Watch CBS News

President Biden takes office, moving quickly to implement agenda

get the free app
  • link copied
Biden sets tone for new administration with call for unity 01:40

Washington — Joseph R. Biden, Jr., was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, urging a bitterly divided country to come together at a perilous time in American history while moving quickly to begin implementing his agenda.

"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."

In the hours after his address, the new president took action to target some of former President Donald Trump's most controversial initiatives and bolster the federal government's response to the coronavirus pandemic. Seated behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, wearing a mask, Mr. Biden signed a stack of executive orders and actions on immigration, climate change, COVID-19, racial equality and more. 

Among his first actions were orders to mandate the wearing of masks on all federal property, rejoin the Paris climate accord and boost federal support for underserved communities.

"I think some of the things we're going to be doing are going to be bold and vital, and there's no time to start like today," he told reporters. 

After the flurry of executive action, incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki held her first press briefing. "I have deep respect for the role of a free an independent press in our democracy and for the role all of you play," she told reporters.

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 earlier in the day 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.

Instead of inaugural balls, Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris opted for a 90-minute televised special called "Celebrating America" where they both spoke. Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton appeared as well. The special was live on all broadcast networks, and was hosted by Tom Hanks and featured performances by Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, John Legend and more. Katy Perry capped off the night with "Firework" before a fireworks display that Mr. Biden and first lady Jill Biden watched from the White House and Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff watched from the National Mall. 

Shortly before noon, when he officially became president, Mr. Biden took the oath of office, administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Minutes earlier, Harris was 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 pandemic-era 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.

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.

Mr. 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.

Biden Inauguration
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch fireworks from the White House, Wednesday, January 20, 2021, in Washington. Evan Vucci / AP

Cindy McCain says Joe Biden is "absolutely ready" to be president

Cindy McCain touts Biden as "ready" for presidency 05:09

Cindy McCain was introduced to her husband, the late Senator John McCain, by now first lady Jill Biden. "I'm just so grateful that they did introduce me because, you know, love of my life," McCain told CBS "Evening News" anchor and managing editor Norah O'Donnell.  

Still, it was a surprise when the lifelong Republican endorsed Joe Biden for president — Arizona has a long history as a red state, with only one other Democratic presidential candidate winning there since 1948. McCain said she hopes her endorsement helped Mr. Biden win the White House. 

"I mean, that's why I did it. it. But I also think it was a change in the country. We saw people here, especially suburban people really frustrated with what was going on," she said. "And they stepped across the line like I did. And we voted together on this to make sure — to do it for what was right for our children and for our grandchildren." 

Read more Cindy McCain says Joe Biden is "absolutely ready" to be president.


Katy Perry closes out concert with fireworks show

 After a rendition of Bill Withers' hit "Lovely Day" from Demi Lovato and an appearance by the Bidens from the White House balcony, Katy Perry gave the final performance of the night. She sang her hit "Firework" as a fireworks show lit up Washington, D.C. 

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden watched the display from the White House balcony, while Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff watched from the National Mall.

Biden Inauguration
Fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument in Washington, as seen from Arlington, Va., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, as part of the festivities after President Joe Biden was inaugurated today. Cliff Owen / AP
By Caroline Linton

3 former presidents congratulate Biden and praise "peaceful transfer of power"

Former presidents call for unity, peaceful transition of power on Inauguration Day 03:01

Former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush recorded a message at Arlington National Cemetery celebrating the importance of the "peaceful transfer of power." 

"I think the fact that the three of us are standing here talking about a peaceful transfer of power speaks to the institutional integrity of our country," Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Clinton said the country is trying to "come back to normalcy" and "trying to do what we do best, trying to create a more perfect union. It's an exciting time."

Mr. Obama touted the importance of "not just listening to folks we agree with but also folks we don't." He said one of the "fondest moments" of his inauguration was when he met with Mr. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush. Former President Trump and former first lady Melania Trump did not meet with President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden ahead of the inauguration. 

By Caroline Linton

John Legend, Tim McGraw and Tyler Hubbard perform

John Legend sang and played on the piano the James Brown song "It's a New Day" before a tribute to healthcare workers that featured a recorded message from Sandra Lindsay, the New York City nurse who was the first person in America to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

"Our nurses care for thousands of people daily," Lindsay said. "We're often the last people to hold their hands. It has taken a toll of so many on the frontlines."

Before Linsday spoke, Mr. Biden said "this crisis has shown the nation we literally could not survive without you." 

Tim McGraw and Tyler Hubbard performed "Undivided," which Hubbard said he wrote while he was quarantined with COVID-1, as a tribute to healthcare workers. "This song is a message of unity and faith, stirred my soul," McGraw said. 

By Caroline Linton

Harris says Americans have the "courage to see beyond crisis"

Vice President Kamala Harris spoke for the first time after her swearing-in ceremony earlier Wednesday, highlighting "American aspiration" and "the courage to see beyond crisis."

She called it an "honor" to be there and "to stand on the shoulders of those who came before. To speak tonight as your vice president."

In keeping with the optimistic theme, she said, "in many ways, this embodies our character as a nation" and "even in dark times, we not only dream, we do." 

"We are bold, fearless, and ambitious," she said. "We are undaunted in our belief that we shall overcome, that we shall rise up. This is American aspiration."

By Caroline Linton

Justin Timberlake, Ant Clemons and Foo Fighters perform

Musical performances continued after President Joe Biden spoke from the Lincoln Memorial. Justin Timberlake and Ant Clemons performed their song "Better Days."

They were followed by the Foo Fighters, who dedicated their performance of "Times Like These" to "our unshakeable teachers."

Lin-Manuel Miranda read "Make Hope and History Rhyme" by Seamus Heaney, a poet often cited by Mr. Biden.

By Caroline Linton

"I will give my all to you," Biden says in brief speech

President Joe Biden gave a brief speech by the Lincoln Memorial, calling on Americans to live up to the moment. 

America's story depends not on any one person, but on every American, he said. Unity is the only way to get through darkness, Mr. Biden added. 

There are times in the nation's history when Americans need to do that much more for their country, Mr. Biden said. This is one of those times.

"Will we meet the moment like our forebearers have? I believe we must, and I believe we will," he said. 

The new president made a promise: "I will give my all to you." 

By Kathryn Watson

Bruce Springsteen kicks off Biden inauguration primetime special "Celebrating America"

Bruce Springsteen opened up the 90-minute special "Celebrating America," hosted by Tom Hanks. Springsteen performed "Land of Hope and Dreams" with the Lincoln Memorial behind him.

Biden Inauguration Celebrating America Event
In this image from video, Bruce Springsteen performs during the Celebrating America event on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, following the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States. Biden Inaugural Committee via AP

Jon Bon Jovi performed "Here Comes the Sun" from a Miami boardwalk.

President Biden will speak later at the Lincoln Memorial.

By Caroline Linton

Here's what Biden is looking to accomplish with Democrats in Congress

Here's what Biden is looking to accomplish with Democrats in Congress 07:27

President Joe Biden faces challenges getting his priorities through Congress with a closely divided Senate. CBS News political contributor and Democratic strategist Lynda Tran joins CBSN's "Red & Blue" to discuss how President Biden aims to bring Congress together and the prospects for another COVID-19 relief bill.


White House press secretary Jen Psaki holds first briefing

New White House press secretary Jen Psaki gives first press briefing 30:48

White House press secretary Jen Psaki held her first press briefing Wednesday evening, saying President Joe Biden wants to bring truth and transparency back to the White House. 

"I have deep respect for the role of a free an independent press in our democracy and for the role all of you play," Psaki said. She added that there will certainly be times when the White House press corps and the White House press office disagree. 

Mr. Biden's first call with a foreign leader will be with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Psaki didn't say whether Mr. Biden will be speaking with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but did say he intends to speak with America's allies in his early calls. 

Psaki said getting Mr. Biden's team confirmed by the Senate is "front-and-center" for Mr. Biden, prioritizing national security positions. Psaki also said Mr. Biden will be "quite involved" in COVID relief negotiations with Capitol Hill.

Asked if Mr. Biden believes Mr. Trump needs to be held accountable for the Capitol riots, Psaki said he's "going to leave it to members of Congress" to decide what the timeline and punishments will be for the former president. 

Psaki said she has no details on a first foreign trip for the president at this point in time. 

By Kathryn Watson

Biden's first Cabinet nominee confirmed

The Senate voted to confirm Avril Haines to be director of national intelligence on Wednesday evening, making her the first of President Biden's Cabinet nominees to be confirmed. Haines was approved by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 84 to 10.

The Senate adjourned for the night after confirming Haines, and will reconvene at 12 p.m. on Thursday.  

"Avril Haines was the right choice for Director of National Intelligence. We appreciate the bipartisan cooperation to get her confirmed tonight, and we hope there will be a lot more of it because the nation is in crisis and we need President Biden's team in place as quickly as possible," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a speech on the Senate floor ahead of the vote that it was "appropriate" that Haines would be the first nominee confirmed by the Senate.

"I believe she is firmly committed to rebuilding the office of the Director of National Intelligence," Warner said, an implicit rebuke of the office under former President Trump. He said morale within the intelligence community had been damaged as officials had "seen many of their leaders fired for simply doing the right thing: speaking truth to power."

Read more here.

By Grace Segers

Biden swears in appointees via videoconference

President Biden held a swearing-in ceremony for his appointees through a videoconference Wednesday evening. Appointees do not need to be confirmed by the Senate. 

Mr. Biden said this administration has an opportunity and privilege to impact people around the world. He said he expects honesty and dignity. 

The new commander-in-chief thanked the families of his appointees since the administration officials will be working long hours. 

The president spoke of the importance of containing the COVID-19 pandemic and distributing the vaccine, as well as of rescuing the economy and improving it. 

The president also promised that if he hears an appointee treat another colleague with disrespect or talk down to someone, he will fire that person on the spot. That's in contrast with Mr. Trump's approach, who sometimes believed the best ideas came from division and entertained factions among his staff. 

"If you're ever working with me and I hear you treated another colleague with disrespect — talk down to someone — I promise I will fire you on the spot. On the spot," Mr. Biden said. 

Mr. Biden said he is not concerned about his nominees being confirmed by the Senate. 

By Kathryn Watson

Senate to vote on confirming Avril Haines as director of national intelligence

The Senate will vote this evening on whether to confirm Avril Haines as director of national intelligence, the first confirmation vote for a Biden nominee. Republican Senator Tom Cotton had previously objected to holding the vote on Haines' nomination quickly, but announced in a speech on the Senate floor that he was lifting his objection.

"I was the last person to object to holding that vote. I no longer object," Cotton said. He had initially objected to the vote because he was unclear on whether Haines wanted to reopen investigations into detention and interrogation programs from the early 2000s.

"She clarified in the private setting that we had that she had no intention to open up those investigations and expose operations officers inside the CIA to criminal prosecution or adverse employment action, or even holding it against them and potential future promotions or placements," Cotton said.

Haines is all but guaranteed to be confirmed, as Democrats now control the Senate.

By Grace Segers

Biden signs first executive actions on climate, mask mandate and federal aid

Biden wastes no time getting to work on his legislative agenda, but there's a lot of work to be done 09:11

Seated behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, the president signed three executive actions in the presence of reporters — implementing a mask mandate on federal property, increasing support for underserved communities, and rejoining the Paris climate accord. 

"I think some of the things we're going to be doing are going to be bold and vital, and there's no time to start like today," he told reporters. 

A stack of other orders was on the desk beside him. He was expected to sign 17 in total on Wednesday night, dealing with immigration, racial inequality, the pandemic and more.

Read more here.


New Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer outlines priorities for Democrats

New Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in remarks on the Senate floor that lawmakers would get to work on implementing the "lengthy agenda" set by Mr. Biden, such as addressing the coronavirus pandemic.

"Today, the threat to our democracy from the presidency itself has ended, but the challenges we face as a nation remain," Schumer said. He added that this would be a "busy and consequential period for the United States Senate." 

Schumer said the Senate would work differently under a Democratic majority, implicitly drawing a contrast with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who as majority leader blocked several bills passed in the House from moving forward in the Senate.

"This Senate will legislate. It will be active, responsive, energetic and bold," Schumer said. He reached out to his Republican colleagues, saying he would aim to legislate on a bipartisan basis when possible, and that "the Senate works best when we work together."

However, in his first speech as minority leader, McConnell indicated he did not believe Democrats had a mandate, given their narrow majority in the Senate.

"Our country deserves both sides and both parties to find common ground for the common good where we can," McConnell said.

By Grace Segers

Biden says Trump's letter was "very generous"

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office after signing his first executive actions, Mr. Biden said the letter left for him by the former president before departing the White House was "very generous." 

"The president wrote a very generous letter," Mr. Biden, wearing a mask, said. "Because it was private, I will not talk about it until I talk to him."

Mr. Trump never met with Mr. Biden at the White House before the inauguration, and the two did not speak. The former president did, however, leave him a note, keeping with a tradition set by modern presidents.

By Melissa Quinn

Harris swears in Ossoff, Warnock and Padilla, giving Democrats control of Senate

Harris returned to the Capitol for the first time as vice president on Wednesday to administer the oath of office for Democratic Senators Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla, in her capacity as president of the Senate. With the swearing-in of these three senators, Democrats now hold a narrow majority in the Senate of 50-50, with Harris breaking any tie.

Ossoff and Warnock won their runoff elections in Georgia earlier this month, and Padilla was appointed by California Governor Gavin Newsom to replace Harris in the Senate.

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont was sworn in as president pro tempore of the Senate, becoming third in line to the presidency.

Read more here.

By Grace Segers

Biden enters White House for first time as president

After a brief military escort to Pennsylvania Avenue, the new president and first lady stepped out of the presidential motorcade and walked to the front of the White House with members of their family. 

On the way, Mr. Biden jogged over to the media to greet them, before joining his family on the walk inside. He also greeted D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

The president waved to the small number of vetted supporters on the sidelines before walking down the North Lawn driveway and entering the White House for the first time as president.

By Kathryn Watson

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.

By Stefan Becket

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."

By Melissa Quinn

Amanda Gorman reads "The Hill We Climb" at Biden's inauguration

Watch: Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman recites poem at Biden's inauguration 06:25

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.

By Zoe Christen Jones

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.

By Kathryn Watson

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.

By Grace Segers

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.

By Melissa Quinn

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 within minutes of Mr. Biden becoming president.

By Stefan Becket

Biden declares "democracy has prevailed," urging unity in inaugural address

Joe Biden's inauguration address: "This is America's day" 22:16

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 peril and significant possibilities," Mr. Biden said.

The president thanked his "predecessors of both parties for their presence here today," although his immediate predecessor Mr. Trump was absent.

Mr. Biden highlighted the struggles that the country must still overcome, including the coronavirus pandemic, domestic terrorism, white supremacy and racial injustice.

"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. Unity," he said. He quoted President Abraham Lincoln, whose "whole soul" was dedicated to "bringing America together." 

"Today on this January day, my whole soul is in this: bringing America together. Uniting our people. Uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause," Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Biden acknowledged that it may seem difficult to achieve unity in such a divided nation, perhaps a tacit acknowledgment of the Republicans in Congress who objected to the Electoral College results in an effort to overturn the election.

"I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days. I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new," Mr. Biden said. "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." 

Mr. Biden also reached out to supporters of Mr. Trump, urging them to "hear me out."

"Hear me out, as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart. If we still disagree, so be it. That's democracy. That's America. The right to dissent peaceably within the guardrails of our Republic is perhaps this nation's greatest strength," Mr. Biden said. "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. And I promise you, I fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did."

Mr. Biden also said that he understood those who "view the future with fear and trepidation," but urged Americans to try to connect with those who disagree with them.

"We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal," he said, adding that "we must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation, one nation."

Mr. Biden sought to reassure the American public, saying "we will get through this together," and also briefly addressed foreign audiences watching his speech.

"America has been tested. And we've come out stronger for it. We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again. Not to meet yesterday's challenges, but today's and tomorrow's challenges," Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Biden also acknowledged the 400,000 Americans lost to the coronavirus pandemic, leading the audience in a "silent prayer" honoring the victims and their families.

"I promise you, we will be judged — you and I — for how we resolve these cascading crises of our era," he said.

He closed his speech with a "sacred oath," promising to defend the Constitution, tell the truth and lead the people without selfishness, an implicit rebuke to Mr. Trump.

"I will always level with you. I will defend the Constitution. I will defend our democracy. I will defend America," Mr. Biden said. "With purpose and resolve, we turn to those tasks of our time, sustained by faith, driven by conviction, and devoted to each other and the country that we love with all our hearts."

By Grace Segers

Biden officially sworn into office as 46th president

Watch: Joe Biden sworn in as 46th president of the United States 02:29

At 11:49 a.m., Joe Biden was sworn into office by Chief Justice John Roberts. 

His wife, Second Lady Jill Biden, held up a family Bible for him. Mr. Biden pledged to "faithfully execute" the office of the United States, and "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution to the best of my ability, so help me God."

Mr. Biden officially becomes president at noon.

Ashley Biden and Hunter Biden also accompanied Mr. Biden on stage. 

By Kathryn Watson

Harris takes the oath of office, making history as vice president

Watch: Kamala Harris sworn in as vice president 02:33

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor administered the oath of office for Harris. With her hand on the Bible held by her husband, Harris swore to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

Harris is the first woman vice president, as well as the first Black and Asian-American vice president.

By Grace Segers

Lady Gaga performs national anthem

Clutching a gold microphone, Lady Gaga sang the "Star-Spangled Banner" at the lectern where Mr. Biden will deliver his remarks:

By Stefan Becket

Biden to be sworn in using family Bible

Mr. Biden will be sworn in using a Bible that has been in his family since 1893 and was used during his swearing-in as vice president in 2009 and 2013, a source familiar with the matter tells CBS News. It was also used each time he was sworn in as a U.S. senator. It is five inches thick, with a Celtic cross on the cover.

The president-elect's late son Beau Biden also used the Bible for his own swearing-in ceremony as attorney general of Delaware, and helped carry the Bible to his father's 2013 ceremony.

By Nikole Killion

Inaugural ceremony gets underway on Capitol steps

As lawmakers and guests took their seats on the platform on the West Front of the Capitol, Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar and Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, the co-chairs of the committee in charge of organizing the ceremony, kicked off proceedings with remarks stressing the gravity of the moment and the importance of a peaceful transfer of power.

By Stefan Becket

Pence arrives at Capitol for swearing-in ceremony

Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence have arrived at the Capitol for the swearing-in ceremony, proceeding down the Capitol steps to take their seats close to the lectern where Mr. Biden will deliver his inaugural address. 

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton approached Pence to shake hands soon after he arrived.

Pence declined to attend Mr. Trump's send-off at Joint Base Andrews earlier in the day, with an aide saying it would conflict with his commitment to attend the inauguration.

By Stefan Becket

Trump lands in Florida, completing final Air Force One ride as president

Mr. Trump landed at Palm Beach International Airport at 10:54 a.m., completing his final ride aboard Air Force One as president. 

Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump, Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Tiffany Trump and her fiance, and Barron Trump were all on board. Mr. Trump spent the flight with his family, according to pool reporters. 

Mr. Trump will be spending his days at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. 

By Kathryn Watson

Small number of National Guard troops withheld from inauguration duty

A defense official tells CBS News that a small number of additional National Guard troops have been held out of inauguration security as a result of Secret Service and FBI screening. The number of additional guardsmen withheld from security is in the single digits, the official said.

It appears that none of them were held due to possible links to extremist groups, but were held for other reasons such as outstanding legal problems. On Tuesday, two guardsmen were held out for possible extremist links, as well as 10 guardsmen for other reasons. As of Wednesday, the number held out for possible extremist links was still two, but the number held out for other reasons is closer to 20.

By Grace Segers

Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman, who led mob from Senate, escorts Harris

U.S. Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman, who led a mob of Mr. Trump's supporters away from the Senate floor during the January 6 riots, escorted Harris up the Capitol steps as she and Mr. Biden arrived for the inauguration.

Goodman has been named the acting deputy House sergeant at arms.

By Melissa Quinn

Biden and Harris arrive at the Capitol

Biden Inauguration
Congressional members and guests arrive for the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. Patrick Semansky / AP

The incoming president and vice president have arrived at the Capitol for their swearing-in ceremony, entering the building's East Front roughly 45 minutes before the proceedings are set to begin.

Lawmakers and guests are filing in to seating areas on the West Front of the Capitol, where Mr. Biden will deliver his inaugural address.

By Stefan Becket

Obama to Biden: "This is your time"

Former President Barack Obama extended congratulations to his former vice president ahead of his swearing-in.

"Congratulations to my friend, President @JoeBiden! This is your time," Mr. Obama tweeted.

Mr. Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama will be among the former presidents in attendance at Mr. Biden's inauguration. They will also attend the wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery later this afternoon.

By Melissa Quinn

Biden's national security team to begin work before inauguration

Mr. Biden's incoming staff on the National Security Council will start working at 10 a.m. when the outgoing Trump team hands off their duties, incoming press secretary Jen Psaki confirms to CBS News. These officials do not require Senate confirmation and will immediately be at their posts. 

Mr. Biden will be the first commander in chief in modern history to begin his presidency without a single Cabinet secretary confirmed by the Senate to run federal agencies, and no commitment from the Senate on a date for their confirmation. That includes the 4th and 5th in line for the presidency — the secretaries of state and treasury, respectively.

By Margaret Brennan

Trump left Biden a note in Oval Office

The president left a note for Mr. Biden in the Oval Office, according to deputy White House press secretary Judd Deere.

It's unclear what the note said, but it is a modern tradition for an outgoing president to leave a message for his successor.

Vice President Mike Pence also left a letter for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the vice president's desk in the West Wing, a senior administration official confirms to CBS News.

By Sara Cook

Trump wishes "new administration" well in final remarks as president

Trump defends record and says "we will be back" in farewell speech 09:17

In his final public remarks as the 45th president of the United States, Mr. Trump went off-script and declined to mention Mr. Biden or Harris by name and title, as was in his prepared remarks. Instead, Mr. Trump offered well wishes to the "new administration" while saying he hoped to be back "in some form." 

"I wish the new administration great luck and great success," Mr. Trump told a crowd of supporters assembled at Joint Base Andrews to see him off. "I think they'll have great success. They have the foundation to do something really spectacular."

Instead of attending Mr. Biden's inauguration, Mr. Trump and first lady Melania Trump are leaving Washington early, marking the first time in more than 150 years the outgoing president has skipped his successor's swearing-in.

Several hundred people assembled at Joint Base Andrews near Air Force One for the remarks, including Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Lara Trump and Tiffany Trump. As the president delivered his remarks, the crowd chanted, "Thank you, Trump."

U.S. President Trump departs the White House
President Trump speaks next to first lady Melania Trump as he departs from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on January 20, 2021. CARLOS BARRIA / REUTERS

Mr. Trump declared that his was "not a regular administration," and thanked his family, Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence. 

In her own brief remarks at Mr. Trump's urging, Melania Trump said "being your first lady was my greatest honor."

"Thank you for your love and your support. You will be in my thoughts and prayers," she said.
"God bless you all, God bless your families and God bless this beautiful nation."

Mr. Trump highlighted the work of his administration, including the development and distribution of coronavirus vaccines through Operation Warp Speed. Mr. Trump spoke of the pandemic as if it was in the past, saying, "as bad as the pandemic was," as 400,000 Americans and counting have died. 

"We have worked hard. We left it all, as the athletes would say, we left it all on the field," Mr. Trump said. "Goodbye. We love you. We will be back in some form."

The president urged the American people to remember the work of his administration amid future economic gains, saying "remember us."

"I hope they don't raise your taxes. But if they do, I told you so," he said of the incoming Biden administration.

Mr. Trump closed with brief well-wishes to his supporters, saying, "Have a good life. We will see you soon."

Kathryn Watson and Melissa Quinn


Biden attending Mass with congressional leaders before inauguration

Mr. Biden is attending Mass on Wednesday morning at St. Matthew's Cathedral, a historic church just blocks from the White House. He will be joined by the top four congressional leaders: incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Mr. Biden is only the second Catholic president to take office, after President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy's funeral service was held at St. Matthew's in 1963, and Pope Francis visited the church in 2015.

By Grace Segers

Trump leaves White House on Marine One for last time

Outgoing President Trump waves as he boards Marine One at the White House in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2021. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

The president exited the White House and boarded Marine One on the South Lawn for a brief flight to Joint Base Andrews, where he will address a crowd of several hundred supporters before flying to Florida on Air Force One. 

Mr. Trump stopped to speak with reporters assembled on the South Lawn, which he has seldom done since the election.

Marine One passed by the Washington Monument, which is closed to the public, and the U.S. Capitol building, which a mob of Mr. Trump supporters stormed January 6, on the way to Joint Base Andrews.

The president told reporters it has been a "great honor" and "honor of a lifetime." Mr. Trump said he wanted to walk over to say goodbye, but added that hopefully it would not be a long goodbye, according to pool reporters. 

By Stefan Becket

Trump reverses 2017 executive order aimed at "draining the swamp"

Just after 1 a.m. on January 20, the White House announced Mr. Trump issued an executive order revoking one of his first actions as president that aimed to fulfill his campaign pledge to "drain the swamp," releasing executive branch appointees from a slew of ethics requirements — including a lobbying ban — just before he leaves office.

Issued January 28, 2017, the now-revoked executive order required aides to sign an ethics pledge in which they committed not to lobby their respective agencies up to five years after leaving government or engage in activity on behalf of a foreign entity.

The pledge also barred political appointees from participating in any matter involving their former employers or clients for a period of two years from their date of appointment. Those who were registered lobbyists within two years prior to joining the Trump administration vowed not to participate in any matter on which they lobbied for a two-year span.

The executive order from Mr. Trump is one of his final acts before leaving office.

"Executive Order 13770 of January 28, 2017, 'Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees,' is hereby revoked, effective at noon January 20, 2021.  Employees and former employees subject to the commitments in Executive Order 13770 will not be subject to those commitments after noon January 20, 2021," the order states.

By Melissa Quinn

Biden's schedule on Inauguration Day

Mr. Biden, Harris, incoming first lady Jill Biden and incoming second gentleman Douglas Emhoff are beginning the day with a church service at Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. They'll be joined by all four congressional leaders at the first event of a busy Inauguration Day.

Here's a look at the schedule for the president-elect and vice president-elect for the rest of the day:

  • 8:45 a.m.: Church service at St. Matthew the Apostle

  • 10:30 a.m.: Arrive at the Capitol

  • 11:15 a.m.: Participate in swearing-in ceremony on the West Front of the Capitol

  • 12 p.m.: Mr. Biden and Harris are sworn into office, and the president delivers his inaugural address

  • 1:40 p.m.: Mr. Biden and Harris review military troops from the East Front of the Capitol

  • 2:25 p.m.: Wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery

  • 3:15 p.m.: Mr. Biden and Harris receive a presidential escort to the White House

  • 5:15 p.m.: Mr. Biden signs executive orders and actions

  • 5:45 p.m.: Mr. Biden swears in presidential appointees in virtual ceremony

  • 7 p.m.: White House press secretary Jen Psaki holds first press briefing

  • 8:48 p.m.: Participate in "Celebrate America" inaugural ceremony

  • 9:55 p.m.: Appear on Blue Room balcony at the White House

By Stefan Becket

Biden to sign Day 1 orders to reverse Trump immigration policies

Biden intends to invoke his executive authority during his first day in office to start dismantling some of the Trump administration's immigration policy changes, including its pre-pandemic travel restrictions on several majority Muslim countries, changes to the Census and efforts to end protections for so-called "Dreamers."

Mr. Biden plans to sign 17 executive orders — including several immigration-related directives — shortly after being sworn in on Wednesday afternoon, according to top incoming White House officials. The spate of orders is the start of the incoming Democratic administration's efforts to reverse many of the more than 400 immigration changes President Trump made without Congress.

"President-elect Biden is taking historic action on day one to advance his agenda," said incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who briefed reporters late Tuesday.

One memo will order the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to take "all appropriate actions" to safeguard the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that offers works permits and deportation relief to more than 640,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Mr. Trump's attempts to suspend DACA were all blocked in court, but a federal judge in Texas has yet to rule on a request by Republican attorneys general who the program declared unlawful.

Another executive directive will revoke Mr. Trump's travel and immigration restrictions on a group of 13 countries, most of which are predominantly Muslim or African. The order will instruct the State Department to process visa applications from the 13 countries and to develop a plan to "remedy the harms caused by the bans."

Read more here.

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez

Trump issues slew of pardons and commutations in final hours

On his way out the door, President Trump pardoned 73 people, including his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and commuted the sentences of 70 others. The White House announced the last-minute flurry of pardons and commutations early on Wednesday, Mr. Trump's last day in office.

No members of the president's family — including Mr. Trump himself — were on the list. There was considerable speculation in the waning days of his term over whether he would issue presumptive pardons for himself, any of his children or son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Also missing from the list — Rudy Giuliani — Mr. Trump's personal attorney, who led legal efforts to prove false claims that Mr. Trump won the presidential election over Joe Biden.

Among others getting pardons were former top GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy and rapper Lil Wayne.

Bannon was indicted in August for allegedly defrauding donors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars with a fundraising campaign to build a wall along the southern border, known as the "We build the wall" campaign. The scheme raised $25 million, and Bannon was accused of taking $1 million to cover personal expenses and pay another person accused in the scheme.

Read more here.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.