Thursday, 21 January 2021

Former presidents unite behind Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as they lay wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

 In their first show of unity, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier besides past presidents and first ladies from both parties - with the obvious exception of Donald Trump. 

Standing behind Biden and Harris at Arlington National Cemetery were former presidents Barack Obama and first ladies Michelle; George W. Bush and Laura; and Bill Clinton and Hillary. 

The message of cross-party unity could not have been clearer: three former presidents and first ladies coming together to salute the fallen.

After past inaugurations, the new president and vice-president have traditionally traveled to Arlington, but on Wednesday afternoon the unofficial club of former presidents joined to echo the theme of Joe Biden's inaugural address. The 96-year-old Jimmy Carter did not come to the inauguration over COVID-19 concerns but congratulated Biden in a message.  

The scene of three former and one current commanders-in-chief mourning the fallen together underlined how Trump had made himself an outcast from America's smallest - and most exclusive - club. 

United: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with (from left) Michelle and Barack Obama, Laura and George W. Bush and Hillary and Bill Clinton.

United: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with (from left) Michelle and Barack Obama, Laura and George W. Bush and Hillary and Bill Clinton.

Moment of respect: The three former presidents wait for the new president and vice president to arrive at Arlington

Moment of respect: The three former presidents wait for the new president and vice president to arrive at Arlington 

Vice President Kamala Harris (left) and President Joe Biden (right) participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Vice President Kamala Harris (left) and President Joe Biden (right) participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier 

Vice President Kamala Harris (center) and President Joe Biden (right) salute the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlinton National Cemetery

Vice President Kamala Harris (center) and President Joe Biden (right) salute the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlinton National Cemetery 

BIPARTISAN ALLIANCE: Standing behind the new president and vice president were (from left) Michelle Obama, Barack Obama, Laura Bush, George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton

BIPARTISAN ALLIANCE: Standing behind the new president and vice president were (from left) Michelle Obama, Barack Obama, Laura Bush, George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris walk to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris walk to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday 

He had railed against all three former presidents, especially Obama, but had also dismissed Bush, privately calling him a 'dummy,' while his one-time friendship with Bill Clinton was shattered by the bitterness of the 2016 election campaign.

The hostility was reciprocated: Members of the Bush family were critical of Trump throughout his administration. Four years ago at inauguration, George W. Bush commented 'That was some weird s**t.'

In contrast, while Obama was extremely critical of Bush when running for president in 2008, those two families have developed a friendly relationship, especially between Bush and Michelle Obama. Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush became close friends after the 41st president's defeat.

In his inaugural address, Biden issued a call for unity and promised to govern for 'all Americans' Wednesday, seeking to move the nation beyond the presidency of Donald Trump and what he described as an attack on democracy itself in his first remarks to the nation as president.

In a 22-minute address after he was sworn in 11 minutes early by Chief Justice John Roberts, Biden drew a sharp contrast between his presidency and the preceding four years, saying: 'My whole soul is in this. I'll keep everything I do in your service, thinking not of power but of possibilities, not of personal injuries but the public good.'

Biden did not mention Trump by name but wove a thread of contrast through his speech. He denounced 'lies told for power and for profit,' said 'there are truth and there are lies,' acknowledged the bitter divisions in the country as an 'uncivil war,' and referred to the MAGA mob which rioted in the place he spoke just two weeks ago, saying: 'Democracy prevailed.'

He spoke in unique circumstances: no crowds because of COVID and a security clampdown in the wake of the MAGA riot, and for the first time since 1869, his predecessor absent.

Trump had left Washington D.C. with a tub-thumping speech saying 'we will be back – in some form' and taken Air Force One to Mar-a-Lago, issuing a final pardon with less than an hour of his presidency left, and telling his friends he will start his own 'Patriot Party.'

On the dais on the Capitol steps, Biden put his hand on his family's Bible, held by his wife Jill, and took the oath, then addressed the nation for the first time as the 46th president.

He made unity the theme of his address and also highlighted the coronavirus hobbling the nation, taking a pause and asking for silent prayer for the more than 400,000 COVID dead.

'To all those who supported our campaign, I'm humbled by the faith you've placed in us. To all of 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,' said Biden.

'If you still disagree, so be it. That's democracy,' he told opponents. 'That's America. The right to dissent peaceably. Within the guardrails of our republic, it's perhaps this nation's greatest strength. Yet hear me clearly: disagreement must not lead to disunion. And I pledge this to you, I will be a president for all Americans – all Americans,' he said.

He spoke with urgency about the 'painful lesson' of recent weeks, referencing the riot in the Capitol that followed Trump's effort to overturn the results in states that voted for Biden as a historic time of testing for the nation – but also pronounced that 'democracy has prevailed.' 

Joe Biden raised his hand and took an oath to 'preserve, protect and defend' the Constitution on Wednesday ¿ starting his tenure amid a pandemic and putting an end to a tumultuous four-year term by President Donald Trump

Joe Biden raised his hand and took an oath to 'preserve, protect and defend' the Constitution on Wednesday – starting his tenure amid a pandemic and putting an end to a tumultuous four-year term by President Donald Trump

Biden, in tactic acknowledgement of Trump's refusal to concede the election, announced 'democracy has prevailed' in the opening of his inaugural address

Biden, in tactic acknowledgement of Trump's refusal to concede the election, announced 'democracy has prevailed' in the opening of his inaugural address

'The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded,' Biden said on the West Front of the Capitol just two weeks after MAGA riots threatened to stop the counting of the electoral votes for president in its tracks

'The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded,' Biden said on the West Front of the Capitol just two weeks after MAGA riots threatened to stop the counting of the electoral votes for president in its tracks 

Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden kiss after he was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol

Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden kiss after he was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol 


Trump skipped the event, flying to Mar-a-Lago after organizing his own pep rally sendoff, telling supporters and family members 'Have a good life, we will see you soon

Trump skipped the event, flying to Mar-a-Lago after organizing his own pep rally sendoff, telling supporters and family members 'Have a good life, we will see you soon

President Donald Trump gestures to supporters en route to his Mar-a-Lago Florida Resort as Biden's inauguration was underway

President Donald Trump gestures to supporters en route to his Mar-a-Lago Florida Resort as Biden's inauguration was underway

On Wednesday, with history-making Vice President Kamala Harris on his team, the oldest person to become president is vowing to focus on the virus

On Wednesday, with history-making Vice President Kamala Harris on his team, the oldest person to become president is vowing to focus on the virus

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris during the inauguration of Joe Biden

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris during the inauguration of Joe Biden 


President Joe Biden signs three documents including an Inauguration declaration, cabinet nominations and sub-cabinet nominations, as US Vice President Kamala Harris watches in the Presidents Room

President Joe Biden signs three documents including an Inauguration declaration, cabinet nominations and sub-cabinet nominations, as US Vice President Kamala Harris watches in the Presidents Room 

Biden also acknowledged the attack that took place on the Capitol two weeks ago, when a pro-Trump mob interrupted the certification of his victory

Biden also acknowledged the attack that took place on the Capitol two weeks ago, when a pro-Trump mob interrupted the certification of his victory

'We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue,' he said, echoing some of the themes of Barack Obama, who brought him to the White House only to watch his own agenda come under assault during the Trump presidency. 

He warned of a 'dark winter' and listed the challenges he faces, including COVID, an economy in crisis, and the explosion of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd saying: 'A once in a century virus that silently stalks the country. It's taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II. Millions of jobs have been lost, hundreds of thousands of businesses closed, a cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.'

But he said: 'To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America, requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy, unity.'

And he spoke of his own faith as the second-ever Catholic president, quoting St. Augustine, after a day which began with mass with Congressional leaders, and also spoke of his faith in America, saying: 'This is a great nation. We are good people.' 

The 78-year-old thanked his predecessors of both parties for being at his swearing-in. Former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush attended – making Trump's absence even more notable. Trump skipped the event, flying to Mar-a-Lago after organizing his own pep rally sendoff, telling supporters and family members 'Have a good life, we will see you soon. 

'I thank my predecessors of both parties for their presence here today. I thank them from the bottom of my heart,' Biden said, adding he had spoken to former President Jimmy Carter on the phone the night before. Carter did not attend out of safety reasons because of the COVID pandemic.

Biden also acknowledged the attack that took place on the Capitol two weeks ago, when a pro-Trump mob interrupted the certification of his victory.

'Now on this hallowed ground where just a few days ago violence sought to shake the capital's very foundation. We come together under one nation, under god, indivisible, to transfer the peaceful power as we have for two centuries,' he said.

Biden gave his inaugural remarks after history-making Vice President Kamala Harris was sworn in, with the oldest person to become president taking an oath to 'preserve, protect and defend' the Constitution – starting his tenure amid a pandemic and putting an end to a tumultuous four-year term by President Trump. 

In his inaugural remarks, Biden declared: 'Unity is the path forward.

He asked for all Americans to come together and join him. He also asked those 75 million Trump voters to 'hear him out' during his time in office.

'My whole soul is in it today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this, bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. I ask every American to join me in this cause,' he said. 

In his inaugural remarks, Biden declared: 'Unity is the path forward. He asked for all Americans to come together and join him. He also asked those 75 million Trump voters to 'hear him out' during his time in office

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden gesture as they leave after his inauguration at the U.S. Capitol

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden gesture as they leave after his inauguration at the U.S. Capitol

Biden specifically called for an end to manipulating facts and raging at one another ¿ two characteristics of Trump's time in office

Biden specifically called for an end to manipulating facts and raging at one another – two characteristics of Trump's time in office

President Joe Biden is congratulated by first lady Jill Biden, his son Hunter Biden and daughter Ashley Biden after being sworn-in during the 59th Presidential Inauguration

President Joe Biden is congratulated by first lady Jill Biden, his son Hunter Biden and daughter Ashley Biden after being sworn-in during the 59th Presidential Inauguration

Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC

Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC

Kamala Harris is sworn in as Vice President by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as her husband Doug Emhoff holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration

Kamala Harris is sworn in as Vice President by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as her husband Doug Emhoff holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration

Biden gave his inaugural remarks after history-making Vice President Kamala Harris was sworn in, with the oldest person to become president taking an oath to 'preserve, protect and defend' the Constitution – starting his tenure amid a pandemic and putting an end to a tumultuous four-year term by President Trump

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris greets former U.S. President Barack Obama ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris greets former U.S. President Barack Obama ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden

Former President George W. Bush, from left, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama arrive to the West Front of the U.S. Capitol for the Inauguration of Joe Biden in Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

Former President George W. Bush, from left, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama arrive to the West Front of the U.S. Capitol for the Inauguration of Joe Biden in Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, arrive for the 59th Presidential Inauguration

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, arrive for the 59th Presidential Inauguration

Former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle arrive for the 59th Presidential Inauguration

Former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle arrive for the 59th Presidential Inauguration

Former US President Bill Clint (L) and former US First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura arrive for the 59th Presidential Inauguration

Bernie Sanders documents President Joe Biden's inauguration on his cellphone on Wednesday

Bernie Sanders documents President Joe Biden's inauguration on his cellphone on Wednesday 

Family members of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris attend the inauguration of Joe Biden

Family members of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris attend the inauguration of Joe Biden


Biden didn't mention President Trump by name but his speech was full of denunciation of Trump's tactics and methods.

'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 specifically called for an end to manipulating facts and raging at one another – two characteristics of Trump's time in office.

'Let's start afresh, all of us. Let's begin to listen to one another again, hear one another, see one another, show respect to one another. Politics doesn't have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn't have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured,' he noted.

'There is truth and there are lies. Lies told for power and for profit. Each of us has the duty and responsibility as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders, leaders who have pledged to honor our constitution and protect our nation, to defend the truth and defeat the lies,' Biden said. 

He acknowledged the deep divides and wounds in the country.

'This is a great nation. We are good people. Over the centuries, through storm and strife, and peace and at war, we've come so far. We still have far to go. We'll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities. Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain,' he said.

Biden also acknowledged the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans and devastated the American economy.

'We need all our strength to persevere through this dark winter. We're entering what may be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus. We must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation. One nation. I promise you this. As the bible says, we may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. We will get through this together. Together!,' he said.

In his first act as president, he asked Americans to join him in a moment of silence to remember those who died from the deadly disease.

'My first act as president, I'd like to ask you to join me in a moment of silent prayer to remember all those who we lost this past year to the pandemic, those 400,000 fellow Americans, moms, dads, husband, wives, daughters, sons, coworkers. We will honor them by becoming the people and the nation we know we can and should be. Let's say a silent prayer for those who lost their lives and for those left behind and for our country. Amen,' he said.

He acknowledged the challenges that face him as he takes office as the nation's 46th president, including the pandemic, racism, the climate and America's role in the world.

'Folks, this is a time of testing. We face an attack on democracy and untruth, a raging virus, growing inequity, sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis, America's role in the world. Any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways, but the fact is, we face them all at once presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we've had. Now we're going to be tested. Are we going to step up, all of us? It's time for boldness, for there's so much to do,' he said.

He closed with another call for unity.

'My fellow Americans, I close the day where I began, with a sacred oath, before God and all of you. I give you my word, I will always level with you,' he said.

'Together we shall write an American story of hope, not fear, of unity, not division, of light, not darkness, a story of decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness. May this be the story that guides us, the story that inspires us, and the story that tells ages yet to come that we answer the call of history. We met the moment. Democracy and hope, truth and justice did not die on our watch, but thrived,' he added. 

Biden concluded his 20 minutes of remarks with: 'So, with purpose and resolve, we turn to those tasks of our time, sustained by faith, driven by conviction, devoted to one another and the country we love with all our hearts. May god bless America and may God protect our troops. Thank you, America.' 

Joe and Jill Biden greeted their predecessors in the White House with hugs and handshakes as they exited the inauguration platform. The couple shared a particularly long hug with Barack and Michelle Obama, who they were close to in the eight years Biden served as Obama's vice president.

They also greeted George W. Bush and Laura Bush and Bill and Hillary Clinton. The former first couples will join the Bidens at Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in a show of bipartisan unity. 


He closed with another call for unity. 'My fellow Americans, I close the day where I began, with a sacred oath, before God and all of you. I give you my word, I will always level with you,' he said

He closed with another call for unity. 'My fellow Americans, I close the day where I began, with a sacred oath, before God and all of you. I give you my word, I will always level with you,' he said

Joe Biden hugs his wife Jill Biden after he was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States

Joe Biden hugs his wife Jill Biden after he was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States

President Joe Biden is hugged by his wife Jill Biden after delivering his inaugural address

President Joe Biden is hugged by his wife Jill Biden after delivering his inaugural address 

Kamala Harris is sworn in as U.S. Vice President as her husband Doug Emhoff and President Elect Joe Biden look on

Kamala Harris is sworn in as U.S. Vice President as her husband Doug Emhoff and President Elect Joe Biden look on

Jennifer Lopez with Vice President Kamala Harris during the inauguration of Joe Biden

Jennifer Lopez with Vice President Kamala Harris during the inauguration of Joe Biden

Jennifer Lopez performs during the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States

Jennifer Lopez performs during the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States

Lady Gaga sings the U.S. National Anthem at the beginning of the swearing in ceremony

Lady Gaga sings the U.S. National Anthem at the beginning of the swearing in ceremony

Amanda Gorman recites a poem during the inauguration of Joe Biden

Amanda Gorman recites a poem during the inauguration of Joe Biden

Singer Garth Brooks greets Joe Biden after singing Amazing Grace during the inauguration of Joe Biden

Singer Garth Brooks greets Joe Biden after singing Amazing Grace during the inauguration of Joe Biden

Guests and spectators attend the 59th Presidential Inauguration for President Joe Biden

Guests and spectators attend the 59th Presidential Inauguration for President Joe Biden


Biden also exchanged salutes with General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A military honor guard saluted the new president as he departed as 'Stars & Stripes' played.

The Bidens held hands as they walked through the Capitol building after the ceremony

Biden had cued up a batch of executives for signing late Wednesday afternoon to begin the effort to roll back elements of the Trump agenda and demonstrate a restoration to the last Democratic administration.

Biden was planning to sign orders to stop construction of Trump's border wall, end the ban on immigration from majority Muslim nations, and reenter the Paris climate accord.

Others would get the U.S. back into the World Health Organization, require mask use in federal buildings, and end a 1776 commission conceived as a way to push back against 'woke' efforts to take down confederate statues and otherwise reexamine the nation's monuments and memory.

Biden, 78 and the oldest person sworn in as president, inherits a divided country, wracked by the virus, with millions on unemployment, and huge swaths of Republicans doubting the legitimacy of his election.

Biden was joined on the West Front of the Capitol by predecessors and lawmakers from both parties – including now-former Vice President Mike Pence, who had overseen the counting of Biden's 306 to 232 electoral vote win in a normally perfunctory count that was interrupted by the riot.

Biden made the coronavirus pandemic a central part of his campaign, and there were reminders all around him of the difficult circumstances the nation faces. Attendees had their chairs spaced out in an effort at social distancing. Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, and other guests wore masks in an effort to limit the spread of the virus that has killed 400,000 Americans.

Just as evident was the constitutional crisis the nation faced, with figures from both parties present as a show of unity and continuity. Former President Barack Obama, who put Biden on the ticket, was there with former first lady Michelle Obama, who made impassioned pleas for Biden's election.

Biden made the coronavirus pandemic a central part of his campaign, and there were reminders all around him of the difficult circumstances the nation faces. Attendees had their chairs spaced out in an effort at social distancing

Biden made the coronavirus pandemic a central part of his campaign, and there were reminders all around him of the difficult circumstances the nation faces. Attendees had their chairs spaced out in an effort at social distancing

Biden and Dr. Jill Biden arrive in the Crypt of the US Capitol for Biden's inauguration ceremony to be the 46th President of the United States

Biden and Dr. Jill Biden arrive in the Crypt of the US Capitol for Biden's inauguration ceremony to be the 46th President of the United States

Supporters of President Joseph Biden celebrate as they listen to him speak during the presidential inauguration on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Supporters of President Joseph Biden celebrate as they listen to him speak during the presidential inauguration on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Supporters of U.S. President Joe Biden celebrate after he was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States

Supporters of U.S. President Joe Biden celebrate after he was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States

Hunter Biden and Ashley Biden arrive before the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States

Hunter Biden and Ashley Biden arrive before the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States

Former President Barack Obama and former First lady Michele Obama arrive at the U.S. Capitol for Wednesday's inauguration
Former President Bill Clinton and his wife former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are seen arriving at the Capitol for Joe Biden's inauguration

Former President Barack Obama and former First lady Michele Obama, Former President Bill Clinton and his wife former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are seen arriving at the Capitol for Joe Biden's inauguration 

Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura are seen before US president-elect Joe Biden is sworn in

Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura are seen before US president-elect Joe Biden is sworn in

A general view as attendees arrive to the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday

A general view as attendees arrive to the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday 

General view of audience during the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States

General view of audience during the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States

Trump's contempt for Obama and birther claims helped fuel the president's rise. Also there was former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush. Bush had been astonished by some of Trump's rhetoric at Trump's inaugural address four years ago, and his own dynasty fell victim to Trump's political attacks on his brother, Jeb.

During the day's events, a series of speakers pointed to the Capitol riot, praising the peaceful transition in a capitol locked down by 25,000 National Guard forces brought in to maintain security.

'This is the day when our democracy picks itself up, brushes off the dust, and does what it always does,' said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), one of a bevy of Democrats Biden defeated in his road to the White House.

Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri noted that there was 'one political party more pleased today' just as 'on every inaugural day' – than the other.

Biden had lined up other gestures to demonstrate unity of purpose – and his own firm control of the government after Trump spent months calling the election 'rigged' and claiming he had won.

After attending mass with Republican and Democratic leaders, Biden planned to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. He was to be accompanied by predecessors Obama, Bush, and Clinton.

His return to the White House would also reestablish norms. After Trump has been out of sight for days, releasing canned video farewell remarks, Biden was to allow reporters into the Oval Office when he signed orders.

His new White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, was to hold an on-camera briefing Wednesday night.  

Earlier that morning, Biden orchestrated a demonstration of faith and political power before he took the oath of office – attending mass with congressional leaders from both parties.

Biden and the powerbrokers who will help steer or stall his agenda joined for the service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, where funeral services were held for President John F. Kenned in 1963. 

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump greet the crowd before boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 - snubbing Biden's inauguration

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump greet the crowd before boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 - snubbing Biden's inauguration 

Trump gives his farewell speech at Andrews Air Force Base in the last hours of his Presidency. He said it had been an 'honor and a privilege' 

The pair spoke briefly to the media before they boarded Marine One. Trump will give a lengthier speech at Joint Base Andrews

The pair spoke briefly to the media before they boarded Marine One. Trump will give a lengthier speech at Joint Base Andrews


They met in a city under heavy military guard amid security threats following the MAGA riots January 6.

He was joined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said Tuesday that President Trump 'provoked' the crowd that ransacked the Capitol and has not said how he will vote on impeachment. Also joining was House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who reportedly infuriated Trump with his remarks on the floor of the House where he blasted Trump's conduct but still voted not to impeach him.

McCarthy was one of the more than 100 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. 'The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack by mob rioters,' Mr. McCarthy said on the House floor Wednesday. 'What we saw last week was not the American way. Neither is the continued rhetoric that Joe Biden is not the legitimate president.'

He was also joined by Harris, her husband Doug Emhoff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said Trump may have been an accessory to murder through his actions connected to the MAGA riot at the Capitol, and soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, who will oversee Trump's impeachment after he leaves.

His visit came just minutes after President Donald Trump departed the White House and stepped aboard Marine One for the last time – without engaging in any of the brash 'chopper talk' with the press that had become his trademark. Instead, the president flew to a staged rally on a military base where Ivanka Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner other family members and other remaining supporters gathered. Laura Branigan's 'Gloria' was playing when Trump landed. 

Biden will be the nation's second Catholic president. The cathedral is just blocks away from the White House – although getting there would require circumventing a massive security presence with fencing and members of the 25,000 strong National Guard force protecting the city.

The demonstration of unity – a prelude to what was set to occur at the West Front of the Capitol – separated the powerful lawmakers who remain from President Trump, who set up his own separate departure while skipping many of the traditional gestures of continuity. Trump didn't host Biden at the the White House; the first lady didn't host Dr. Jill Biden; Trump skipped the inauguration altogether and left Washington before Biden was to take office.

Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, departed Blair House across the street from the White House just after Trump wrapped up remarks to his family and supporters at Joint Base Andrews, telling them: 'Have a good life, we will see you soon.'

The Bidens traveled by motorcade to St. Matthews. He has regularly attended mass during the campaign and during the transition.

Biden wore a mask – as he seeks to mobilize Americans to mask-up for 100 days to try to stem the spread of infection.

Biden's act of ritual and supplication came after the Bidens and President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff on Tuesday attended a memorial to the 400,000 victims of the coronavirus at the Lincoln Memorial. 

In the split-screen coverage of the transition brought on by Trump's failure to linger, while the Bidens were gathered inside the cathedral for mass, Air Force One took off with Trump's rally soundtrack playing Frank Sinatra's 'My Way.'  

Members of the National Guard gather near the U.S. Capitol before the inauguration at the Capitol

Members of the National Guard gather near the U.S. Capitol before the inauguration at the Capitol 

As seen from the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, preparations are made before the inauguration of Joe Biden

As seen from the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, preparations are made before the inauguration of Joe Biden 

Just two weeks ago to the day, the Capitol was the target of violence and unrest. Today it will be the backdrop for a new president

Just two weeks ago to the day, the Capitol was the target of violence and unrest. Today it will be the backdrop for a new president 

A-Rod and Lady Gaga were seen arriving at the inauguration. Lady Gaga will be performing, as well as A-Rod's fiancee Jennifer Lopez
A-Rod and Lady Gaga were seen arriving at the inauguration. Lady Gaga will be performing, as well as A-Rod's fiancee Jennifer Lopez

A-Rod and Lady Gaga were seen arriving at the inauguration. Lady Gaga will be performing, as well as A-Rod's fiancee Jennifer Lopez 


Donald Trump vowed 'we will be back - in some form' as he left Washington D.C. for the last time Wednesday, flying off on Air Force One to Mar-a-Lago to snub Joe Biden – then claiming credit in advance for the new administration's success.

'Have a good life,' he told a crowd of a few hundred supporters at Joint Base Andrews, after listing his 'achievements' in a speech which began after a 21-gun salute.

In the front row, Ivanka Trump cried, while behind the maskless crowd chanted 'thank you Trump,' before the first family climbed the stairs to Air Force One for the final time. 

The military ceremony had the atmosphere of a Trump rally: Gloria was played as Air Force One taxied, and then the YMCA as Trump hugged and kissed his children.

'We love you. We will be back in some form,' he told the crowd of cheering supporters before signing off: 'Have a good life, we will see you soon.'  

The farewell resembled one of Trump's infamous campaign rallies, ending with 'YMCA' – the song Trump would depart to – as supporters cheered 'USA, USA, USA.'

The president paused at times in his remarks. While he did not show tears, he appeared to feel the weight of the occasion while taking time to enjoy the final moments of his time in office. He notably did not mention the name of incoming President Joe Biden.

'Hail to Chief' played as Trump and Melania - who was wearing a Chanel jacket, sunglasses and carrying a $60,000 black crocodile Hermes Birkin bag - walked from Marine One to the platform where the president addressed the crowd. 

'We love you,' the supporters yelled as Trump took the stage after arriving while his children watched on proudly. 

'We accomplished a lot,' Trump said. 'We worked hard. We left it all - as the athletes would say - we left it in the field.'   

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden arrive for the inauguration of Joe Biden

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden arrive for the inauguration of Joe Biden 

President-elect Joe Biden his greeted by former President Barrack Obama

President-elect Joe Biden his greeted by former President Barrack Obama

Jill Biden, wife of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden arrives for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S

Jill Biden, wife of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden arrives for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S

Harris and Douglas Emhoff arrive at the United States Capitol for the inauguration of Joe Biden as US President

Harris and Douglas Emhoff arrive at the United States Capitol for the inauguration of Joe Biden as US President

Doug Emhoff, Kamala Harris, incoming US First Lady Jill Biden, US President-elect Joe Biden arrive for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th US President

Doug Emhoff, Kamala Harris, incoming US First Lady Jill Biden, US President-elect Joe Biden arrive for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th US President

Donald Trump left the White House on Marine One for the final time Wednesday, pumping his fist and giving a thumbs-up as he walked with Melania to the start of a new life. 

The only people gathered outside to wish him goodbye were the press, to whom he briefly spoke to them before getting on board.

In a glaring split-screen moment defining the end of the Trump years, Joe Biden was about to leave Blair House, the White House's official guest house, to go to mass with his wife Jill and Congressional leaders.

Trump was flying to Joint Base Andrews to speak in front of Air Force One to a small crowd of supporters. 

The pair stopped briefly to speak to the media before they boarded the helicopter with a stream of staffers hurrying behind them. Melania was dressed in all black and wore sunglasses. 

Trump's early departure for Florida has caused a logistical and security nightmare since he is taking with him the nuclear codes. They will then be flown back to DC to be handed over to Biden this afternoon. 

On Tuesday night, Trump made one of his final acts in office granting pardons to dozens of rappers, millionaires and strategists, including his old friend Steve Bannon. 

As he makes his way to Florida on Wednesday morning, Biden will begin his day by attending mass with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He will then watch stars including Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga serenade him on the Captiol before delivering his address to the nation and being sworn in.  

This year, due to the ongoing pandemic and fears of a security threat, the mall - where thousands normally line up to greet the new President and First Lady - will be closed to the public.  

A smaller-than-usual crowd of guests including former Presidents and lawmakers will attend the inauguration ceremony in a socially-distanced manner instead.   

Donald and Melania Trump leave the White House on Wednesday morning for the last time to be taken to Air Force One 

Marine One lands at the White House to collect President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for the last time to take them to Joint Base Andrews where they will board Air Force Once to fly to Mar-a-Lago ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration

Marine One lands at the White House to collect President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for the last time to take them to Joint Base Andrews where they will board Air Force Once to fly to Mar-a-Lago ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration 

A moving truck drives away from the West Wing of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, on Wednesday January 20

A moving truck drives away from the West Wing of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, on Wednesday January 20 

Aids carry boxes to Marine One before President Donald Trump leaves the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

Aids carry boxes to Marine One before President Donald Trump leaves the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

White House staff members carry boxes to Marine One before President Donald Trump leaves the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

White House staff members carry boxes to Marine One before President Donald Trump leaves the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

The White House was plunged mostly in darkness on Wednesday morning as the Trumps moved out ahead of Biden's inauguration

The White House was plunged mostly in darkness on Wednesday morning as the Trumps moved out ahead of Biden's inauguration  

The only lights on were in the Residence and parts of the West Wing, where movers were seen loading up trucks

The only lights on were in the Residence and parts of the West Wing, where movers were seen loading up trucks


Some staffers were seen working at the White House before the sun rose on Wednesday morning

Some staffers were seen working at the White House before the sun rose on Wednesday morning 

The empty office of the White House press secretary is empty in the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington

The empty office of the White House press secretary is empty in the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington

In the Lower Press Office, staffers left behind magazines with Trump on the cover

In the Lower Press Office, staffers left behind magazines with Trump on the cover 

A keyboard and mouse are wrapped in plastic waiting for the new Press Secretary on Wednesday morning

A keyboard and mouse are wrapped in plastic waiting for the new Press Secretary on Wednesday morning 

A newspaper addressed to White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany lies on a table in an empty Upper Press Office area prior to U.S. President Donald Trump's departure ahead of the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Joe Biden

A newspaper addressed to White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany lies on a table in an empty Upper Press Office area prior to U.S. President Donald Trump's departure ahead of the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Joe Biden

The office of the White House press secretary sits empty prior to U.S. President Donald Trump's departure ahead of the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Joe Biden, in Washington, U.S. January 20, 2021

The office of the White House press secretary sits empty prior to U.S. President Donald Trump's departure ahead of the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Joe Biden, in Washington, U.S. January 20, 2021

 

In place: The red carpet is laid down at the steps to Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews for the flight to Mar-a-Lago

In place: The red carpet is laid down at the steps to Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews for the flight to Mar-a-Lago

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