Biden Kicks Off Term With Executive Orders and Prime-Time Celebration




Highlights From President Biden’s Inauguration

President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. In his inaugural address, President Biden focused on the challenges facing the nation and called for unity.

“My fellow Americans … … this is America’s day.” Singing: “And the home of the brave.” “Please raise your right hand and repeat after me.” “I, Kamala Devi Harris, do solemnly swear.” “That I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” “So help me God.” “I, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., do solemnly swear.” “That I will faithfully execute.” “That I will faithfully execute.” “The office of president of the United States.” “The office of president of the United States.” “So help you God.” “So help me God.” “Congratulations, Mr. President.” “We’ve learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile, and at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed. We’ll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril, and significant possibilities. Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build and much to gain. And here we stand, just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people. It did not happen. It will never happen. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever. Not ever. To all those who did not support us, let me say this. Hear me out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart. If you still disagree, so be it. That’s democracy. That’s America. 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. I’d like to ask you to join me in a moment of silent prayer. Remember all those who we lost this past year to the pandemic, those 400,000 fellow Americans … … amen. Together, we shall write an American story of hope, not fear. Of unity, not division. Of light, not darkness. A story of decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness. May this be the story that guides us. May God bless America, and may God protect our troops. Thank you, America.” “I wish the new administration great luck and great success.” “The chair will administer the oath of office.” “Mr. Ossoff, Mr. Padilla, Mr. Warnock.” “Do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States?” “I do.” “Congratulations.” (Applause) “My first order I’m going to be signing here is … relates to Covid, and it’s requiring, as I said all along, where I have authority, mandating masks be worn and social distancing be kept on federal property and on interstate commerce, et cetera. This is the first one I’m signing.”

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President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. In his inaugural address, President Biden focused on the challenges facing the nation and called for unity.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, taking office at a moment of profound economic, health and political crises with a promise to seek unity after a tumultuous four years that tore at the fabric of American society.

With his hand on a five-inch-thick Bible that has been in his family for 128 years, Mr. Biden recited the 35-word oath of office swearing to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution” in a ceremony administered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., completing the process shortly before noon.

The ritual transfer of power came soon after Kamala Devi Harris was sworn in as vice president by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, her hand on a Bible that once belonged to Thurgood Marshall, the civil rights icon and Supreme Court justice. Ms. Harris’s ascension made her the highest-ranking woman in the history of the United States and the first Black American and first person of South Asian descent to hold the nation’s second highest office.

“This is America’s day,” Mr. Biden said as he began his Inaugural Address. “This is democracy’s day.”

After a deeply turbulent transition, including the storming of the Capitol by supporters of now-former President Donald J. Trump, “democracy has prevailed,” Mr. Biden said, in a speech that immediately laid out the contrast between himself and his predecessor.

“Few people in our nation’s history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we’re in now,” Mr. Biden said, before explicitly acknowledging the devastating toll of the coronavirus in a way Mr. Trump never did.

“To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America, requires so much more than words,” Mr. Biden added. “It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy: unity.”



Mr. Biden’s plea for the country to come together echoed a defining theme of his presidential campaign, a message that has only taken on greater urgency in recent weeks.

“We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal,” he said. “We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.”

And four years after Mr. Trump spoke of “American carnage” in his Inaugural Address, Mr. Biden seemed to offer a direct rebuttal.

“Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path,” he said. “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.”

The ceremony on a chilly, breezy day with a smattering of snowflakes brought to a close the stormy and divisive four-year presidency of Mr. Trump. In characteristic fashion, Mr. Trump once again defied tradition by leaving Washington hours before the swearing-in of his successor rather than face the reality of his own election defeat, although Mike Pence, his vice president, did attend.

[Read the transcript of the president’s Inaugural Address with analysis from Times reporter Glenn Thrush.]

Mr. Trump flew to Florida, where he plans to live at his Mar-a-Lago estate. But within days, the Senate will open the former president’s impeachment trial on the charge that he incited an insurrection by encouraging the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 in an attempt to stop the final receipt of the Electoral College votes ratifying his defeat. The tumult of the past four years is not at all over.

“Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson,” Mr. Biden said in his address. “There is truth and there are lies.”

But he sought to emphasize the long arc of history.

“Here we stand, looking out on the great Mall where Dr. King spoke of his dream,” he said. “Here we stand, where 108 years ago at another inaugural, thousands of protesters tried to block brave women marching for the right to vote. And today we mark the swearing-in of the first woman in American history elected to national office, Vice President Kamala Harris. Don’t tell me things can’t change.”




On Day 1, Biden Signs Flurry of Executive Orders

President Biden signed 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations from the Oval Office on Wednesday, including rejoining the Paris climate accords and mandating masks on federal property.

I thought with the state of the nation, today is no time to waste. Get to work immediately. As we’ve indicated earlier, we’re going to be signing a number of executive orders over the next several days, the week. And I’m going to start today on the compounding crisis of Covid, Covid-19, along with the economic crisis following that, and climate crisis, racial equity issues. And the first order I’m going to be signing here is, relates to Covid. And it’s requiring as I said all along, and where I have authority, mandating masks be worn, social distancing be kept on federal property and interstate commerce, etc. This is the first one I’m signing. The second one I’m signing here is the support for underserved communities … as it relates to how we treat people in health care and other things that you can, we’ll give you copies of these executive orders. And the third one I’m going to sign, and that one we’ll do while you’re all here, is a commitment I made that we’re going to rejoin the Paris climate accord as of today.

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President Biden signed 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations from the Oval Office on Wednesday, including rejoining the Paris climate accords and mandating masks on federal property.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden unleashed a full-scale assault on his predecessor’s legacy on Wednesday, acting hours after taking the oath of office to sweep aside former President Donald J. Trump’s pandemic response, reverse his environmental agenda, tear down his anti-immigration policies, bolster the sluggish economic recovery and restore federal efforts aimed at promoting diversity.

Moving with an urgency not seen from any other modern president, Mr. Biden signed 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations from the Oval Office on Wednesday afternoon. Among the actions the president took were orders to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and end Mr. Trump’s travel ban on Muslim and African countries.

Individually, the actions are targeted at what the president views as specific, egregious abuses by Mr. Trump during four turbulent years. Collectively, Mr. Biden’s assertive use of executive authority was intended to be a hefty and visible down payment on one of his primary goals: to, as his top advisers described it, “reverse the gravest damages” done to the country by Mr. Trump.

“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 during his inaugural address at the Capitol. “Much to repair. Much to restore. Much to heal. Much to build, and much to gain.”

In his remarks, Mr. Biden stressed unity of purpose, urging Americans to “see each other not as adversaries but as neighbor” and pleaded with citizens and leaders to “join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature.”

But his first actions in office were aimed not at compromise and cooperation with his adversaries, but instead suggested a determination to quickly erase much of the Trump agenda. They fell within four broad categories that his aides described as the “converging crises” he inherited at noon Wednesday: the pandemic, economic struggles, immigration and diversity issues, and the environment and climate change.

Moments after Mr. Biden’s inaugural address, the leader of a conservative advocacy group underscored the divisiveness that remains in Washington, accusing the president of taking Day 1 actions that “will make America less safe, less free, and less prosperous.”

In some cases, Mr. Biden’s actions unilaterally and immediately reversed policies and procedures that Mr. Trump had put in place. In other instances, limits on his authority require the president to direct others in his administration to act or even to begin what could be a long process to shift the federal government in a new direction.

Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, said the president’s actions will “immediately reverse the elements of the Trump policies that were deeply inhumane and did not reflect our country’s values.’’




Kamala Harris Is Sworn In as Vice President

Kamala Harris was sworn in, becoming the first woman and the first woman of color to serve as vice president. Her oath of office was administered by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

“Please raise your right hand and repeat after me. I, Kamala Devi Harris, do solemnly swear.” “I, Kamala Devi Harris, do solemnly swear.” “That I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” “That I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” “Against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” “Against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” “That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” “That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” “That I take this obligation freely.” “That I take this obligation freely.” “Without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.” “Without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.” “That I will well and faithfully discharge.” ”That I will well and faithfully discharge.” “The duties of the office on which I am about to enter.” “The duties of the office upon which I am about to enter.” “So help me God.” “So help me God.” [applause]

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Kamala Harris was sworn in, becoming the first woman and the first woman of color to serve as vice president. Her oath of office was administered by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

On Wednesday, 232 years after John Adams became the nation’s first vice president, Kamala Harris became the first woman — and the first woman of color — sworn into the office. The history-making moment is a milestone for Americans who have fought tirelessly for generations to see faces that resemble their own in the government’s executive branch.

But Ms. Harris’s role in the new administration will be much more than a symbolic one.

With the Senate now split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, Ms. Harris may find herself casting the decisive vote in many crucial moments, as the vice president wields tiebreaking power. Ambitious legislation on the coronavirus, the economy, climate change and other policy matters will be high on President Biden’s agenda, and her vote may prove critical. One of her first official acts in her new role will be to swear in three new Democratic senators.

Many expect Mr. Biden will also rely on her prosecutorial chops and her personal energy as a crucial member of the administration. And given speculation that Mr. Biden, who is 78, may not seek a second term, Ms. Harris is sure to face intense scrutiny over her own political future.

But for many, it’s the voice she will offer to women and people of color that was being reflected on as she took office.

“That’s so important, to have a Black woman, a South Asian woman’s perspective, on the big issues that this administration has to tackle,” said Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California and a longtime ally of Ms. Harris’s. “She’ll bring a justice lens, a racial justice lens, racial equity, to everything and every policy and every decision that’s going to be made.”

Across the country, women are wearing pearls on Wednesday to mark the occasion, a nod to the signature pearls that Ms. Harris has worn throughout major milestones in her life, and is likely to wear again when she is sworn in for her history-making turn as the first female vice president. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who as the first woman of color to serve on the Supreme Court has broken barriers of her own, administered the oath.

Hillary Clinton, the only woman ever to receive a major party’s presidential nomination, highlighted the barrier-breaking nature of Ms. Harris’s achievement in a tweet on Wednesday.

“It delights me to think that what feels historical and amazing to us today — a woman sworn in to the vice presidency — will seem normal, obvious, “of course” to Kamala’s grand-nieces as they grow up,” she wrote, posting a photo of Ms. Harris with the two little girls. “And they will be right.”

With the inauguration of Ms. Harris as vice president, her husband, Douglas Emhoff, 56, had two firsts of his own: the first “second gentleman” and the first Jewish spouse of a president or vice president. The details of what Mr. Emhoff, an entertainment lawyer, might do with the platform are unclear, but he has discussed focusing on “access to justice.”

An earlier version of this post misstated when John Adams became the vice president. It was 232 years ago, not 212 years ago.


Lights honoring those who have died in the pandemic surround the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall, a somber setting for the celebratory concert.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Inaugural balls are generally thrown for the winners. After a long, hard-fought campaign, the newly elected leaders, their families and their supporters have a chance to dress up and enjoy themselves.

This, like so many things in this pandemic, was not going to happen this year. Instead, “Celebrating America,” the star-filled Inauguration Day special that aired across several networks, took the party national.

This meant, for starters, that the atmosphere was far less partylike. The big reason was written in lights: the Reflecting Pool memorial, in honor of America’s Covid dead, that faced the opening act Bruce Springsteen from his nighttime stage at the Lincoln Memorial. The tone was not one of a victory bash so much as a morale boost.

Which is not to say “Celebrating America” was apolitical. It centered and valorized President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who were in fact the candidates of one party that defeated another in a bitterly fought (and violently contested) election.

It didn’t require you to be happy that they won, but it did at least assume you were capable of being happy for them. Doubtless that is still a deal breaker for some of the country.

But the special’s politics, as framed by the host, Tom Hanks, were less about policy than a kind of diagnosis of political sickness, and a hope for a cure. “In the last few weeks, in the last few years, we’ve witnessed deep divisions and a troubling rancor in our land,” Mr. Hanks said. It was like a telethon for cancer of the body politic.

The show’s politics were open but nonspecific. Mr. Biden, in the shadow of Lincoln, delivered remarks about the triumph of democracy (a repudiation of the antidemocratic attacks on the election, but only between the lines).

Ms. Harris said that in America, “We not only see what has been, we see what can be,” citing the civil rights and women’s rights movements. You could read in a reference to her election, which broke racial and gender barriers, but she left you to do that yourself.

Likewise, when the former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama appeared to wish Mr. Biden well and talk about shared American values, they didn’t need to point a finger at Donald J. Trump for America’s toxicity. We’d already seen him ourselves — or didn’t see him, pointedly, at his opponent’s inauguration.

As an entertainment show, “Celebrating America” kept its aesthetic, like its politics, basic and broad. (No one expects, or wants, edginess from a Joe Biden production.) The roster of stars wasn’t exactly apolitical: the fact that Mr. Trump was never able to assemble a Hollywood roster like this was no accident.

But the cast and the art was aggressively normie and mainstream, and the performances stuck to a theme: hope in a dark time.

The songs referenced the dark and the light and the dawn: John Legend performing “Feeling Good,” Demi Lovato doing “Lovely Day,” Jon Bon Jovi covering the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.” The nighttime performances’ settings, too, emphasized bringing light to the darkness, even before Katy Perry performed “Firework” to actual fireworks over the Mall.

The subtext of “Celebrating America” was inevitably political: politics gets countries into big problems, and public action is often the only way out of them. (In pandemic America, even having members of a country band wear face masks on stage inevitably and sadly feels like a political statement.)

But the content was more the entertainment-politics equivalent of a chain restaurant with a big menu: it wasn’t going to be anyone’s favorite, but everyone could find something on the menu for them. And what the country was hungriest for right now, “Celebrating America” guessed, was to believe, with Jon Bon Jovi, that the long, cold, lonely winter would end, and the sun would come.


John Legend performing during the “Celebrating America” concert on Wednesday.
Credit… France-Presse, via Getty Images.

It would be practically impossible to display a narrower or less imaginative take on American musical achievement than the performances that were offered around the last presidential inauguration, in 2017. The night before Donald J. Trump took office, the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration” told a story about a cloistered nation largely (and perhaps only) interested in tales about the heartland, told by white performers.

That meant the bar was low for the musical celebrations planned for the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Simply embracing pop music as it actually is — culturally and sonically diverse — would count as deeply progressive by comparison.

On that count, the day’s events — the performances during the swearing-in ceremony, the afternoon “Parade Across America” and the concluding event, the “Celebrating America” televised prime time concert — were a mixed success. Though the day’s various singers spanned generations and backgrounds, they largely emphasized tradition, focused on folk and classic soul, as if organizers were fearful of jolting the country too far into the present.

“Celebrating America” opened with Bruce Springsteen’s embracing his inheritance as American folk hero, and most of the show emphasized benign throwback soul, including performances from Demi Lovato, John Legend, Black Pumas, and the pairing of Justin Timberlake and Ant Clemons. These were formally reverent affairs, even when the songs themselves were new — boomer-soother moments.

Occasionally, the affair leaned into pomp, sometimes to the point of parody, as with Katy Perry’s melodramatic “Firework” in front of, you know, actual fireworks. That said, the night’s overreaches didn’t hold a candle to the overtly theatrical performances during the morning ceremony: Lady Gaga’s potent and somewhat vocally rowdy national anthem, and Jennifer Lopez intercutting gleaming renditions of “This Land Is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful” with a frisky and unexpected injection of her dance hit “Let’s Get Loud.”

There were obvious omissions. Conspicuously, there were no hip-hop performers, and some megastars who had publicly backed Biden — Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Cardi B — did not participate. The Biden celebration, like the Biden campaign, was durable and free of glitz.

Which made the moments where the ceremony broke free of the ceremonial — as when the reggaeton star Ozuna bopped along while singing “Taki Taki,” looking thrilled — all the more appealing. Most of those moments came during the afternoon, a virtual gathering that had a winningly ragtag feel. The Las Vegas High School mariachi band was regal; there was some Fleetwood Mac-soundtracked skateboarding with the TikTok sensation Doggface208; and New Radicals reunited after two-plus decades to sing “You Get What You Give,” a wry anticapitalist anthem from a one-hit wonder act that proved that novelty can be durable, too.

President Biden received messages from the leaders of several foreign countries on Wednesday. 
Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

As the pageantry of the inauguration unfolded in Washington on Wednesday, friends and foes around the world congratulated President Biden — and, in some cases, expressed open relief that the Trump administration had ended.

“America is back,” President Moon Jae-in of South Korea wrote in a Twitter thread addressed to Mr. Biden. “America’s new beginning will make democracy even greater. Together with the Korean people, I stand by your journey toward ‘America United.’”

In Germany, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that rituals like presidential inaugurations “show that the democratic institutions in the #USA work — despite the difficulties of the last few days and despite the polarization in U.S. society.”

Iran, a sworn enemy of the United States, also celebrated Mr. Biden’s ascension, but as a testament to the Islamic theocracy’s resilience in the face of hostility from the Trump administration.

At a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran hailed “the end of Trump’s doomed reign” and noted the endurance of an Obama-era nuclear agreement, from which Mr. Trump had pulled the United States.

Other leaders, including President Joko Widodo of Indonesia and Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, issued more conventional congratulatory notes.

“Let us continue to strengthen our strategic partnership, not only for the benefit of our two nations, but for a better world for all,” Mr. Joko wrote in a tweet addressed to Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.




Kamala Harris Swears In New Democratic Senators

Vice President Kamala Harris swore in three new senators Wednesday: Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, and Alex Padilla of California. Democrats now have narrow control of the Senate.

“If the Senators-elect and Senator-designate will now present themselves at the desk, the chair will administer the oath of office.” “Mr. Ossoff, Mr. Padilla, Mr. Warnock.” “Please raise your right hand. OK, do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that you will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to enter so help you God?” Senators: “I do.” “Congratulations.” [applause]

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Vice President Kamala Harris swore in three new senators Wednesday: Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, and Alex Padilla of California. Democrats now have narrow control of the Senate.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Democrats on Wednesday officially claimed control of the Senate as Vice President Kamala Harris swore in two newly elected Democratic senators from Georgia and her successor from California, bringing the party’s tally of seats to 50.

With Republicans also holding 50 seats, Ms. Harris gives the Democrats majority status because of the vice president’s ability to break ties as president of the Senate.

Just hours after taking her own oath of office outside the Capitol, Ms. Harris was greeted with a standing ovation in the well of the Senate, where she administered the oaths to Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia, who won Jan. 5 runoff elections, as well as Alex Padilla of California, who was appointed to fill the vice president’s seat and became the state’s first Latino senator.

Before doing so, she read from an official document referring to Mr. Padilla as the appointee to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of “former Senator Kamala D. Harris of California,” then let out a loud laugh and commented, “That was very weird.”

It marked an unusual beginning for the three men, who attended a presidential inauguration on their first day as senators and will count deliberating and voting in an impeachment trial as some of their earliest acts in office.

As jurors weighing whether former President Donald J. Trump should be convicted of “incitement of insurrection” for his role in egging on the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, the three men will be the only senators who were not present when the throng of pro-Trump rioters stormed the building.

With an evenly divided Senate for the first time since 2000, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, now the majority leader, and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the top Republican, have yet to reach an agreement on how the chamber will operate. Mr. McConnell is pushing for a commitment from Democrats to leave the filibuster intact as part of any deal, a demand that Democrats are resisting.

Some progressive Democrats want their party to change longstanding Senate rules to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for advancing legislation, which would allow President Biden to push through his agenda over unified Republican opposition.

Avril D. Haines arriving before a confirmation hearing with the Senate Intelligence committee on Tuesday.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Avril D. Haines to be the director of national intelligence, after striking a last-ditch deal to avoid breaking the long tradition of confirming a new president’s top national security officials on Inauguration Day.

The vote was 84 to 10 to elevate Ms. Haines, signaling broad bipartisan support that Senator Mark Warner, the incoming chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said was welcome after the former president had consistently maligned the nation’s top intelligence officials.

“After being deliberately undermined for four years, the intelligence community deserves a strong, Senate-confirmed leader to lead and reinvigorate it,” said Mr. Warner, Democrat of Virginia.

The timing of the vote had been in doubt after a Republican, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, put up a roadblock to Ms. Haines’s confirmation, requesting that she first commit in writing that she would not seek to reopen investigations into the C.I.A.’s use of torture following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to aides familiar with the situation.

In a post on Twitter earlier on Wednesday, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, said he was skipping President Biden’s inauguration ceremony to try and expedite a vote on Ms. Haines’s confirmation. And by around 6 p.m., Senator Charles Schumer, the incoming majority leader, said a deal had been reached to hold a vote.

His announcement came not long after Mr. Cotton took to the Senate floor to say his objection had been resolved.

The lifting of the hold ensured that Mr. Biden would not be the first president in decades to end his Inauguration Day without at least some of his Cabinet in place — although unlike past presidents, he will not have any other members of his national security team approved immediately, a custom meant to signify the continuity of American power as the presidency changes hands.

The confirmation process has been delayed this year because of the unusual nature of the presidential transition — in which the outgoing president never conceded and Republicans declined for weeks to recognize Mr. Biden’s victory — and the late resolution of two Georgia races that left the balance of power in the Senate up in the air until two weeks ago.

At her confirmation hearing Tuesday, Ms. Haines said her first priority would be to make sure the intelligence agencies deliver nonpartisan intelligence and “speak truth to power.” She also talked about devoting more intelligence resources to China and aiding the F.B.I. in its examination of extremist groups.

Mr. Cotton, a member of the intelligence panel, had questioned Ms. Haines during a closed session of her confirmation hearing on Tuesday about the role of intelligence review boards in scrutinizing the C.I.A.’s use of torture and whether she would seek to reopen old investigations into the agency’s post-Sept. 11 practices. One congressional staff member said Ms. Haines, who was the C.I.A.’s deputy director from 2013 to 2015, had clarified her response privately to Mr. Cotton, but the senator wanted her answer in writing.

Mr. Cotton, in his written question to Ms. Haines, said that in the closed session following her public testimony she had asserted that any move to expand the mandate of intelligence review boards would be “forward looking,” and that she would not try to revive the Obama administration’s examination of the C.I.A.’s interrogation program, use of torture or programs to send captured terrorists to other countries for questioning.

“Can you confirm that you will not reinvigorate efforts to prosecute, take administrative action against, or prejudice in any future promotion or selection panels any C.I.A. officer involved with that program under D.O.J. guidance and presidential direction?” Mr. Cotton wrote in his question.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Mr. Cotton said that Ms. Haines had clarified that she had no intention of reopening old investigations or retroactively exposing intelligence officers to criminal prosecution.

“She’s confirmed that in the written record,” Mr. Cotton said. “I’m glad to see we’re not going to reopen that period. I want to thank Ms. Haines for providing the answer.”




Press Secretary Pledges to Bring ‘Truth and Transparency Back’

Jen Psaki conducted the first news briefing of President Biden’s administration on Wednesday just hours after the inauguration, vowing to bring “truth and transparency back to the briefing room.”

“When the president asked me to serve in this role, we talked about the importance of bringing truth and transparency back to the briefing room, and he asked me to ensure we are communicating about the policies across the Biden-Harris administration and the work his team is doing every single day on behalf of all American people. There will be times when we see things differently in this room — I mean, among all of us. That’s OK. That’s part of our democracy. And rebuilding trust with the American people will be central to our focus in the press office and in the White House.” “When will President Biden begin making some foreign leaders calls? Who’s on that initial list? And during the transition, he didn’t speak with President Putin. Does he plan on doing that? And is he going to discuss retaliation for the SolarWinds attack on the federal government.” “On SolarWinds, we’ve spoken with this, about this previously, a bit prior to his inauguration, I should say, today. We are, of course, we reserve the right to respond at a time and in a manner of our choosing to any cyberattack. But our team is, of course, just getting on the ground today. They’re just getting onto their computers. So I don’t have anything to read out for you or to preview for you at this point in time. His view is that the way to bring the country together is to address the problems we’re facing. And so that means getting this Covid relief package through, having Democrats and Republicans take a serious look at that and have conversations with each other about how to move it forward. And he’s going to leave the mechanics, the timing and the specifics of how Congress moves forward on impeachment to them.”

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Jen Psaki conducted the first news briefing of President Biden’s administration on Wednesday just hours after the inauguration, vowing to bring “truth and transparency back to the briefing room.”CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, conducted the first news briefing of President Biden’s administration on Wednesday and vowed to bring “truth and transparency back to the briefing room.”

Ms. Psaki’s appearance at the White House lectern just hours after Mr. Biden’s inauguration was designed to draw a stark contrast with the previous administration, which had engaged in verbal combat with reporters and had all-but abandoned briefings.

Unlike Sean Spicer, Mr. Trump’s first press secretary, who lashed out at the news media and lied about Mr. Trump’s inaugural crowd size during his first appearance in the briefing room, Ms. Psaki engaged in a largely civil exchange of information with reporters.

“There will be moments when we disagree, and there will certainly be days where we disagree for extensive parts of the briefing even, perhaps,” she said to about a dozen journalists in the room. “But we have a common goal, which is sharing accurate information with the American people.”

Ms. Psaki, a Connecticut native, worked for a veteran of Capitol Hill, the 2004 John Kerry presidential campaign and Mr. Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

During Mr. Obama’s second term, Ms. Psaki served as the chief spokeswoman at the State Department and then was runner-up to be White House press secretary when Jay Carney left the White House and was succeeded by Josh Earnest in 2014. She was Mr. Obama’s communications director through the end of his term.

Ms. Psaki, 42, was a surprise choice to serve as Mr. Biden’s chief spokeswoman; she did not work on his campaign, instead working as a CNN commentator and for private public relations clients. But Mr. Biden’s familiarity with her during the Obama administration outweighed any advantage for others who helped him win election.

Ms. Psaki started the briefing with a rundown of the executive orders that Mr. Biden signed earlier in the evening. She then answered a series of questions, including providing information about planned calls between Mr. Biden and foreign leaders and answering a question about the government’s response to a recent cyberattack.

Ms. Psaki called on Zeke Miller, a reporter for The Associated Press, to ask the first question. The move was a return to a briefing room tradition — allowing the wire service the first question — that the Trump administration had abandoned.

For reporters and others familiar with news briefings before the Trump administration, her briefing was extraordinarily normal.

“We reserve the right to respond at a time in a manner of our choosing to any cyberattack,” Ms. Psaki said. “But our team is, of course, just getting on the ground today, they’re just getting onto their computers. So I don’t have anything to read out for you or to preview for you at this point in time.”

Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina chatted with former President George W. Bush before the inaugural ceremony on Wednesday and took a selfie.
Credit…Pool photo by Patrick Semansky

Former President George W. Bush, visiting Washington to attend President Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, privately told Representative James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, that the congressman was “the savior” for helping Mr. Biden secure the Democratic nomination and defeat President Donald J. Trump.

“George Bush said to me today, he said, ‘You know, you’re the savior, because if you had not nominated Joe Biden, we would not be having this transfer of power today,” Mr. Clyburn told reporters on a call after the swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday. Mr. Clyburn’s endorsement of Mr. Biden in the Democratic primary in South Carolina in February was credited with rescuing a campaign that had faltered badly in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“He said to me that Joe Biden was the only one who could have defeated the incumbent president,” said Mr. Clyburn, who chatted with Mr. Bush on the inaugural platform before the ceremony and took a selfie with the former president.

Mr. Bush’s office did not dispute the comment but characterized it more as simple political analysis, not a statement of gratitude to Mr. Clyburn for saving the country from another term of Mr. Trump in the White House.

“This has been a bit overhyped,” said Freddy Ford, Mr. Bush’s chief of staff. “President Bush was acknowledging the congressman’s role in saving President Biden’s candidacy — nothing more, nothing biblical.”

Mr. Bush is no fan of Mr. Trump, who beat his brother Jeb Bush for the Republican nomination in 2016. That fall, the former president voted for “none of the above” rather than casting a ballot for Mr. Trump; his father, former President George Bush, voted for Hillary Clinton; his mother, Barbara Bush, wrote in Jeb’s name. The younger George Bush has not said publicly who he voted for in November, but few who know him think he voted for Mr. Trump.

At Mr. Trump’s swearing-in ceremony in January 2017, Mr. Bush was so struck by the new president’s dark Inaugural Address that he told Mrs. Clinton, “That was some weird [expletive].” He has since remained mostly silent, but his occasional public comments have been interpreted as rebukes of Mr. Trump’s approach to leadership.

Mr. Bush not only attended Mr. Biden’s inaugural ceremony on Wednesday but also traveled afterward to Arlington National Cemetery with the new president along with former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. He also taped a segment with Mr. Clinton and Mr. Obama showed on television Wednesday night sending best wishes to Mr. Biden.

“Mr. President, I’m pulling for your success,” Mr. Bush said in the video. “Your success is our country’s success. God bless you.”

President Donald J. Trump extended Secret Service protection for his adult children, among others, for six months. 
Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

President Donald J. Trump extended Secret Service protection for his adult children for six months, as well as for two cabinet secretaries and the White House chief of staff, an administration official said on Wednesday.

The protections are for each of Mr. Trump’s adult children and their spouses, as well as the former Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, the former national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien and the former chief of staff Mark Meadows, the official said.

The Washington Post reported earlier on the extensions.

The moves mean that the federal government will continue to pay for expensive security arrangements for the wealthy former first family, unless President Biden decides to undo them. But that could be a delicate move for Mr. Biden that might depend on threat assessments by security agencies.

Michael Ellis was appointed the top lawyer for the National Security Agency this week.

The Biden administration on Wednesday put Michael Ellis, a Trump loyalist who was sworn in on Tuesday as the top lawyer for the National Security Agency, on administrative leave, a U.S. official said on Wednesday.

Mr. Ellis’s last-minute appointment was ordered over the weekend by Christopher C. Miller, then the acting defense secretary, prompting Speaker Nancy Pelosi to call for an inspector general investigation of his selection and request that the Pentagon stop his swearing-in.

The Trump administration, not surprisingly, ignored Ms. Pelosi, and Mr. Ellis began work on Tuesday. But his work at the National Security Agency lasted less than two full days.

He will remain on administrative leave while his hiring is investigated by the Pentagon’s inspector general.

Mr. Ellis’s removal was reported earlier on Twitter by CBS News.

Mr. Ellis was a former staff member for Representative Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, and an early member of the Trump administration. He was involved in several high-profile matters, including providing intelligence to Mr. Nunes and putting the reconstructed transcript of President Donald J. Trump’s call with his Ukrainian counterpart in a highly classified computer system.

In November, the Pentagon selected Mr. Ellis, then an official on the National Security Agency’s staff, to become its general counsel, a Civil Service job that does not end with the administration. Trump administration officials had asked the Pentagon’s top lawyer to choose Mr. Ellis, according to people briefed on the process.

Myriad federal rules are in place to try to prevent political appointees from taking permanent Civil Service roles, a practice derisively referred to as “burrowing.” Ms. Pelosi accused Mr. Miller of helping Mr. Ellis burrow in.

But he was not immediately installed while his hiring was reviewed by the Office of Personnel Management, and he applied for a new security clearance. That delay frustrated Mr. Miller, prompting him to order that Mr. Ellis be sworn in.

After the National Security Agency announced on Sunday that it would comply with Mr. Miller’s order, Ms. Pelosi and other officials called foul.

People familiar with the hiring process said that while Mr. Ellis, a Yale-trained lawyer, was a finalist, he did not have the highest score, and that a career official should have been selected for the job.

Mr. Ellis will be difficult to fire, though an inspector general investigation into his appointment could make his removal — or resignation — possible.

However, even if Mr. Ellis’s appointment passes muster with the inspector general, former officials said that the Biden administration would not have to allow him back into the National Security Agency job. He can be reassigned to a variety of legal posts within the Defense Department, such as reviewing contracts with defense companies or overseeing military construction agreements in far-flung bases.

The Biden administration removed Peter B. Robb as the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board.
Credit…Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg

The Biden administration fired the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, a Trump appointee deeply unpopular with prominent labor unions, according to a White House official.

The term of the current general counsel, Peter B. Robb, was not supposed to expire until November, but the administration has a rarely used right to oust him or her prematurely. The general counsel, a Senate-confirmed official, is charged with enforcing the labor rights of private-sector employees and has substantial discretion over which cases the agency brings.

The effort by the administration was reported earlier by Bloomberg Law.

Mr. Robb was a polarizing figure who once proposed demoting the senior government officials who resolve most of the agency’s cases and whom unions accused of seeking to settle a high-profile case against McDonald’s to avoid an adverse decision against the company.

Mr. Robb also argued in a memorandum that Uber drivers should be considered contractors rather than employees and therefore not protected by federal labor law.

Before taking over as the labor board’s general counsel in 2017, he spent most of his career representing employers. He worked on behalf of the Reagan administration in litigation against the union representing air traffic controllers who illegally went on strike in 1981. has been revamped since the Biden administration took over.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

The occupant of the physical White House has changed — and of the digital one. Here’s a look at how has been revamped since the Biden administration took over:

The contact form on the website has sections for a person’s first and last name, email address, phone number and an optional category to include pronouns. Options include “she/her,” “he/him,” “they/them,” “other” and “prefer not to share.”

The second item on the site’s Priorities page, after Covid-19, is climate. “President Biden will take swift action to tackle the climate emergency,” the site says. “The Biden administration will ensure we meet the demands of science, while empowering American workers and businesses to lead a clean energy revolution.”

Mr. Biden is bringing with him a large climate team and has installed climate policy experts in the State, Treasury and Transportation Departments.

Under the menu, “Español” is prominent in light blue font as a way to navigate the site. From the address, “La Casa Blanca 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW,” to the privacy policy, the site’s pages are viewable in Spanish.

The Trump administration in 2017 removed the site’s translation before promising that it would be back soon, but the Spanish-language version was unavailable a year later, The Associated Press reported.

An early set of coronavirus guidelines was translated into Spanish on the White House website in March — three days after the English version, and only after pressure from Latino groups, NBC News reported.

Mr. Biden’s digital takeover also led to the removal of a webpage for a report from President Donald J. Trump’s 1776 Commission, which historians said distorted the history of slavery in the United States, was misleading and was hastily produced. The page that had hosted a PDF of the report now reads “Not Found.” Mr. Biden had said he would cancel the commission.

Hidden in the new site’s technical backend is a message for the tech savvy: “If you’re reading this, we need your help building back better,” a line in the site’s source code reads, as noted by the Reuters reporter Raphael Satter. The message includes a link to apply to the U.S. Digital Service, a group of technologists that works to modernize government services. now includes a variety of accessibility components, such as high-contrast and large text modes, according to Matt Hodges, an engineering director on the Biden team. An accessibility statement on the site reads: “This commitment to accessibility for all begins with this site and our efforts to ensure all functionality and all content is accessible to all Americans.”

The inaugural painting, “Landscape with Rainbow” by Robert S. Duncanson, was displayed in the Capitol Rotunda.
Credit…Pool photo by Win Mcnamee

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris received a series of gifts from congressional leaders on Wednesday afternoon, an occasion for lawmakers from both parties to honor their inauguration.

During a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda, lawmakers presented them with Lenox crystal vases, flags that had been flown over the Capitol during the inauguration and framed photographs of their swearing-in ceremonies.

The inaugural painting, “Landscape with Rainbow” by Robert S. Duncanson, a 19th-century African-American artist, was also displayed.

“Our task as leaders is to bind this nation’s wounds,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader. He added that Ms. Harris had “made history, and all of America should celebrate that.”

It was a starkly different message than the one Mr. McCarthy had sent two weeks earlier, when he was among the Republican lawmakers who voted to overturn the election results hours after a mob of Trump loyalists stormed the Capitol.

Vice President Kamala Harris served up a bipartisan message in a bright single-breasted coat and dress from Christopher John Rodgers.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Forget red and blue (states). The theme of the Biden inauguration was “America United,” and the color of the day seemed to be purple — the shade that bridges the divide by bringing both colors together (not to mention one of the original signature colors of the suffragists, whose dreams are now being realized with the first woman vice president).

“Purple is the color of loyalty, constancy to purpose, unswerving steadfastness to a cause,” the National Woman’s Party wrote in a newsletter in 1913.

Though Dr. Jill Biden coordinated her blue Markarian coat with her husband’s blue Ralph Lauren tie, Vice President Kamala Harris served up a bipartisan message in a bright single-breasted coat and dress from Christopher John Rodgers, as did former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a grape Ralph Lauren pantsuit. And Michelle Obama, the former first lady, wore wine trousers with a coordinated turtleneck and long coat from Sergio Hudson, a young Black designer.

Credit…Left, Chang W. Lee/The New York Times; Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Masks were also part of the material culture of this inauguration. Dr. Biden wore a sky blue mask that appeared custom-made to match her coat, and other members of her family chose a similar monochromatic theme. Ms. Harris opted for a shiny black number that complemented her purple outfit, one of her signature mask looks.

Many men opted for paper medical masks, but a few went for solid shades or face coverings that featured insignia. Former President George W. Bush sported a mask made by Rhoback, a company that was started by former Capitol Hill staffers.

Despite the very high fashion content of President Joe Biden’s swearing in, which included Lady Gaga in a veritable ball gown from Schiaparelli, Ella Emhoff in a crystal-dusted tweed Miu Miu coat with a big white collar; and Jennifer Lopez in winter white Chanel, it was Senator Bernie Sanders, not normally known for his style statements, whose choice of accessories may have had the widest impact. Specifically, Mr. Sanders’ woolly mittens, in a sort of brown and cream Himalayan sweater pattern, which seemed to have charmed practically half the social media world, which began where they could buy a pair.

Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

They quickly got their own hashtag: #Berniesmittens. Even Vogue took note. Jen Ellis, a Vermont schoolteacher, claimed ownership in a tweet.

“I made Bernie’s mittens as a gift a couple years ago,” she wrote, posting a photo of other similar creations. “They are made from repurposed wool sweaters and lined with fleece (made from recycled plastic bottles).”

In response a friend noted, “you better buy some titanium knitting-needles lol, you’ll need them, you just became the world’s most famous ‘mitten knitter’.” And thus the new administration appears to be keeping its vow to jump-start small businesses already.

Officer Eugene Goodman at the inauguration on Wednesday.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Eugene Goodman, a Capitol Police officer who was captured on video facing down members of the mob that breached the Capitol on Jan. 6 and diverting them from entering the Senate chamber and potentially saving lives, was elevated to serve as the No. 2 security official in the Senate for the inaugural events on Wednesday.

As the acting deputy Senate sergeant-at-arms, Officer Goodman, a Black man who fended off a mostly white throng, was part of the official escort accompanying Vice President Kamala Harris to the platform outside the Capitol where she was sworn into the nation’s second-highest office.

The mention of his name was greeted with loud applause as he appeared at the arched entranceway where rioters breached the building exactly two weeks earlier.

Officer Goodman, who was filmed and photographed luring the mob away from the unguarded doors to the Senate chamber a minute before they were locked, has been hailed as a hero on Capitol Hill for preventing the invaders from breaching the chamber while senators were still inside. Officer Goodman’s actions gave the lawmakers time to evacuate to a secure location before the rioters could enter.

A bipartisan trio of lawmakers has introduced legislation that would award Officer Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal for his bravery during the rampage.

In the wake of the Jan. 6 siege, a massive security failure, the top security officials on Capitol Hill — including the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms — resigned, with permanent successors yet to be named.

President Biden hugging the first lady, Jill Biden, at the White House.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden was sworn into an office he has sought for more than 30 years, and Vice President Kamala Harris became the first woman — and the first woman of color — to hold that title. But there was no crowd on the National Mall to celebrate the moment.

Instead, there was a sea of flags representing the people who could not be there because of the pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans, and the streets of Washington were filled with 25,000 National Guard troops deployed to prevent a repeat of the riot former President Donald J. Trump incited at the Capitol two weeks ago.

It was, as Mr. Trump might have put it, an inauguration the likes of which no one has seen before.

A few hours later, Mr. Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, stepped out of the presidential limousine and walked the final stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, accompanied by their grandchildren. Shortly before 4 p.m., to the notes of “Hail to the Chief,” they entered their new home and the door closed behind them.

The Bidens’ day began with Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, after which they and Ms. Harris arrived at the Capitol — the latter accompanied by Officer Eugene Goodman of the Capitol Police, who has been praised for leading rioters away from the Senate chamber after they stormed the building. In coats and gloves, before gathered lawmakers and dignitaries, they took the oaths of office: Mr. Biden from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Ms. Harris from Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Credit…Jason Andrew for The New York Times

The traditional ceremonies of the transfer of power went off without a hitch, and the widespread, potentially violent right-wing protests that law enforcement had feared around the country did not materialize — a reminder that in spite of the extraordinary circumstances, and Mr. Trump’s explicit efforts to undermine it, American democracy remained intact.

“This is the day when our democracy picks itself back up, brushes off the dust and does what America always does: goes forward as a nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota — the top Democrat on the Senate Rules Committee, which organized the inaugural — told the television cameras.

The oaths of office were bookended by Lady Gaga singing the national anthem and Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, captivating the small crowd with a poem that she finished writing after the riot at the Capitol.

The new president and vice president left the Capitol shortly after noon, but the formalities were not over. Around 1:30 p.m., they returned for a traditional gift-giving ceremony. Between them, they received — among other things — a painting on loan from the Smithsonian, custom-made crystal vases and the flags that flew over the Capitol during the inauguration.

Then they watched the traditional “Pass in Review” by representatives of the nation’s armed services and visited Arlington National Cemetery, where they participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Ms. Harris later in the day swore in the Senate’s three incoming members: Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, elected this month in Georgia, and Alex Padilla, who will replace Ms. Harris as the junior senator from California.


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Former presidents and first ladies and leaders from both parties attended President Biden’s inauguration.CreditCredit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Three of the five living former presidents — Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — attended the inauguration and accompanied Mr. Biden to Arlington National Cemetery later in the day. Former President Jimmy Carter, who is 96, stayed home for health reasons.

The newest addition to that group, Mr. Trump, chose to leave Washington rather than attend the inauguration and confront the reality of his loss, breaking from the tradition of almost every departing president in United States history. A small group of activists celebrated at Washington’s Black Lives Matter Plaza as he left the White House and boarded Marine One.

“Have a good life,” he told supporters at Joint Base Andrews, discarding prepared remarks before his final trip on Air Force One took him to West Palm Beach, Fla.

Vice President Mike Pence, who enraged Mr. Trump two weeks ago by following the Constitution and affirming Mr. Biden’s victory, was present along with his wife, Karen Pence, as his own job was turned over to Ms. Harris.

When the ceremony was over, Ms. Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, escorted the Pences out.

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.




The Poet Amanda Gorman Says America Can Be the ‘Light’ It Needs

Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration.

Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world. When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade the loss? The loss we carry asea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast. We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace. In the norms and notions of what just is, isn’t always justice. And yet the dawn is hours before we knew it. Somehow we do it. Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished. We, the successors of a country and a time, where a skinny black girl, descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one. And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine. But that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man. And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none, and harmony for all. Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true. That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped, that even as we tired. we tried, that will forever be tied together victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division. Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid. If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade. But in all the bridges we’ve made. That is the promise promise to glade, the hill we climb. If only we dare it. Because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into, and how we repair it. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it. Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith, we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future, our history has its eyes on us. This is the era of just redemption. We feared it at its inception. We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour. But within it, we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves. So while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us? We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be, a country that is bruised but whole. Benevolent but bold, fierce and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain. If we merge mercy with might, and might with rights, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright. So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left with. Every breath, my bronze-pounded chest. We will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one. We will rise from the gold-limned hills of the West. We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked South. We will rebuild, reconcile and recover in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country. Our people, diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful. When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there was always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.

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Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

When Amanda Gorman, 22, recited her poem at President Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, she became the youngest inaugural poet ever in the United States and joined a small group of poets who have been recruited to help mark a presidential inauguration, among them Robert Frost, Maya Angelou and Miller Williams.

About two weeks ago, Ms. Gorman was struggling to finish a new work titled “The Hill We Climb.” She was feeling exhausted, and she worried she wasn’t up to the monumental task she faced: composing a poem about national unity to recite at a ceremony that would be watched by millions.

“I had this huge thing, probably one of the most important things I’ll ever do in my career,” she said in an interview. “It was like, if I try to climb this mountain all at once, I’m just going to pass out.”

Ms. Gorman managed to write a few lines a day and was about halfway through the poem on Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters stormed into the halls of Congress, some bearing weapons and Confederate flags. She stayed awake late into the night and finished the poem, adding verses about the apocalyptic scene that unfolded at the Capitol that day:

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.

And this effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed,

It can never be permanently defeated.

Ms. Gorman fell in love with poetry at a young age and distinguished herself quickly as a rising talent. Raised in Los Angeles, where her mother teaches middle school, she would write in journals at the playground. At 16, she was named the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. A few years later, when she was studying sociology at Harvard, she became the National Youth Poet Laureate, the first person to hold the position.

Still, while she has been in the spotlight before, she had never performed her work for a televised audience that will likely number in the tens of millions.

Plus, none of Ms. Gorman’s inaugural poet predecessors faced the challenge that she did. She set out to write a poem that would inspire hope and foster a sense of collective purpose, at a moment when Americans are reeling from a deadly pandemic, political violence and partisan division.

Twitter did not transfer followers of the presidential accounts to President Biden, who is currently amassing his own at a rapid clip.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

As President Biden assumed the White House on Wednesday, several social media companies completed their own transitions of highly followed official accounts.

The handoff wasn’t as seamless as it was four years ago, when former President Barack Obama turned over the keys of much of his social empire to former President Donald J. Trump, including the millions of followers of the official presidential Twitter accounts. Mr. Trump’s team used the accounts as megaphones for his administration’s agenda and amassed even more followers: @POTUS ultimately had 33.3 million, @WhiteHouse had 26 million, @FLOTUS had 16.4 million and @VP had 10.3 million. The @POTUS account alone nearly tripled in followers under Mr. Trump.

But this year, Twitter did not transfer the followers of each account to Mr. Biden. Instead, accounts with smaller followings, mostly created last week, were transformed into the official ones.

  • @PresElectBiden, an account that had posted just once, became @POTUS, taking its 1.4 million followers with it.

  • Vice President Kamala Harris brought her 5.6 million followers from her own account @SenKamalaHarris over to @VP.

  • The account for Mr. Biden’s transition, @Transition46, had 1.7 million followers and became @WhiteHouse.

  • And @FLOTUSBiden, Jill Biden’s new account with about 660,000 followers, became @FLOTUS.

The accounts rapidly began gaining followers, and Mr. Biden sent his first tweet as president from the @POTUS account at 12:36 p.m. “There is no time to waste when it comes to tackling the crises we face,” he wrote.




Watch President Trump’s Final White House Departure

The former president and first lady said goodbye to the White House before departing.

You are amazing people. This is a great, great country. It is my greatest honor and privilege to have been your president. I will always fight for you. I will be watching. I will be listening. And I will tell you that the future of this country has never been better. I wish the new administration great luck and great success.

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The former president and first lady said goodbye to the White House before departing.CreditCredit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President Donald J. Trump departed the White House on Wednesday morning for the last time as the commander in chief after four tumultuous years that shook the nation, choosing to leave town rather than face the reality that he lost re-election to President Biden.

“Have a good life, we will see you soon,” Mr. Trump said at the end of off-the-cuff remarks delivered to supporters at Joint Base Andrews, discarding a prepared statement and ignoring advisers who thought he should have thanked Mr. Biden by name.

“We were not a regular administration,” Mr. Trump said, delivering a truncated version of his self-aggrandizing campaign rally speech, and imploring those gathered — most without masks — to “remember” all of his accomplishments.

“We will be back in some form,” he added, before walking away from his last appearance as the nation’s commander in chief to the strains of “Y.M.C.A.” by the Village People. His vice president, Mike Pence, did not attend his farewell event.

Despite flouting most of the conventions associated with the peaceful transfer of power, Mr. Trump did abide by one presidential norm — leaving the traditional note to Mr. Biden in the Oval Office, according to a White House official.

It was not clear what the letter said. Mr. Pence, who tried briefly and belatedly to ease the transition, also left a note for his successor, Kamala Harris, aides said.

Mr. Trump left the White House on a red carpet, hand in hand with Melania Trump, who wore a dark suit and sunglasses, and spoke briefly with reporters before boarding his helicopter, where he stood in the doorway one last instant, waving goodbye with his right hand.

The Marine One helicopter took off from the South Lawn of the White House at 8:18 a.m. for the short flight to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, where Mr. Trump held the farewell event, including a 21-gun salute, with administration veterans and other supporters. After that, he and Mrs. Trump boarded Air Force One for the journey to Florida, where they will reside. The plane landed about an hour before Mr. Biden’s oath of office.


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Former President Donald J. Trump and the former first lady Melania Trump arrived in Florida after leaving the White House, and skipping the inauguration ceremony.CreditCredit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Air Force One landed at Palm Beach International Airport at 10:54 a.m., bringing Mr. Trump to his adopted home state for his final hour as president.

The tarmac was silent as the plane rolled down and around the runway, other than the occasional clicking of a photo camera and the roar of the engine. Mr. and Mrs. Trump stepped off the plane about 10 minutes later.

Mr. Trump, who had considered staging a rally for his return to private life, waved at a small contingent of supporters, perhaps 20 people, who silently waved back. He did not take questions.

In slipping out of Washington before the festivities on Wednesday, Mr. Trump capped a norm-busting tenure by defying one last convention. He refused to host the traditional coffee that presidents hold for their successors at the White House on the morning of the inauguration. And he opted to skip the swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol, normally a symbol of the American tradition of peaceful transfer of power that is attended by both departing and incoming presidents.

No president has refused to attend his successor’s inauguration since 1869, when Andrew Johnson, miffed that Ulysses S. Grant would not share a carriage with him to the Capitol, refused at the last minute to get into the separate carriage arranged for him and skipped the ceremony. (Woodrow Wilson traveled to the Capitol for Warren G. Harding’s inauguration in 1921, but did not remain for the ceremony because of his failing health.)

Mr. Trump leaves office by one measure as the most unpopular president in the history of polling. He is the only president since Gallup began surveys under Harry S. Truman to never garner the support of a majority of the public for a single day of his presidency, and his 41 percent average approval over the course of his tenure is the lowest of any president in that time.

The House last week impeached Mr. Trump for inciting an insurrection after a crowd of his supporters attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, and the Senate is poised to put him on trial in days, even though he will no longer be in office. Although it will be too late to remove him from power, a Senate conviction would amount to a bipartisan repudiation in the history books, and lawmakers could also disqualify him from holding office again, thwarting his talk of running for president again in 2024.

In a farewell address he released on video Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Trump took no responsibility for the Capitol siege or for the coronavirus pandemic that has now claimed 400,000 lives in the United States.

Instead, he boasted of his accomplishments cutting taxes, eliminating regulations, appointing conservative judges and revising trade deals. “The movement we started,” he said, “is only just beginning.”