The Latest: Fireworks light up sky to celebrate inauguration
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration (all times local):
Fireworks lit up the sky behind the Washington Monument to mark the end of Inauguration Day for President Joe Biden.
Biden and first lady Jill Biden watched the end of the day’s events from a balcony in the White House on Wednesday night. The Bidens’ grandchildren danced and clapped on the balcony.
While the coronavirus pandemic and security concerns in Washington vastly scaled back inaugural events, organizers created a celebratory atmosphere with live and recorded celebrity performances, ending with singer Katy Perry.
Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, watched the fireworks from the steps of the Washington Monument after Harris delivered brief remarks.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT JOE BIDEN’S INAUGURATION AS THE 46TH U.S. PRESIDENT:
Joe Biden took the oath of office at noon Wednesday to become the 46th president of the United States. He takes charge in a deeply divided nation, inheriting a confluence of crises arguably greater than any faced by his predecessors.
— Biden takes the helm as president: ‘Democracy has prevailed’
— Biden’s first act: Orders on pandemic, climate, immigration
— Biden charts new US direction, promises many Trump reversals
— Vice President Harris: A new chapter opens in US politics
— Analysis: For Biden, chance to turn crisis into opportunity
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:
Three former presidents are celebrating the transition of power that saw Democrat Joe Biden enter the White House.
In a pretaped video that aired during Biden’s inaugural television special Wednesday night, Republican George W. Bush, along with Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, wished Biden luck.
Obama said, “Inaugurations celebrate a tradition of a peaceful transfer of power that is over two centuries old.” But the mere fact that all three felt compelled to come together to address the issue speaks to the fraught moment the country faces.
President Donald Trump repeatedly and falsely insisted for months that the November election was stolen from him, and he whipped up a violent crowd of supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol two weeks ago seeking to overturn the certification of Biden win. He also snubbed his successor’s inauguration.
In the video, Clinton urged Americans to get off their “high horses” and reach out to friends and neighbors with whom they may have differences. Bush said he wanted Biden to be successful because his “success is our country’s success.”
Kamala Harris talked about the power of “American aspiration” in her first speech to the nation as vice president.
With the Washington Monument lit up behind her Wednesday night, Harris called on Americans to remember “we are undaunted in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up.”
She also cast her ascension as the first female vice president as a demonstration of the nation’s character.
Borrowing a line she frequently used on the campaign trail, she said, “We not only see what has been — we see what can be.”
Harris gave a nod to American scientists, parents and teachers who are persevering through the coronavirus pandemic and encouraged people to “see beyond crises.” She spoke during President Joe Biden’s “Celebrating America” event to mark the inauguration.
Bruce Springsteen sang “Land of Hope and Dreams” as he stood alone with his guitar in front of the Lincoln Memorial to open “Celebrating America,” a broadcast special to honor the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
Springsteen said, “Good evening, America,” to open the 90-minute special airing across several networks on Wednesday night in place of the usual official inaugural balls.
Performing the 1999 song of solace, Springsteen sang, “I will provide for you, and I’ll stand by your side. You’ll need a good companion, for this part of the ride.”
Host Tom Hanks, also at the Lincoln Memorial, introduced the show by saying, “In the last few weeks, in the last few years, we’ve witnessed deep divisions and a troubling rancor in our land. But tonight we ponder the United States of America.”
Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria are co-hosting the show, which will also include performances from John Legend, Katy Perry, Demi Lovato, the Foo Fighters, Justin Timberlake and Jon Bon Jovi.
Kamala Harris might be vice president, but she doesn’t get to enjoy all of the vice presidential perks just yet.
Harris won’t immediately move into the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. A Harris aide says the delay will allow time for repairs to the home. The house needs its chimney liners replaced, among other fixes, and it’s easier to finish the work with the home unoccupied.
The former California senator has a home in downtown D.C. where she typically stayed while in town for work, but it’s unclear if she’ll remain there while waiting for the repairs to be completed.
Every vice president since Walter Mondale has lived at the Naval Observatory, and it’s been the site of visits from foreign dignitaries, events and gatherings hosted by vice presidents past.
A group of protesters carrying anti-President Joe Biden and anti-police signs is marching in Portland and damaged the headquarters of the Democratic Party of Oregon.
Police say the group smashed windows and spray-painted anarchist symbols at the political party building on Wednesday. It was one of at least four groups planning to gather in the city on Inauguration Day.
Police say officers on bicycles entered the crowd to contact someone with a weapon and to remove poles affixed to a banner that they thought could be used as a weapon. Police say the crowd swarmed the officers and threw objects at them.
Portland has been the site of frequent protests since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. Over the summer, there were demonstrations for more than 100 straight days.
Mayor Ted Wheeler recently decried what he described as a segment of violent agitators who detract from the message of police accountability and who should be subject to more severe punishment.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki says President Joe Biden will allow Congress to decide the way forward on the impeachment trial of his predecessor, Donald Trump.
Psaki said Wednesday in the first press briefing of the Biden administration that the president believes members of the Senate should figure out how to proceed with a trial that could consume the opening weeks of his presidency.
Psaki says the administration is instead focused on the pandemic and the economic crisis that have engulfed the country for nearly a year, noting that the Senate can handle multiple issues at once.
Trump was impeached last week on a charge of inciting an insurrection. It was his second impeachment, a record for any president.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki says President Joe Biden will call Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday, the first call with a foreign leader after Biden took the oath of office.
Psaki said Wednesday at her first press briefing that the subject of the call will be relations between the United States and Canada as well as the status of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, whose permitting Biden revoked in one of his first acts as president.
Psaki says Biden’s first round of calls to foreign leaders will be with allies, adding that the new president plans to repair relationships damaged by former President Donald Trump’s adversarial approach.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki is delivering the first news briefing of Joe Biden’s presidency, a once standard part of past administrations that was largely sidelined during the Trump era.
Psaki said Wednesday that she will bring truth and transparency to the White House briefing room, a clear reference to her predecessors under President Donald Trump.
The Trump administration took an openly combative tone with the news media. Sean Spicer, who was Trump’s first press secretary, set the tenor four years ago by claiming that the audience at Trump’s inauguration was the largest in history, despite photographic evidence to the contrary.
The Senate has voted to confirm Avril Haines as the new director of national intelligence, giving President Joe Biden the first member of his Cabinet.
The 84-10 vote by the Senate on Wednesday came after senators agreed to fast-track her nomination.
Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said it was fitting that Haines was confirmed first. He said the intelligence post is of “critical importance to the country.”
Haines told the Senate Intelligence Committee at a confirmation hearing Tuesday that China would be an important focus of the Biden administration. She said she sees her role as speaking “truth to power” and delivering accurate and apolitical intelligence even if it is uncomfortable or inconvenient for the administration.
The Senate was able to vote quickly on the nomination, and bypass a committee vote, after Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton dropped his objection. Cotton had said he wanted to hear from Haines on the Bush-era CIA interrogation program before he agreed to move forward. Haines was a deputy CIA director in the Obama administration.
The federal government has launched a new website that will serve as a clearinghouse for records from former President Donald Trump’s administration.
The National Archives and Records Administration announced the website on Wednesday. Eventually, it will be a repository of archived Trump-era documents, including his White House website and social media accounts. It will also offer information about accessing other records from Trump’s tenure.
The agency maintains records going back to President Herbert Hoover’s administration, which ended in 1933.
But there are questions about how meticulous the Trump administration was about keeping records. Trump was cavalier about a law requiring their preservation. He had a habit of ripping up documents before tossing them out.
That’s led some historians and archivists to worry that there will be a gaping hole in the history of Trump’s tumultuous four years in office.
President Joe Biden has given the Oval Office a slight makeover.
Biden revealed the new décor Wednesday as he invited reporters into his new office to watch him sign a series of executive orders hours after he took office.
A bust of Cesar Chavez, the labor leader and civil rights activist, is nestled among an array of framed family photos displayed on a desk behind the new president.
Benjamin Franklin peers down at Biden from a portrait on a nearby wall.
Biden brought a dark blue rug out of storage to replace a lighter colored one installed by former President Donald Trump.
One office feature remains: Biden is also using what’s known as the Resolute Desk because it was built from oak used in the British Arctic exploration ship HMS Resolute.
Trump used that desk, too.
President Joe Biden is reminding his federal appointees and staff that “we work for the people” and is calling on them to be “decent, honorable and smart.”
Biden swore in nearly 1,000 federal appointees and staff in a virtual ceremony in the State Dining Room at the White House on Wednesday evening. He spoke from behind a lectern, while the appointees appeared at the event via video streams set up on a series of television screens.
Biden said that if any of his appointees treat a colleague with disrespect, he will fire them “on the spot.” He said that mindset had been missing in President Donald Trump’s White House.
The new president also told the group that “we have such an awful lot to do” and said that containing the pandemic and administering COVID-19 vaccines will be the “most consequential logistical thing that’s ever been done in the United States.”
He said he’s “going to make mistakes” but promised during their swearing-in that he will ”acknowledge them” when he does.
One of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s signature achievements has met an abrupt end as a large placard enunciating his “professional ethos” was removed from the State Department’s main entrance.
Workers removed the giant sign from the department’s C Street lobby on Wednesday shortly after President Joe Biden was inaugurated. The placard had been prominently placed near a plaque honoring foreign service staff who died while serving their country, but many career diplomats considered it insulting and filled with unnecessary platitudes.
Department spokesperson Ned Price says, “We are confident that our colleagues do not need a reminder of the values we share.”
Pompeo unveiled his “ethos” statement to great fanfare in April 2019 with an eye toward improving morale. But it had the opposite effect, and many complained it was condescending.
Pompeo foes had accused the secretary and some of his top aides of failing to abide by the precepts of the ethos statement themselves, particularly during Trump’s Ukraine-related impeachment, when they decided not to publicly defend career diplomats.
President Joe Biden has signed a series of executive orders from the Oval Office hours after his inauguration.
Biden wore a mask while seated behind the Resolute Desk with a stack of orders early Wednesday evening. He said there was “no time to start like today.”
The first order Biden signed was related to the coronavirus pandemic. He also signed an order reentering the U.S. into the Paris climate accord.
While his predecessor Donald Trump broke long-standing practice by skipping Biden’s inauguration, he did follow through on one tradition and left behind a letter for Biden.
The new Democratic president said Trump “wrote a very generous letter.” But Biden said he wouldn’t reveal its contents until he had a chance to speak with Trump.
President Joe Biden has directed that federal agencies halt all rulemaking until his administration has time to review proposed regulations.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain announced the move in a memo to the heads of executive departments and agencies Wednesday afternoon, hours after Biden was sworn in as the nation’s 46th president.
The regulatory freeze order is a staple of presidential transitions, allowing the incoming administration to review the pending actions of their predecessors.
Three new Democratic senators have been sworn in to office by Vice President Kamala Harris. That means their party now has control of the White House and Congress for the first time in a decade.
Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff both won Senate runoff elections in Georgia earlier this month, defeating Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Alex Padilla was appointed by California’s governor to fill Harris’ seat.
Wednesday was Harris’ first time presiding over the Senate.
Warnock is Georgia’s first Black senator, and Padilla is California’s first Hispanic senator. Ossoff is Georgia’s first Jewish senator and, at 33, the Senate’s youngest sitting member.
The Senate is now divided 50-50. Democrats will be in control because the vice president casts tiebreaking votes in the chamber. Democrats have a 221-211 House majority, with three vacancies.
Democrats last controlled the White House, Senate and House in January 2011.
The New Radicals reunited after more than 20 years to virtually perform their 1998 hit “You Get What You Give” at the celebration for President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The anthem about social and political issues affecting America at the turn of the millennium raised eyebrows when it was announced for Wednesday’s festivities, but has strong connections to the president and vice president.
In Biden’s 2017 autobiography, “Promise Me, Dad,” he wrote that “You Get What You Give” became the family’s theme song when his son Beau was battling cancer. The song was also used on the campaign trail as the theme for Kamala Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, at rallies.
“This whole damn world could fall apart/You’ll be okay, follow your heart,” go some of the lyrics. “Don’t give up, you’ve got a reason to live/Can’t forget, we only get what we give.”
The new administration also was serenaded — virtually, of course — by some of the funkiest artists in American music: Earth, Wind & Fire and Niles Rogers with Kathy Sledge.
Three members of Earth Wind & Fire — Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Ralph Johnson — performed their hit “Sing a Song,” while Rogers and Sledge combined for a version of Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family.”
The performances, interspliced with marching bands, varied performances and stories from Biden-Harris supporters, played on social media and online after the Biden and Harris families concluded the inauguration parade.
Vice President Kamala Harris has entered her new office building for the first time in her new role.
Harris was joined Wednesday by her husband, Doug Emhoff, as she entered the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which houses the vice president’s office and is located near the White House.
The marching band of her alma mater, Howard University, helped lead Harris’ procession.
She was joined by her extended family and held hands with one of her young grandnieces, who was beaming and wearing a fur coat meant to mimic one Harris wore as a child.
Shouts of “We love you!” greeted her as she walked along the procession route. She waved at White House staffers gathered to watch and gave one final wave to the crowd before entering the building.
President Joe Biden has entered the White House for the first time as chief executive after walking an abbreviated parade route, still wearing his protective mask amid sounds of “Hail to the Chief.”
The 46th president and first lady Jill Biden walked through a military cordon lining the White House driveway with the flags of U.S. states, leading the first couple to the main entrance under the North Portico on Wednesday.
Biden was expected to immediately begin working, with a stack of executive orders on immigration and other matters awaiting his signature.
The final ceremonial flourish completed an abbreviated inaugural afternoon unlike any Washington has seen, with Biden being seen in person by only a relative smattering of Americans given security lockdowns after the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and public health protocols amid the ongoing pandemic.
President Joe Biden and his family have concluded his inaugural parade by walking a final short distance of the route to the White House.
Biden, his wife, Jill Biden, their children and their grandchildren held hands Wednesday afternoon as they strolled, waving to a mostly nonexistent crowd because of coronavirus social distancing guidelines.
Biden jogged over to the sidelines several times to stop to talk to reporters and spectators.
The first family arrived on the White House grounds with a band playing and press in tow.
Joe and Jill Biden completed the trip by embracing at the entrance to the White House while the band played “Hail to the Chief.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina says he hopes Donald Trump will continue to be the leader of the Republican Party after his election defeat and second impeachment.
The Republican senator said Wednesday during an interview on Fox News that “if you’re wanting to erase Donald Trump from the party, you’re going to get erased.”
Over the course of Trump’s one-term presidency, Graham went from being one of his fiercest critics to being one of his most prominent allies in Congress.
Graham said it was inappropriate for Republicans in Congress to try to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory and called Trump’s comments ahead of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot “a big mistake.” But he says ultimately that it wasn’t a crime and that he blames “the people that came into the Capitol, not him.”
He said he thinks there would be a lot of support for Trump if he ran again in 2024.
He added: “But I’m not worried about 2024. I want to help Biden where I can, I want to get this country back on track.”
Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton says it really lifted her heart to see Joe Biden sworn in as president on the same platform that supporters of President Donald Trump climbed when they attacked the Capitol two weeks ago.
Clinton and her husband, the former President Bill Clinton, attended Wednesday’s inauguration of Biden. Afterward, she told The Associated Press that she was “relieved and grateful” to see Biden sworn in with a peaceful transition of power.
That’s been taken for granted in the U.S. for over two centuries. But two weeks ago, hundreds of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from formally certifying Biden’s election victory over Trump.
The House impeached Trump a week later on a charge of inciting an insurrection.
Clinton says she thinks it was meaningful to many Americans to see Biden take his oath of office where, “just a few weeks ago, marauders and terrorists had been attempting to stop democracy.”
Trump defeated Clinton for the presidency in 2016.
The highest-ranking Black member of Congress says former President George W. Bush lauded his role as a “savior” in helping get President Joe Biden elected to the White House.
U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said Wednesday on a call with reporters that the Republican former president told him ahead of the inaugural ceremony that, if he had not given Biden the boost he did ahead of South Carolina’s primary, “we would not be having this transfer of power today.”
Clyburn says Bush went on to say that Biden was “the only one who could have defeated the incumbent president,” Donald Trump. Trump and the Bush family didn’t get along.
Clyburn’s pivotal endorsement ahead of South Carolina’s Democratic primary helped propel Biden to the nomination. Biden won South Carolina by a margin of nearly 30 points.
Clyburn, South Carolina’s only Democratic representative in Congress, is the dean of the state’s Democrats and the third-ranking member of the U.S. House.
President Joe Biden has spent a few of the first moments of his term at Arlington National Cemetery, honoring fallen veterans with three former presidents and their families.
The president, first lady Jill Biden, and newly sworn-in Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, presided over a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider on Wednesday.
After cannon fire rumbled in the distance, Biden saluted as a military band played the national anthem.
Biden and Harris later briefly touched the wreath before bowing their heads in prayer. The president also made the sign of the cross, then he and Harris stood somberly for the playing of taps.
Joining them at the ceremony were former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura and former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary.
Former President Donald Trump flew to Florida before Biden was sworn into office.