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Inauguration Live Updates: Biden sworn in as 46th president, declaring “democracy has prevailed”


Washington — Joseph R. Biden, Jr., has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, taking the reins of power at a perilous time in American history and urging a bitterly divided country to unite around defeating the deadliest pandemic in a century.

“This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day,” Mr. Biden said in his inaugural address. “Today we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause. The cause of democracy. The people, the will of the people, has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded.”

Noting that he was being inaugurated on the Capitol steps just two weeks after it was stormed by a “riotous mob,” Mr. Biden said the country has been reminded that “democracy is precious, democracy is fragile, and at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”

Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office shortly before noon, when Mr. Biden officially became president. Mr. Biden addressed the nation minutes after Vice President Kamala Harris was first sworn in, making history as the first woman and person of color to become second in line to the presidency.

After the swearing-in, Mr. Biden and Harris took part in modified versions of the ceremonial duties that traditionally surround the inauguration of a new president, accepting gifts from congressional leaders and laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before participating in a short parade to the White House before a modest, mask-wearing crowd.

Mr. Biden takes over at a time of tremendous upheaval and division, fueled both by his predecessor and the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 Americans. 

The inauguration ceremony was unlike any the country has ever seen, with a new president addressing an empty National Mall while thousands of National Guard troops stood watch over downtown Washington. The Mall was filled with thousands of small flags representing Americans who might otherwise have been in attendance, were it not for the pandemic.

Members of Congress, Supreme Court justices and outgoing Vice President Mike Pence were on hand to witness Mr. Biden’s swearing-in, with seats spaced apart to prevent the spread of the virus. Three former presidents — Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — were also among those in attendance.

Former President Donald Trump, however, was not there, having left Washington earlier Wednesday morning. Mr. Trump instead addressed supporters before boarding Air Force One for the last time as president to fly to Florida. He is the first outgoing president in more than 150 years to not attend the inauguration of his successor.

Mr. Biden plans to quickly begin dismantling some of Mr. Trump’s signature initiatives with a slew of executive orders and actions set to be signed on Day 1. He becomes the first president to enter office without a single Cabinet secretary confirmed by the Senate.

How to watch inauguration coverage

  • What: Joe Biden is inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States
  • Date: Wednesday, January 20
  • Location: U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.
  • On TV: CBS broadcast stations (Full list of CBS stations here)
  • Online stream: Live on CBSN in the player above and on your mobile or streaming device
  • “Red & Blue” special on CBSN: 5 p.m.
  • “One Nation Indivisible” special: 8 p.m. on CBS broadcast channels
  • “Celebrating America” special: 8:30 p.m. on CBS and CBSN

Biden and Harris, joined by 3 ex-presidents, lay wreath at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The new commander in chief and vice president were joined by former Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton at a traditional wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. 

Mr. Biden and Harris observed a moment of silence before a member of the military honor guard played “Taps” in the somber ceremony.



Biden, Harris participate in Pass in Review of military troops

After receiving gifts from congressional leaders, Mr. Biden and Harris participated in the traditional Pass in Review, during which they reviewed military troops at the East Front of the Capitol.

Mr. Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden, as well as Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff, then got into separate cars, which will take them to Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The black limousine carrying Mr. Biden is adorned with the presidential seal and a license plate that says “46.”



Amanda Gorman reads “The Hill We Climb” at Biden’s inauguration

Watch: Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman recites poem at Biden's inauguration


Amanda Gorman made history Wednesday as the youngest known inaugural poet. The 22-year-old Los Angeles resident delivered her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the inauguration, and earned rave reviews for her powerful message.

Ahead of the performance, Gorman spoke about the impact of her poem with “CBS This Morning” and noted how the message changed after the violent attack on the Capitol. “I wanted it to be a message of hope and unity. And I think that Wednesday for me really just underscored how much that was needed,” she said. “But to not turn a blind eye to the cracks that really need to be filled.”

In 2017, Gorman became the first National Youth Poet Laureate. The Harvard graduate plans to release a children’s book of poems later this year. Like Mr. Biden, Gorman has struggled with a speech impediment throughout her life, making poetry a “lifeline” for her. Also like Mr. Biden, she has a long-term goal of running for president.

Read more here.



Pelosi and McConnell present Biden and Harris with flags that flew over Capitol

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell presented Mr. Biden and Harris with the American flags that flew over the Capitol as they were sworn in, as a part of the ceremony in which congressional leaders give gifts. 

McConnell took the opportunity to make a dig at the House, pointing out that both Harris and Mr. Biden skipped the House and went straight to the Senate. 


Other congressional leaders presented official photos of the inauguration to Harris and Mr. Biden.



Biden signing ceremonial documents at the Capitol

Mr. Biden is signing three documents in the President’s Room at the Capitol: an Inauguration Day Proclamation, nominations to Cabinet positions and nominations to lower-level positions.

Mr. Biden will also conduct a review of the armed forces on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol. He will be hosted by the commander of Joint Task Force-National Capital Region and will review the readiness of military troops, with every branch of the military represented.



Pence departs inauguration, heading back to Indiana

Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff bid farewell to now-former Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence, escorting them down the steps on the East Front of the Capitol as they prepared to depart Washington for Indiana. 

The foursome spoke on the steps before the Pences got into a black SUV and left the Capitol complex.


The Pences will take a small government plane on a “special air mission” to his hometown of Columbus, Indiana. One of the pilots that flew the couple from Indiana to Washington four years ago will be flying them back to their home state, a senior administration official said Tuesday.



Biden White House secures social media handles, launches new website

The new White House has gained control of official Twitter handles, securing @WhiteHouse, @POTUS, @VP, @FLOTUS and @PressSec. The Trump-era accounts have been archived under new handles: @POTUS45, @WhiteHouse45, @VP45, @PressSec45, @FLOTUS45 and @SecondLady45.

The Twitter followers for the Trump-era accounts did not transfer to the new Biden White House accounts, a change from 2016, when Mr. Trump’s team inherited the accounts’ millions of followers.


Mr. Biden’s team has also taken over the White House Facebook page, and launched a revamped whitehouse.gov within minutes of Mr. Biden becoming president.



Biden declares “democracy has prevailed,” urging unity in inaugural address

Joe Biden's inauguration address: "This is America's day"


In his 21-minute inauguration address, President Biden outlined an optimistic view of the future, and called for Americans to unify around common goals.

“This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day,” Mr. Biden said. “Today we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause. The cause of democracy. The people, the will of the people, has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded.”

Noting that he was being inaugurated on the Capitol steps just two weeks after it was stormed by a “riotous mob,” Mr. Biden said that the country had learned that “democracy is precious, democracy is fragile, and at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”

“This is a great nation. We are good people. And over the centuries, through storm and strife, in peace and in war, we’ve come so far. And we still have far to go. We’ll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of

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