Inauguration day in the US

Oliver Ralph

Hello, and welcome to the FT’s US presidential inauguration live blog.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are preparing to take their oaths of office, but this will be a transfer of power like no other. For at least the fourth time in history, the sitting president will be absent from his successor’s planned inauguration. And the huge crowds usually in Washington will be absent because of Covid-19 restrictions and tight security.

Over the next few hours we’ll keep you up to date with the latest developments, from Mr Biden’s inauguration speech to the whereabouts of Donald Trump and the possible reaction on the streets of US cities.

We’ll have analysis throughout the day from FT commentators Peter Spiegel, Rana Faroohar and Ed Luce. They’ll be dissecting Mr Biden’s speech, and explaining what it means for the US and the rest of the world.

Trump pardons ex-adviser Steve Bannon and dozens more

Demetri Sevastopulo

Donald Trump departed the White House early on Wednesday morning, hours after pardoning Steve Bannon, his former strategist, and dozens others ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th US president.

The outgoing president and his wife Melania lifted off from the White House South Lawn at 8.18am on the Marine One presidential helicopter, as they prepared to return to Florida where the couple will reside.

Just days after his historic second impeachment for inciting a mob that stormed the US Capitol on January 6, Mr Trump pardoned Mr Bannon, one of the most divisive and polarising people in his political orbit. The pardon was one of dozens issued at the last minute for former politicians, people convicted of drug offences, and the rapper Lil Wayne.

Mr Bannon was charged last year with defrauding hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters who donated to a crowdfunding campaign to build the wall on the US-Mexico border that Mr Trump touted in the 2016 race. Mr Bannon had pleaded not guilty and was released on bail awaiting trial.

Mr Trump did not issue pre-emptive pardons for himself or any of his family members, an idea he had floated in conversations with staff after losing the November election. Most constitutional scholars said he could not pardon himself, but the theory has never been tested in court.

Read more here

Here's what to expect at Biden's inauguration

Mamta Badkar

Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday will be a scaled-down largely virtual affair as Americans are urged to stay away from Washington.

The transfer of power was already set to be an atypical affair with Donald Trump snubbing the inauguration after repeatedly trying to challenge election results. But the fortification of Washington following this month's attack on the US Capitol and an effort to reduce crowding because of the deadly coronavirus pandemic means that this will be an inauguration unlike any we have seen in modern times.

So what can we expect today? While the exact start time hasn't been announced, the event is expected to kick off around 11am ET. While the swearing-in, troop review and military escort will take place in-person, the bulk of the celebrations will occur virtually and there will be no official inaugural ball.

- The proceedings will begin with an invocation read by Rev. Leo J. O'Donovan. Andrea Hall, a Georgia fire captain will recite the Pledge of Allegiance, while Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem. Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet, will read her work "The Hill We Climb", a poem about national unity, and Jennifer Lopez will perform.

- Around noon, chief justice John Roberts will administer the oath of office to Mr Biden on the West Front of the Capitol. Kamala Harris, the first black and first Indian-American to serve as vice president, will be sworn in by Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor.

- Mr Biden will deliver his inaugural address in which he is expected to lay out his plan to fight the pandemic and deliver a message of healing and unity.

- After the ceremony, Mr Biden and Ms Harris and their spouses will participate in a Pass in Review. The longstanding tradition involves a review of the military troops and reflects a peaceful transfer of power to the new commander-in-chief.

- Mr Biden and Dr Jill Biden will lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with Ms Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff. They will be accompanied by President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, and President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton.

- Mr Biden will then receive a Presidential Escort from 15th Street to the White House.

- The virtual "Parade Across America" featuring performances from communities across the country will begin after Mr Biden enters the White House.

- At 8:30pm ET Tom Hanks will host a prime-time programme featuring remarks by Mr Biden and Ms Harris. The star-studded televised special will also feature musical performances by artists like Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake, John Legend and Demi Lovato. Actors Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington will also participate

Peter Spiegel, US managing editor

In the waning weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency, Washington was awash with rumours that the outgoing commander-in-chief would organise some kind of counter-programming to Joe Biden’s inauguration today, including the possibility that he’d announce a 2024 bid for the White House to upstage the incoming administration.

But after issuing dozens of late-night pardons, Mr Trump’s departure was a comparatively low-key affair. He made a few brief remarks to reporters as he walked out of the White House for the last time and gave an improvised address to a small group of reporters at Andrews air force base before flying to Florida to watch his time in office tick away from afar.

There had been much hand-wringing about what Mr Trump might say as he departed. But in the end, there was no fly-over or other major martial flourishes save a brief 21-gun salute. Even the remarks themselves were a standard recitation of his accomplishments, and included an uncharacteristic salute to his successor, whom he wished “great luck and great success” and predicted would accomplish much.

He made a vague reference to coming “back in some form”, but there was no promise of another run for the presidency or anything else overtly partisan. A whimper, not a bang.

Trump leaves a note for Biden at White House

Demetri Sevastopulo

Although Donald Trump has refused to abide by many of the norms of transferring power, like attending the inauguration or conceding defeat until the very end, he has honoured one tradition: leaving a note for his successor.

A Trump administration official said the outgoing president had written a letter that was left in the White House for Joe Biden, but did not elaborate on its content.

Security-tight Washington sets stage for strangest inauguration in history

Katrina Manson

Washington DC woke up on Wednesday to its strangest inauguration day in history.

Thousands of armed National Guard troops have poured into the city to protect the peaceful transfer of power in a capital suffering from a double lockdown due to coronavirus and security threats.

In the wake of the deadly storming of the US Capitol, federal agencies have spent hours combing the internet for new threats, finding several small-scale fringe groups hankering for violence, according to people familiar with a US Secret Service bulletin put out last week.

The US Army has authorised increasing numbers of troops to guard the inauguration, calling up 25,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen in recent days.

Their presence stretches out far beyond the Capitol grounds and expansive perimeter fence. Ten blocks away at Lincoln Park, a popular spot for local families in the Capitol Hill area, National Guard troops laid out their riot gear in rows among the trees, statues and dog walkers.

Several metro stations have closed in the city centre and traffic has been redirected or faced road blocks and tactical vehicles blocking the way.

In 30 states, more than 6,000 National Guard troops are standing guard over state capital buildings and key infrastructure as concerns over the threats have risen.

The top National Guard officer General Daniel Hokanson promised on the eve of inauguration that “we have additional capability if and when needed”.

The weaponised contingent that has taken up residence throughout the halls of the US Capitol, armed with assault rifles and pistols, stands in stark contrast to prolonged delays responding to last week’s mob assault. National Guard troops took nearly four hours to arrive at the fray, even after the US Capitol Police chief asked for help in an urgent call after feeble barricades were breached. Five people died, including a US Capitol Police officer.

But in a sign of the stark divide through US society, two other Capitol Police officers who have since been suspended were seen posing with protesters or permitting them entry. One National Guard soldier from next-door state Virginia was also arrested for participating in the events.

“Extremism is not tolerated in any branch of the United States military,” Gen Hokanson said on Tuesday.

But federal agencies that have investigated the National Guard personnel who have access to the very areas that are at highest risk found more potential problems. On Tuesday, Gen Hokanson also confirmed that 12 had been removed from their tasks -- including two who were sent home from inauguration duty in Washington for “inappropriate comments or texts”.

If something does go wrong after midday it will put a new team at the Pentagon to the test. From noon, David Norquist, the deputy defence secretary will assume an interim role as acting secretary of defence because Joe Biden's own pick for defence secretary has yet to be confirmed. The secretary of the army, who authorises National Guard troops in Washington, will also change at noon.

Global stocks rise as US transfers power to Biden team

Naomi Rovnick

US stock markets rallied ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, propelled by optimism that the president-elect’s $1.9tn stimulus spending plan could help insulate the global economy from the damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

The benchmark S&P 500 index gained 0.7 per cent in early dealings, after being pushed higher on Tuesday by a pledge from Treasury secretary nominee Janet Yellen to “act big” on fiscal stimulus.

The technology-focused Nasdaq Composite rose 1.4 per cent to a fresh record, boosted by a 15 per cent rise for Netflix shares after the streaming service passed 200m subscribers in its latest earnings update and promised share buybacks. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies’ shares added 1.3 per cent.

In Europe, the benchmark Stoxx 600 equity index rose 0.7 per cent and Germany’s Xetra Dax gained 0.8 per cent, while the UK’s FTSE 100 added 0.1 per cent.

Biden attends mass with congressional leaders

Matthew Rocco

Joe Biden is attending a private mass this morning with congressional leaders, continuing an inauguration day tradition for the incoming president.

The service at the Cathedral of St Matthew the Apostle is the only event on Mr Biden’s schedule before he is due to travel to the Capitol for the swearing-in ceremony.

Mr Biden was joined at mass by his family, vice president-elect Kamala Harris and her family, and congressional leaders including Republicans Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy and Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

Mr Biden will be the second Catholic president after John F Kennedy. St Matthew’s Cathedral, the seat of the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, was the site of JFK’s funeral in 1963.

Trump joins small band of historic figures in missing successor’s swearing-in

Matthew Rocco

Donald Trump will not be the first US president to skip the inauguration of his successor.

John Adams, the second American president, was the first to do it. Adams lost re-election in 1800 to Thomas Jefferson, and the two men – close friends and allies during the American Revolution who had a bitter falling out during the Washington administration – had different visions for the country. Adams was an advocate of a strong central government and an alliance with the country’s former colonial masters in London; Jefferson feared the power of the new federal government and urged close association with fellow revolutionaries in France.

John Quincy Adams, the second president’s son who won the White House on his own in 1824, snubbed the 1829 inauguration of Andrew Jackson, leaving Washington one day before the event.

Andrew Johnson – successor to the assassinated Abraham Lincoln, who had made the racist Tennessean his vice-president for his second term in office – declined to attend the swearing-in of Ulysses S Grant, the Civil War hero who had replaced him on the Republican ticket in 1868.

In 1921, Woodrow Wilson did not participate in the swearing-in of Warren Harding due to health reasons; he had suffered a debilitating stroke, which the White House largely hid from the American public, more than a year earlier. Wilson did travel with Harding to the Capitol prior to the ceremony.

News reports from 1841 said Martin Van Buren was not in attendance at the inauguration of William Henry Harrison, the man who unseated him. It remains unclear why. Van Buren was the target of substantial criticism related to the financial crisis known as the Panic of 1837, and his son was very ill at the time of the inauguration.

Scenes from the inauguration

With inauguration proceedings set to begin soon, VIPs have begun to arrive at the Capitol with large parts of Washington locked down.

US singer Lady Gaga, who will perform the national anthem, arrives for the inauguration at the US Capitol

Members of the National Guard stand on the National Mall

Empty chairs on the West Front of the US Capitol

A worker vacuums stairs as preparations are made ahead of the inauguration

The US Marine band performs before Joe Biden is sworn in

Peter Spiegel, US managing editor

Joe Biden’s swearing-in has taken on a significance that outstrips most previous presidential inaugurations, which tend to be highly ceremonial affairs filled with pomp and symbolism but thin on substance. Indeed, many are remembered for their symbolism alone, like Jimmy Carter’s in 1977, which is recalled by historians for the new president’s decision to forgo a motorcade during the inaugural parade and walk down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House from his swearing-in at the Capitol.

There are a handful of inaugurals credited with setting a new course for the nation, starting from the first by George Washington in 1789, where the president delivered an address ghostwritten by fellow Virginian James Madison and delivered in lower Manhattan near Wall Street. Madison, who helped orchestrate the constitutional convention that established the new federal government, had become Washington’s chief political adviser and is widely credited with coming up with the idea of an inaugural address, given by a humbly-dressed Washington, who observers said was trembling with nervousness. The tradition was set.

Here is a subjective list of the US’s most important inaugural addresses:

‘With malice towards none; with charity for all’: Lincoln’s second inaugural, 1865. The US Civil War was nearing its end, and the recently re-elected president would be dead of an assassin’s bullet just six weeks later, making Abraham Lincoln’s call for a peaceful national reconciliation, and his clear attempt to avoid any sense of triumphalism, all that more poignant.

‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself’: FDR’s first inaugural, 1933. Like Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt was sworn in during a period of national crisis, this one economic rather than military. FDR sought to rally a wounded nation with solemnity, but one that was at odds with his trademark optimism. He reminded the country it was suffering from a lack of “only material things” and that its spirit remained intact — a spirit that would be necessary to overcome the Great Depression.

‘The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans’: Kennedy’s inaugural, 1961. John Kennedy’s inaugural address marked a generational change from leaders born in the 19th century to those from the 20th. It is also one of America’s great political speeches, including the vow to “pay any price, bear any burden” in defence of democracies abroad, and its call for Americans to “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

‘Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem’: Reagan’s first inaugural, 1981. The former film star’s arrival in Washington is mostly remembered for its change in tone and style. Gone was the down-to-earth populism of the Carter era; in its place the Hollywood glamour of Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Stewart, both of whom were in attendance. Reagan’s line set out his political philosophy would set the tone for the eight years to come.

‘We are all Republicans; we are all Federalists’: Jefferson’s first inaugural, 1801. Those who maintain that elections of the past were a gentlemanly affair compared to the modern day need only to look at John Adams’ re-election fight in 1800. The incumbent was accused of being a war-mongering autocrat by allies of challenger Thomas Jefferson, who was branded an atheistic libertine by Adams partisans. Adams was so embittered that, like Mr Trump, he skipped the inauguration of his one-time friend. Jefferson used his address to offer his famous call for partisan healing.

Honourable mention: ‘This American carnage stops right here and stops right now’, Trump’s inaugural, 2017. From such a short distance, it’s hard to judge where Donald Trump’s address will fit into history. But it raised eyebrows at the time, with former President George W. Bush reportedly leaning over to Mr Trump’s defeated rival Hillary Clinton to offer this assessment: “Well, that was some weird shit.”

Dozens of Republicans in attendance at Biden’s swearing-in

Lauren Fedor

Donald Trump is the first outgoing president in more than a century to snub his successor’s inauguration. But dozens of Republican lawmakers, past and present, are attending Joe Biden’s swearing-in, in an apparent display of bipartisanship just two weeks to the day after a mob of Mr Trump’s supporters laid siege on the Capitol.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican, joined Mr Biden at mass this morning, along with his wife, Elaine Chao, the former transportation secretary who was among the Trump cabinet members who resigned over the Capitol attack. Mr McConnell, who spent much of the past four years in lock step with Mr Trump, has also broken with the 45th president. On Tuesday, he said Mr Trump had "provoked" the mob, and has not ruled out voting to convict him in the forthcoming impeachment trial.

Many of the president’s allies, however, have stuck by his side. They include Jim Jordan, the Republican House member who Mr Trump awarded the presidential medal of freedom to earlier this month. Mr Jordan is at the inauguration, and told reporters on Capitol Hill this morning that it was “important” for him to attend the event. Lee Zeldin, another House Republican who has remained loyal to the president, is also there, as is Steve Scalise, the House minority whip, and Kevin McCarthy, the top House Republican. Mr McCarthy joined Mr McConnell and others at mass this morning at the invitation of Mr Biden.

Ted Cruz, the Texas senator who has attracted ire from both Democrats and fellow Republicans for his objections to the certification of Mr Biden’s election, is also at the swearing-in, as is Josh Hawley, the Missouri senator who led the objections in the upper chamber.

Rana Foroohar, global business columnist

President Donald Trump may have left but at least one part of his policy agenda remains – the US stance on China.

Sure, you’ll see less inflammatory rhetoric around the competition between the two nations but, under a Biden administration, you may see a more coherent push to contain what both sides of the aisle acknowledge to be America’s most pressing economic and foreign policy challenge: the “One World, Two Systems” problem.

I was struck in particular by the strong stance taken by incoming Treasury secretary Janet Yellen in her confirmation hearing on Tuesday. She stressed that “making things in America” and competing with the Middle Kingdom in areas like electric vehicles was a key part of the Biden “Build Back Better” plan for economic health. She talked tough about taking on China’s “abusive practices” in areas such as tariffs and dumping.

Yellen did not say this explicitly, but it was clear from her testimony that she understood that the biggest winners from the past 20 years of globalisation have been China and multinational companies (the other big target for Treasury – she promised to fight tax “offshoring” and the way in which large companies have benefited so disproportionately from the current economic and tax paradigm).

That highlights the real Trump legacy, which was blowing up the myth that neoliberal economic policies benefit everyone.

There are winners and losers from laissez-faire globalisation, and while “Building Back Better” is a savvier approach to fixing homegrown economic problems than trying to “Make America Great Again”, both approaches acknowledge that we are in a post-neoliberal era.

Trump was the symptom, rather than the cause, of that. But more than any one figure, he has pulled up a scrim on the fact that China and the West are not going to live happily ever after under World Trade Organization rules, Ricardian economics are suspect in a world of state capitalism, and the US is going to have to come up with a fresh way to manage the challenge of China.

Rana Foroohar, global business columnist

It’s hard to imagine an incoming president with a bigger laundry list of short-, medium- and long-term challenges. But that’s not true when it comes to unemployment rates, which were far higher for FDR when he took office in 1933 (they were higher for Obama too, though not by much).

And yet, like FDR, Biden is presiding over not just an immediate crisis, but a long-term pendulum shift in the US and global economic paradigm. We have reached peak levels of debt, financialisation and corporate concentration. The centre cannot hold (indeed, the midterms are already front and centre on the minds of the new administration). This president needs to contain not just a pandemic, but reset the structure of our entire economy. In today’s speech, I’m looking for hints about how those short- and long-term goals will connect.

Take stimulus – cheques are great, but how will the new administration handle what looks very likely to be a new era of American austerity? The savings rate was 33 per cent in April – positively Chinese – and while consumer spending picked up in the warmer months, December retail figures were poor. Rich people are putting their spare cash in the stock market, while the poor hide it under a mattress. How do we move from an economy based almost entirely on consumer spending and asset prices to one that is more about making things?

One thing we need to make more of is vaccines – what will the president’s national marching orders be for fighting the pandemic, and putting a jab in every American arm as soon as possible? What part of his plan might connect to the broader goals of reshoring some supply chains in strategic areas and moving wealth, jobs and opportunity from the coasts to inland regions?

Part of the answer to building a 21st century workforce will surely involve more training and education – I’d love to hear whether the president plans to revisit former President Obama’s goal of revamping secondary education by pushing new public-private partnerships that connect job creators and educators, or whether his plans to offer up a student debt jubilee have evolved? I’m hoping the focus will be on targeted debt forgiveness for those that really need it, and a push to add two years of post-secondary education into the current high school curriculum rather than to make community college free (a lot of it simply isn’t good enough to be fixed).

And aside from fixing problems at home, we need to know what the administration thinks about the China challenge – and how we might work with allies to approach it, rather than going it alone.

Pence arrives at Capitol after skipping Trump farewell

Demetri Sevastopulo

Mike Pence, the former Indiana governor who served as vice-president to Donald Trump, is attending the inauguration while Mr Trump snubs the event and flies home to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Mr Pence, who was arguably the most loyal member of the Trump team, did not attend the farewell event that Mr Trump held at Joint Base Andrews – the military airport outside Washington – on Wednesday. His team said it was not logistically possible to attend both events, but he ultimately decided to pick the inauguration.

The former Indiana conservative congressman returned to the Capitol two weeks after he was forced to take cover as a pro-Trump mob stormed the building in a siege that led to the deaths of five people. As Mr Pence and his family were hunkered down inside the Capitol, Mr Trump attacked his number two official on Twitter.

The two men did not speak for five days after the violent attack, capping a tumultuous four years during which Mr Pence was repeatedly ridiculed for his sycophantic approach to the president – a stance that some critics suggested was similar to the way that officials in North Korea offer fake praise for Kim Jong Un, the country’s dictator.

Mr Pence is believed to harbour ambitions to run for president in 2024. But his ultimate refusal to cave to demands by Mr Trump to do more to oppose the election result sparked anger from some in the conservative base who had backed Mr Trump. During the siege on the capitol, some in the mob shouted, “Hang Mike Pence”.

Peter Spiegel, US managing editor

There are several dignitaries on the inaugural platform who are clear reminders of the riots inside the US Capitol just two weeks ago. Kamala Harris was escorted to her seat by Eugene Goodman, the US Capitol Police officer who has emerged as a hero for guiding the unruly mob away from the Senate chamber, just as vice-president Mike Pence was being pulled away to a secure area.

In addition, just before Amy Klobuchar, the Minnesota senator, kicked off the ceremonies, the acting sergeants-at-arms of both the House and Senate were introduced. Both are new to their jobs and “acting” because their predecessors resigned in the wake of the rampage. The sergeants-at-arms are responsible for security in the Capitol complex, and congressional leaders demanded their resignation in the wake of the complete breakdown by police.

Rana Foroohar, global business columnist

Purple is the new black. That's the message being given by Kamala Harris, Michelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton, all of whom are wearing it today at the inauguration.

There are at least three messages being given here. First, Suffragettes of the 1900s used purple, white and gold as their brand, to symbolise loyalty, purity and hope.

Second, Harris is clearly giving a special nod to Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to run for president in 1972, who also wore purple.

Finally, as Hillary Clinton wrote in her new memoir, "the morning after the election, Bill and I both wore purple. It was a nod to bipartisanship (blue plus red equals purple)."

No protest activity visible near DC ‘green zone’

Peter Spiegel

Edward Luce, our Swamp Notes columnist in Washington, is on the ground outside the inaugural security cordon watching for any signs of disturbance in a US capital that has been locked down by as many 25,000 Army National Guard troops.

Ed reports that protest activity around the encaged “green zone” perimeter is virtually non-existent. “It's better than the alternative,” says one National Guardsman from Tennessee. Two weeks ago the area was flooded by a mob of thousands. Now, apart from the endless sirens of police escorting dignitaries to the swearing-in, you could almost hear a pin drop.

Peter Spiegel, US managing editor

The White House pool reporter has sent a note from from Palm Beach International Airport that Air Force One has landed with the outgoing president at just before 11am ET. The report noted that the aircraft passed over Mar-a-Lago, Mr Trump’s once and future home, as it came in for a landing.

Among those who were onboard were most of Mr Trump’s family as well as aides Dan Scavino and Jason Miller. “TVs in rear of the plane were tuned to Fox News, which showed split screen of Air Force One departing and Biden going to church ahead of inauguration.”

Peter Spiegel, US managing editor

Shortly after Mr Biden arrived on the inaugural platform, the official ceremonies got underway with a prayer and patriotic music, including the national anthem sung by Lady Gaga.

Even though all dignitaries are now in place, the Capitol front still looks half empty because of the social distancing measures in place for the ceremony.

Trump supporter squeezes in one final look at Washington

Katrina Manson

Amy Stockard, a 25-year-old UPS postal worker, drove up from North Carolina for the day to see the capital one last time “before the country went to shit”.

A Trump supporter who believes the elections were stolen but censured the actions of the mob last week, she said she wanted to show Trump supporters could also be peaceful.

Sitting on steps near the heavily guarded perimeter fence with her mask around her chin, she said she opposed what she described as Mr Biden’s plans to tax the rich.

“We just think Trump had done so much good for this country and Biden wants to do all these evil things to people,” she said.

Rana Foroohar, global business columnist

Per Peter Spiegel, more bling, this time on the finger of J.Lo, who is really hitting it out of the ballpark this year, between the inauguration and the Super Bowl halftime show.

I do like the Pete Seeger version of "This Land Is Your Land" a bit better, I must say. But very nice shout out in Spanish there at the end. Immigrants rock!

Peter Spiegel, US managing editor

The Biden administration has officially begun.

While we await Mr Biden’s inaugural address, it's worth noting that the appearance of Lada Gaga and Jennifer Lopez at the ceremony is a return to an inaugural tradition of adding a bit of Hollywood glamour to the proceedings, a tradition that has been largely absent from Washington during the Trump years, when many celebrities shunned the US capital. Hollywood's courting of a new administration is bipartisan. Ronald Reagan invited Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Stewart and Bob Hope.

Peter Spiegel, US managing editor

Biden’s first rhetorical flourish mentions the sundry crises facing the US: pandemic, economic turmoil, racial strife. And then calls for overcoming them. These are pretty clear echoes of the two most famous inaugural addresses, those delivered by Abraham Lincoln at his second inaugural as the Civil War was ending and by Franklin Roosevelt in the midst of the Great Depression.

Demonstrator asks: Can they see how badly America is hurting?

Katrina Manson

Eric Kestner, a 55-year-old automobile worker who lost his job in the coronavirus downturn “when the phones stopped ringing on March 23”, said he feared Mr Biden would fail to deliver on his promises to help those in need.

He drove over from Washington state with his son, who also lost his job. The pair were the only visible demonstrators along one stretch of the perimeter fence, offering a peaceful protest from the left.

The Bernie Sanders supporter said the left wanted radical change that Mr Biden at most paid only “lip service” to.

“I wonder if they can see us, if they can see how badly America is hurting right now,” he said of America’s ruling classes. “People need to be saved right now.”
He despaired of the heavy security presence.

“If this is a democracy and we need this to instal a president that’s really worrisome,” he said pointing to the armed National Guard troops lined up behind him.

Biden promises to make healing the racial divide a top priority

Kiran Stacey

"A cry for racial justice, some 400 years in the making, moves us," Biden said. "The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer."

Biden has promised that one of his first priorities as president will be to heal the racial divide in the US, which came to the fore again last year after a police officer killed George Floyd, triggering mass protests across the country and elsewhere.

To do that, many civil rights advocates say he will have to be willing to push for policing reform. Biden himself noted the contrast between the images of heavily armed police guarding the Lincoln Memorial during the Black Lives Matter protests, and of police standing aside to let protestors into the Capitol building two weeks ago.

Police reform has stumped several former presidents however, for two main reasons: policing is largely controlled at a state and local level; and police unions hold considerable political power. If Biden is serious about wanting to change the way America is policed, he may have to make a few enemies along the way.

Peter Spiegel, US managing editor

So far, Biden’s address is clearly a continuation of his campaign message of reuniting the country after a particularly divisive four years. “This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the way forward."

He is using past historical crises to argue the US can overcome what came before. An effective rhetorical tool, though one that others have used frequently before.

Washington quiet as Biden sworn in

Katrina Manson

The city is eerily quiet save for the sounds of sirens and helicopters overhead. But as far as 10 blocks away from the US Capitol, busloads of National Guard troops have taken over parts of Lincoln Park, a favoured residential spot more usually frequented by joggers, dogs and toddlers.

Rows of riot shields have replaced them, laid out on the grass in the sun. The troops' main mission is to ensure the park does not become a staging ground for pro-Trump supporters, who had discussed using the area as a gathering spot in internet chatter last week.

Peter Spiegel, US managing editor

This directly addressing Trump supporters is effective, but interesting that it includes a bit of finger-wagging about the need to protest "peaceably".

Both anecdotal evidence and recent polling show that most Trump backers don't support the Capitol rioters. Does Biden risk painting all Trump voters with the same brush with that warning?

Peter Spiegel, US managing editor

Biden is not a great orator, but that was an effectively delivered speech, and one that was well structured, too. A warning of the dangers facing the nation, followed by a break for a moment of prayer and rounded out with a rallying cry for the country to come together to deliver a better future for our children.

Given by Barack Obama or Bill Clinton, both of whom are stronger orators, it could have been quite moving. But Biden did very well, and I found myself carried away by the delivery on more than one occasion.

Peter Spiegel, US managing editor

For me, perhaps the most effective parts of the address were the appeals to think about future generations. Biden's personal history made those lines particularly moving for me.

When he thinks about future generations, he obviously thinks of his children who perished in an auto accident, or his son Beau, who died of cancer. It gives his words about children and grandchildren a moral power that other politicians are frequently lacking.

Bystanders and National Guard converse outside the perimeter

Katrina Manson

Bystanders on the streets huddled around their phones listening to Mr Biden’s speech live. Some National Guard chatted with civilians on the other side of the fence, sharing joint despair about the nature of “humanity” and why people couldn’t find a way to be friendly across political divides.

“Agree to disagree, and move on,” said one National Guard member to sympathetic members of the public, adding all people wanted to pay their bills and make their livings.

One man who came on his bike said that despite high security that prevented him from getting closer, all that mattered was that the inauguration had gone ahead. “It’s happening; that’s what’s important,” he said.

Nato chief says Biden inauguration marks ‘new chapter’ for alliance

Michael Peel in Brussels

Jens Stoltenberg, Nato Secretary General, hailed Mr Biden’s inauguration as US president as “the start of a new chapter for the transatlantic Alliance”.

Former President Donald Trump had lambasted European allies for failing to spend more on their militaries and had branded Nato itself obsolete while campaigning for the White House.

“The bond between North America and Europe is the bedrock of our security, and a strong Nato is good for both North America and Europe,” Mr Stoltenberg said in a statement. “US leadership remains essential as we work together to protect our democracies, our values and the rules-based international order.”

He said he looked forward to welcoming Mr Biden to a Nato summit in Brussels later this year.

Peter Spiegel, US managing editor

Nice moment when General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the US military's most senior officer, gave Vice-president Kamala Harris a sharp, stiff salute as she walked up to him on the dais.

Milley came under stinging criticism for accompanying Trump to his infamous photo op just outside the White House during the Black Lives Matter protests. He has spent the ensuing months atoning for that decision, and he'll need the backing from Biden and Harris to stay in his job.

White House Twitter accounts passed over to Biden administration

Hannah Murphy

The institutional White House Twitter accounts have now been passed over from the Trump administration to the Biden administration, according to the social media company.

From the release:

“Accounts for the White House, President, Vice President, First Lady and White House Press Secretary have now inherited their new institutional usernames:
@Transition46 has become @WhiteHouse
@PresElectBiden has become @POTUS
@SenKamalaHarris has become @VP
@FLOTUSBiden has become @FLOTUS
@PressSecPsaki has become @PressSec

A new account [for Ms Harris’ husband], @SecondGentleman, is also live.”

Unlike under the previous handover to Mr Trump, Mr Biden’s new @POTUS account will not automatically keep followers from the previous administration, Twitter has said.

This has already angered the Biden administration, with Mr Biden’s digital director Rob Flaherty accusing the platform of “bending themselves over backwards to break with the 2017 protocol they set on the transfer of accounts, and also breaking with every other social platform in providing the new administration a follower base”. The new @POTUS account currently has 1m followers.

The Trump administration Twitter accounts, such as the @POTUS45 and @WhiteHouse45 handles, are now publicly archived with the National Archives and Records Administration. Mr Trump’s personal account was permanently banned from Twitter in the wake of the January 6 Capitol riots, over fears the president was wielding it to stoke further unrest.

Peter Spiegel, US managing editor

This is the moment where the outgoing president is traditionally escorted to the Marine One helicopter for his departure from Washington. That obviously will not be happening today, since Trump is already in Florida.

The pool reporters travelling with Trump said he arrived at his Mar-a-Lago resort at about 11:30am local time, meaning he spent the final 30 minutes of his presidency at home.

The pool report said: "There was no crowd or greeters at airport. But supporters had gathered at key points along route at places in dozens."

Peter Spiegel, US managing editor

Boy this is weird. Harris doing the send-off with Pence instead of Biden and Trump. It reminds me a bit of the famous portrait of the British surrender at Yorktown to end the American Revolution.

When General George Washington arrived to accept the surrender, British General Charles Cornwallis had sent his second-in-command to hand in his sabre. Washington ordered his second-in-command to accept the surrender instead.

Bystander says Biden's message opposite of Trump's

Katrina Manson

Natasha Munasinghe, a 38-year-old lawyer who crouched down on the roadside to hear Mr Biden’s speech, said it was “completely opposite” from Mr Trump’s message four years ago. But she said that, despite the call for unity, he faced multiple problems at home like the pandemic, domestic division and economic crisis.

Peter Spiegel, US managing editor

During a normal inauguration, we'd now be seeing the start of the inaugural parade, where the newly sworn-in president makes his way down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.

Ever since Jimmy Carter decided to walk the distance, most new presidents have eschewed a motorcade for at least part of the route. But it looks like Joe Biden will be going directly to 1600 Pennsylvania by car. There, he will do something a bit more traditional: reviewing the troops as they pass by a presidential reviewing stand set up just for this occasion.

Iran hails nuclear agreement as ‘still alive’ with Biden administration

Najmeh Bozorgmehr in Tehran

Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani said the historic nuclear agreement, from which Donald Trump pulled the US, “is still alive” and could revert to its original form with the new US administration, “which knows politics”.

“Today, the black book of Trump will be closed forever,” Mr Rouhani said in a live speech on Wednesday. “We thank God that the era of an authoritarian is over ... whose four years had no benefits for the people in the US and the world” and led to “polarisation” of the American society which turned that country into a “garrison” on inauguration day.

He called on the administration of Joe Biden to “wipe out those black stains” and correct “the injustice” and “violation of law” by its predecessor including the damages to the 2015 nuclear accord.

“Today, the ball is in the US’s and Washington’s court. If they go back [to the deal], we will also go back to all our commitments,” Mr Rouhani said. “It can be done very quickly and has no legal complications. Should they implement all their commitments, we shall do the same within the next hour.”

But he added that if the US decided to go ahead step by step, the Islamic republic would also do the same. “One signature for one signature."

Ukraine's president hopes for 'enhanced' relations under Biden presidency

Roman Olearchyk in Kyiv

Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president whose notorious 2019 phone call with Donald Trump triggered the former US president’s first impeachment, tweeted during Biden’s inauguration:

“Watching the inauguration of the new US President … I’m sure our relations will be enhanced.”

Mr Trump was impeached the first time for withholding military aid to Ukraine in 2019 to pressure Kyiv into helping him find dirt on Mr Biden and his son Hunter Biden's dealings in the country, as it continued to push back against Russia in an undeclared war that erupted in 2014 with Moscow’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

As vice-president in Obama’s administration, now president Biden spearheaded US-Ukraine relations pushing Ukraine to reform and crack corruption as it simultaneously battled Russian aggression.

China sanctions Trump officials including Mike Pompeo

Demetri Sevastopulo

The Chinese government has sanctioned several former Trump administration officials, including the outgoing US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, accusing them of having “seriously violated” China’s sovereignty.

Beijing took the unique move a day after the Trump administration declared that the repression and detention of more than 1m Muslim Uighurs in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang amounted to genocide.

The Chinese foreign ministry said it was sanctioning 28 individuals. The targets include Matt Pottinger, the recently departed deputy national security adviser who was one of the main drivers of the administration’s hawkish approach towards Beijing over the past couple of years.

They also targeted Robert O’Brien, who was national security adviser until Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th American president on Wednesday, and John Bolton, who was his predecessor in the top security position.

“Over the past few years, some anti-China politicians in the US, out of their selfish political interests and prejudice and hatred against China . . . have executed a series of crazy moves which have gravely interfered in China's internal affairs . . . and seriously disrupted China-US relations,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.

Read more on this story here.

Peter Spiegel, US managing editor

In another sign of the transfer of power, we have the first official Biden press pool report, which informs us that the new president has signed three documents in a Capitol Hill ceremony: an inaugural proclamation, nominations for cabinet posts, and nominations for sub-cabinet posts.

When Donald Trump did this, he chose to hold up each document for the cameras. Biden's ceremony was far more subdued. He now heads to the White House for the "pass in review", where the soldiers, sailors and airmen in the US military parade along Pennsylvania Avenue.

Sounds of the suburbs: Washington residents express themselves

Katrina Manson

One intersection in view of the US Capitol brought together strange bedfellows.

A man wearing a Biden-Harris flag over his shoulders spread his arms to send the flag flying high; a Christian preacher in a neon yellow hat yelled into a microphone, railing against the wicked.

Two neighbours banged pots and pans from their front garden in what appeared to be a response to neighbourhood calls to make a communal noise to usher in Mr Biden's new term.

A chalk scrawl on the tarmac nearby read: "A person's a person NO MATTER HOW small."

Mexico sends message of congratulations to Biden

Jude Webber in Mexico City

Mexico sent a message of congratulations to President Joe Biden hailing the start of “a new era of mutual respect and shared hope”.

In a message on Twitter, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard sent Mexico’s congratulations. “There will be very good bilateral relations to the benefit of our great people,” he wrote. “A new era of mutual respect and shared hope is beginning.”

Mexico made good relations with Donald Trump a priority, despite tensions over trade and migration but differences, including over investment conditions, labour rules and climate change, could make for testy relations ahead, analysts say.

Earlier, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told a news conference that he shared key goals of Mr Biden: fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, reactivating the economy and dealing with migration — the latter, the Mexican leader said, was best done through co-operation on development.

Though he took six weeks to recognise Mr Biden’s victory and bilateral relations have been strained in recent weeks over security, “I wish President Biden all the best for his administration,” Mr López Obrador said.

Business groups pledge to back some Biden plans, warn on tax increases

Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson

Business groups have greeted Joe Biden’s inauguration with a pledge to support many of his administration’s plans to stimulate the US economy, coupled with a warning that they will fight against tougher regulations and higher corporate taxes.

“You face historic day-one challenges, but you do not face them alone,” the US Chamber of Commerce said in an open letter to Mr Biden, vice-president Kamala Harris and the leaders of the House and Senate.

The lobby group welcomed “the new tone” Mr Biden had set and indicated strong backing for parts of his agenda, including infrastructure spending, immigration reform and “reengaging with the world with a bold trade agenda”. But it cautioned against a return to what it dubbed “excessive regulation or anti-competitive taxes”.

The Business Roundtable similarly applauded the Biden administration’s plans to bring the Covid-19 pandemic under control and make faster progress on issues including climate change and racial equity.

Chief executives from Mary Barra of General Motors to Chuck Robbins of Cisco echoed the theme of unity that ran through the new president’s inaugural address, signalling their hopes of working closely with Washington after four years in which big businesses celebrated the corporate tax cuts Donald Trump championed but recoiled at much of the rest of his agenda.

Changes in CEOs’ thinking about their social responsibilities had given the new administration “an entire new opportunity to engage with business”, Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter told executives on Tuesday, adding: “I hope they no longer have any views that business is inherently going to be the enemy here.”

European lawmakers relieved as Biden-Harris administration begins

Mamta Badkar

European leaders congratulated US president Joe Biden and vice-president Kamala Harris as they assumed the respective offices on Wednesday.

Officials expressed optimism about European and US relations and wished the Biden administration luck with healing the nation, while Emmanuel Macron, president of France, welcomed the US back to the Paris climate agreement.

Ursula Von Der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said:

Congratulations JoeBiden on being sworn in as president of the United States and Kamala Harris – the first woman vice-president of the US! Thank you for the inspiring inaugural address and for the offer to co-operate. Europe is ready for a fresh start.

Mr Macron said:

To Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Best wishes on this most significant day for the American people! We are together. We will be stronger to face the challenges of our time. Stronger to build our future. Stronger to protect our planet. Welcome back to the Paris Agreement!

UK prime minister Boris Johnson said:

Congratulations to Joe Biden on being sworn in as president of the United States and to Kamala Harris on her historic inauguration. America’s leadership is vital on the issues that matter to us all, from climate change to Covid, and I look forward to working with president Biden.

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, said:

I wish president Joe Biden & vice-president Kamala Harris my very best, as they strive to heal their country and lead the American people out of the pandemic.

It’s time to bring back conviction and common sense and rejuvenate our EU-US relationship.

Oil lobbyist API congratulates Biden and braces for tougher road ahead

Derek Brower

The US oil sector’s powerful Washington lobbyist, the American Petroleum Institute, joined the chorus of industry groups congratulating Joe Biden on his inauguration as president, even as the new administration prepared to make life harder for fossil fuel producers.

“Energy is a unifying issue and impacts every American across the country,” tweeted the API. “We congratulate and stand ready to work with president Biden and his administration to support the nation’s economic recovery and build on American energy progress.”

Mike Sommers, the group’s president, added that “while we won’t agree on every issue, all of us at [API] look forward to finding common ground and working with Potus toward a great American economic recovery.”

Hours before the inauguration, the Biden team announced several energy-related executive actions on energy and climate that the new president would sign on the first day, including rejoining the Paris climate agreement, the imposition of a moratorium on drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and revoking a Trump administration permit for the Keystone XL pipeline to carry ultra heavy oil from Canada’s oil sands to the US Gulf Coast.

The Biden administration would also direct federal agencies “to consider revising vehicle fuel economy and emissions standards, methane emissions standards, and appliance and building efficiency”.

The new administration will also immediately require reviews by federal agencies and departments of rules relating to protection of endangered species in oil-drilling areas, fracking, and industry pollution.

The API previously backed the Trump administration’s efforts to open protected Alaskan wilderness to drillers and supported construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. It also endorsed the Trump administration’s rollback of Obama-era limits on emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Mr Sommers said recently that the API would work with the Biden administration on new methane rules.

Last week, French oil supermajor Total became the first big energy company to withdraw from the API, citing among other issues its disagreement with the group’s support in the general election for candidates opposed to the Paris climate pact.

Peter Spiegel, US managing editor

The live, in-person portion of the inaugural ceremonies have mostly wrapped with President Joe Biden, joined by most of the living ex-presidents, laying a ceremonial wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. With the very big caveat that there were no crowds and masks on all faces, the thing that stands out to me after more than 6 hours of inaugural events is how “normal” everything was.

My first inauguration as a reporter in Washington was Bill Clinton’s first in 1993, and for many in the nation’s capital, the quadrennial event is seen mostly as an event for outsiders and visitors. Dignitaries participate in the ceremonies, but a lot of the inaugural events are aimed at out-of-town donors and friends who come to Washington for the pomp, ceremony and inaugural balls. Most reporters and officials take a pass at attending because, while they’re big on symbolism, they’re light on substance.

Like all things to do with the US presidency, Donald Trump turned this on its head, making the January 20 event a must-watch for anyone following American politics. But despite all the provisions taken for security and the pandemic — no throngs on the National Mall, no inaugural balls — and Mr Trump’s decision not to attend, Mr Biden’s swearing in felt much like those of the ex-presidents in attendance.

Most inaugural addresses are not long remembered, and I suspect Mr Biden’s will join those worthy but not historic speeches. Still, it was striking for the new president’s decision to eschew policy pronouncements and focus almost exclusively on the theme of national healing and unity in the face of the multiple crises facing the country: the pandemic, economic chaos and racial divisions. Perhaps that should not be surprising — Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who delivered the two most historically important inaugural addresses, did the same — but it was still remarkable.

The low-key, “normal” nature of the events seem to fit both the moment and the man. Although early in his career Mr Biden was said to hold grudges towards the Washington chattering classes who viewed him as a callow youth with a big grin — a show horse, not a workhorse, in Washington parlance — he has evolved into a political “everyman”, proud of his working-class roots with little time for the perks of office that Mr Trump so relished. The solemn nature of Wednesday’s events fit Mr Biden like a glove, and felt like a prelude to the serious work needed to battle the pandemic and the associated difficulties ahead.

Biden arrives at the White House

Lauren Fedor

Joe Biden has arrived at the White House for the first time as president, after a short walk outside accompanied by his wife, Jill, and his children and grandchildren.

Most presidents enjoy an inaugural parade through downtown DC, but between Covid-19 public health considerations and security concerns after the violent siege on Capitol Hill, this year's parade was stripped back to the bare bones, with performances from the marching bands of the president's alma mater, University of Delaware, and Kamala Harris's Howard University.

The Bidens took the final steps to the White House surrounded by secret service agents on mostly empty streets, bar a small number of cameras and supporters.

The president greeted a handful of people lining the route, including Muriel Bowser, the Democratic mayor of DC who frequently locked horns with Donald Trump and re-named the area just north of the White House "Black Lives Matter Plaza".

The Trumps broke from tradition after Donald Trump failed to invite Mr Biden for a post-election meeting in the Oval Office, and Melania Trump did not extend an invitation to Dr Biden.

Amazon tells Biden it is willing to assist in vaccination effort

Dave Lee

Amazon’s share price closed up almost 5 per cent on Wednesday after it shared a letter it had sent to President Joe Biden, offering to assist in the vaccination effort, and saying it was ready to begin inoculating its own employees immediately if provided with doses.

Dave Clark, the ecommerce group's head of consumer, said the company had in place an agreement with a “licensed third-party occupational healthcare provider to administer vaccines on-site at our Amazon facilities”. An Amazon spokeswoman would not disclose the name of that provider, but added it was talking to a number of potential partners on the effort.

The company already provides its 800,000 US-based employees with a range of healthcare services, including on-site clinics managed by California-based Crossover Health.

In the letter, Mr Clark wrote that Amazon was willing to share its “operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise” to help the new administration reach its goal of vaccinating 100m Americans within Mr Biden’s first 100 days in office.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Amazon has invested more than $4bn in social distancing and other protocols in its facilities. In October, it said 19,816 frontline employees — including Whole Foods workers — had caught Covid-19.

Harris presides over swearing in of new senators

Lauren Fedor

Kamala Harris has carried out her first official task as vice-president, presiding over the US Senate and swearing in her successor, Alex Padilla, as the junior senator from California, and Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, the two Georgia Democrats who won hotly-contested run-off races earlier this month.

Ms Harris, who was first elected as a senator just four years ago, was greeted in the chamber by applause from her former colleagues.

The three Democratic senators, plus Ms Harris, tip the balance of power in the upper chamber of Congress to the Democrats by the smallest possible margin. The Senate is now split, 50-50, with Ms Harris able to cast a tie-breaking vote.

Chuck Schumer, the Democratic senator from New York, now becomes majority leader, and Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican, becomes minority leader.
That means Democrats now control the White House, the Senate and the House — the first time in a decade the party has held all three.

But it will not necessarily be smooth sailing. Joe Biden wants to push through a massive $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, and will need to win the support of not only Republicans but also some more conservative members of his own Democratic caucus, including senator Joe Manchin, if he is to succeed in realising his ambitious legislative agenda.

At the same time, the Senate is expected to begin a trial in a matter of days to determine whether to convict Donald Trump on one charge of inciting an insurrection. Mr McConnell has said he is open to convicting Mr Trump, but it remains to be seen if other Republican senators will follow suit.

Biden signs executive order bringing US back to Paris climate accord

James Politi

Joe Biden, the US president, has signed an executive order to bring the US back into the Paris climate accord, marking a big break with the Trump administration on handling the climate crisis.

On November 4, after the US officially left the Paris agreement, Mr Biden had tweeted "And in exactly 77 days the Biden Administration will rejoin it".

The move by Mr Biden came on his first afternoon as president, and was paired with the signature of an executive order establishing a mask mandate on federal properties for the next 100 days in order to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Biden has vowed to dramatically reverse Mr Trump's disregard for tackling climate change on a global level and environmental deregulation on the domestic front.

Mr Biden's executive actions on masks and climate were the first of 17 he pledged to sign on his first day in office with more to come on immigration, healthcare and economic policy.

Mr Biden is also halting the US's withdrawal from the World Health Organization pursued by Mr Trump.

White House tells agencies to freeze rule changes pending review

James Politi

Ron Klain, the new White House chief of staff, has instructed federal agencies to freeze new rulemaking pending a review by the Biden administration, a sign of how quickly Joe Biden wants to break from his predecessor.

In a memo to the heads of executive departments and agencies on Wednesday, Mr Klain said that they should “propose no rule in any manner” until it had been evaluated and approved by a member of Mr Biden’s team, with few exceptions related to certain national security, health and safety, environmental and financial matters.

The move is standard for most incoming administrations, but it was part of a broader push on Mr Biden's first day in office to undo many of the policies pursued by Trump-era officials, including a raft of executive orders.

In the memo describing the regulatory freeze, Mr Klain said that any new rulemaking that had already been sent to the Federal Register for publication needed to be withdrawn and reviewed.

And that's a wrap

Matthew Rocco

That’s a wrap on our coverage of Joe Biden’s inauguration as the 46th US president.

The event was scaled-down compared to past inaugurations, with the coronavirus pandemic prompting officials to forgo the customary evening parties and pushing some events online. Heightened security presence in Washington also limited in-person attendance of the swearing-in to VIPs including lawmakers.

In his speech, Mr Biden called for unity. “We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal,” he said.

Following a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Mr Biden and his family made their way to the White House, where the new president signed a raft of executive orders to conclude his first day in office. The celebrations will continue with a prime-time programme hosted by Tom Hanks and featuring remarks by Mr Biden and Kamala Harris and an all-star line-up.

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