuesday that highlighted Republican opposition to his confirmation, homeland security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas told senators that he would carry out President-elect Joe Biden’s immigration overhaul while intensifying efforts to fight domestic extremism,.
Testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Mayorkas wore a blue mask and listened impassively to questions about his management style and involvement in a visa program for wealthy investors.
Mayorkas, 61, is expected to be confirmed because Democrats picked up two additional Senate seats this month in Georgia. But legislative aides from both major political parties said it is unclear how quickly that will occur.
Democrats are pushing for Mayorkas’s rapid confirmation, saying it is crucial to have top national security officials in place given the recent siege on the U.S. Capitol, cyberattacks on federal agencies, and the coronavirus pandemic.
But Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., the focus of resentment for challenging Biden’s election and, critics say, helping to incite the violent mob who attacked the Capitol, moved later Tuesday to block the fast-track confirmation process, saying he was dissatisfied with Mayorkas’s responses to questions about the Biden immigration agenda.
Biden, Harris, families hold coronavirus vigil
On the eve of President-elect Joe Biden’s official swearing-in, Biden gathered with Vice-President elect Kamala Harris and their families at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to honor the 400,000 Americans who have died due to COVID-19.
"It's hard, sometimes, to remember," Biden said in short remarks, "but that's how we heal."
He added, "Let us shine the lights in the darkness along the sacred pool of reflection to remember all whom we've lost."
As Biden was speaking, 400 tall, rectangular lights lining the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool turned on, illuminating the long reflecting pool in a yellowish hue.
Earlier on Tuesday, the United States surpassed 400,000 deaths due to COVID-19. Every light along the reflecting pool represented 1,000 lives lost.
Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, delivered the invocation. Gospel singer Yolanda Adams performed “Hallelujah,” and Lori Marie Key, a 29-year-old nurse working in a COVID-19 unit in Livonia, Michigan sang “Amazing Grace.”
Vigils were held across the country Tuesday, including an event at Seattle Center, where six community members, including healthcare workers, gathered at the Kobe Bell. In total, the group rang the bell 40 times.
Trump wishes Biden luck without naming him in farewell video
WASHINGTON (AP) — Trying to repair his tarnished legacy, President Donald Trump trumpeted his administration's accomplishments and wished his successor luck in a farewell video as he spent his final full day in office preparing to issue a flurry of pardons in a near-deserted White House, surrounded by an extraordinary security presence outside.
“This week we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous,” Trump said in the video “farewell address,” released by the White House less than 24 hours before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. “We extend our best wishes. And we also want them to have luck — a very important word.”
Trump, who spent months trying to delegitimize Biden’s win with baseless allegations of mass voter fraud, repeatedly refenced the “next administration,” but declined to utter Biden’s name. Many of Trump’s supporters continue to believe the election was stolen from him, even though a long list of judges, Republican state officials and even Trump’s own government have said there is no evidence to support that claim.
Biden’s Bible puts him in line with inaugural tradition
WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will take their oaths of office on Wednesday using Bibles that are laden with personal meaning, writing new chapters in a long-running American tradition — and one that appears nowhere in the law.
The Constitution does not require the use of a specific text for swearing-in ceremonies and specifies only the wording of the president’s oath. That wording does not include the phrase “so help me God,” but every modern president has appended it to their oaths and most have chosen symbolically significant Bibles for their inaugurations.
That includes Biden, who plans to use the same family Bible he has used twice when swearing in as vice president and seven times as senator from Delaware.
The book, several inches thick, and which his late son Beau also used when swearing in as Delaware attorney general, has been a “family heirloom” since 1893 and “every important date is in there,” Biden told late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert last month.
“Why is your Bible bigger than mine? Do you have more Jesus than I do?” quipped Colbert, who like Biden is a practicing Catholic.
Biden’s use of his family Bible underscores the prominent role his faith has played in his personal and professional lives — and will continue to do so as he becomes the second Catholic president in U.S. history.
Biden arrives for inauguration with big plans, big problems
WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden made a sober entrance to the nation’s capital Tuesday, ready to assume power as America reels from the coronavirus pandemic, soaring unemployment and grave concerns about more violence as he prepares to take the oath of office.
Biden, an avid fan of Amtrak, had planned to take a train into Washington ahead of Wednesday’s Inauguration Day, but scratched that plan in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
He instead flew into a military airbase just outside the capital on Tuesday afternoon and then motorcaded into fortress D.C. — a city that’s been flooded by some 25,000 National Guard troops guarding a Capitol, White House and National Mall..
Shortly before Biden departed for Washington, the U.S. reached another grim milestone in the pandemic, s urpassing 400,000 deaths from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.
“These are dark times,” Biden told dozens of supporters in an emotional sendoff in Delaware before departing for Washington. “But there’s always light.”
From Gaga to Garth: Celebs join inaugural events
A slew of celebrities are beginning to descend on Washington, both virtually and in-person, to perform and participate in events celebrating the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President elect Kamala Harris.
Although the festivities have been radically scaled down due to the raging coronavirus pandemic and security threats, a steady stream of A-list names have signed on, headlined by Lady Gaga singing the national anthem on the West Front of the Capitol, with Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks contributing musical performances.
Other top-tier performers will be part of “Celebrating America,” a 90-minute, multi-network evening broadcast hosted by Tom Hanks. Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of "Hamilton," will contribute a classical recitation. He'll be joining a long list of musicians that include Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Demi Lovato, Foo Fighters, Justin Timberlake and Bon Jovi.
Hosts Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria will be joined by basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, chef Jose Andres, labor leader Dolores Huerta and Kim Ng, the first female general manager in MLB history.
The inaugural committee has made sure to blend this high-powered list with ordinary Americans and inspiring stories. Segments will include tributes to a UPS driver, a kindergarten teacher and Sandra Lindsay, the first in New York to receive the COVID-19 vaccine outside a clinical trial. The show will be carried by ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, MSNBC and PBS as well as the committee’s social media channels and streaming partners. Fox News will not carry the broadcast.
Beyond that event, there’s also a virtual “Parade Across America” on inauguration afternoon, hosted by actor Tony Goldwyn with appearances by Jon Stewart, Earth Wind & Fire and the New Radicals — reuniting after more than two decades — among many others.
Here's the schedule of events for inauguration day
On Wednesday, Jan. 20, the 59th inaugural ceremonies will begin broadcasting at 7 a.m. PST on all major television networks as well as president-elect Joe Biden's inaugural website.
The oaths of office: Around 9 a.m. PST, Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Kamala D. Harris will be sworn in as president and vice president of the United States on the western side of the U.S. Capitol. Biden will take the oath of office from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Harris' oath will be administered by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
After the oaths of office, Biden will deliver his inaugural address. Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem and Jennifer Lopez will perform as well.
Pass in review: Following the swearing-in, the new president and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, the vice president and her husband, Doug Emhoff, will participate in a "pass in review" ceremony with members of the military. This is a longstanding tradition that reflects the peaceful transfer of power to a new commander in chief.
Wreath laying: Next, the president and first lady, with the vice president and Emhoff, will visit Arlington National Cemetery for the wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They will be joined by former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, and former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"Parade Across America": After the wreath laying, Biden will receive a presidential escort to the White House. This will be followed by a “Parade Across America,” which will be televised for the American people and feature diverse performances in communities across the country.
Prime-time TV special: The “Celebrating America” prime-time special will kick off at 5:30 p.m. PST. The 90-minute program will be hosted by Tom Hanks and will feature Biden, Harris and several performances.
Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington will introduce segments, ranging from stories of young people making a difference in their communities to musical performances. Foo Fighters, John Legend, Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake, Ant Clemons, and Jon Bon Jovi will perform from locations across the country.
The program will be carried live by ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, and PBS.
Twelve U.S. National Guard members removed from inauguration duties
WASHINGTON (AP) — Twelve U.S. National Guard members have been removed from securing President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration after vetting by the FBI, including two who made extremist statements in posts or texts about the Wednesday event, Pentagon officials said. There were no specific threats to Biden.
Two U.S. officials told The AP that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.”
Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home but he said only two were for inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. The other 10 were for other potential issues that may involve previous criminal activity or activities, but not directly related to the inaugural event.
Seattle joins nationwide vigil for COVID-19 victims
The Presidential Inauguration Committee invited cities around the country, including Seattle, to join president-elect Joe Biden in a national moment of unity on Tuesday to memorialize the American lives lost to COVID-19.
A ceremonial ringing of bells happened at the Seattle Center's Kobe Bell around 2:30 p.m. The bell was given to Seattle in 1962 from Kobe, Japan as a symbol of friendship, according to the city of Seattle's website.
Six local community members who have been directly impacted by this crisis — including healthcare workers and Public Health staff — participated in ringing the bell a total of 40 times, representing the roughly 4,000 lives lost in Washington state and the 400,000 lives lost in the United States.
In Washington, D.C., a lighting around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool took place to honor the more than 400,000 American lives lost to the novel coronavirus.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
• Expect a flurry of action in President-elect Joe Biden's first days, from killing the multibillion-dollar Keystone XL pipeline to proposing major immigration legislation that will include a pathway to citizenship. Here's what else to expect and when. Meanwhile, Washington state residents have their own to-do list for Biden, starting with the coronavirus: "Get the shots out quick."
• Far-right extremists have discussed infiltrating tomorrow's inauguration by posing as National Guard members, according to an FBI intelligence report that details potential threats. Biden arrives in D.C. tonight to kick off two days of in-person and virtual events.
• The Supreme Court's chief justice will be swearing in (perhaps while swearing under his breath?) yet another president who opposed him.
• White House staffers are "sleeping on cots, in stairwells" as they brace for a mad-dash miracle of a presidential move.
• How much did tickets to the first inaugural ball cost? Where were the first presidents sworn in? Inauguration Day holds plenty of intriguing history.
• Another first: Biden's pick for assistant secretary of health will be the first openly transgender federal official if she's confirmed.
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