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Joe Biden to be sworn in as 46th president amid turmoil and loss in US

Donald Trump on Wednesday morning left the White House for the last time as president, hours before Joe Biden is to be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States at a moment of profound turmoil and loss for America.
Biden will take the oath of office on the steps of the US Capitol where exactly two weeks prior a mob of Trump supporters breached security barriers and stormed the building in an effort to overturn the results of the presidential election. 

 He is later expected to sign a raft of executive orders to overturn many of Trump “deeply inhuman” policies, aides say. 

The orders – 17 of them – will see the US rejoin the Paris climate accord. There will be a new mask mandate on federal property and an end to a travel ban on some Muslim-majority countries. 

 The president will also revoke Trump’s emergency declaration that helped fund the construction of a border wall with Mexico. 

Another day one executive act will be the creation of a new White House office to coordinate the response to the coronavirus and an effort to rejoin the World Health Organisation, which Trump withdrew from after accusing it of incompetence. 

 In the aftermath of the deadly assault on the Capitol and as the death toll from the virus surpasses 400,000, Biden will assume the presidency in a city resembling a war zone and devoid of the celebratory pomp and pageantry that comes with a presidential inauguration. 

 Even before the attack on the Capitol, the inaugural planning committee urged Americans to stay home in an effort to minimize the risk of further spreading the disease. 

 After refusing to concede and only begrudgingly acknowledging his successor, Trump will hold a farewell event at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington on Wednesday morning. 

When Biden takes office, Trump will be nearly 1,000 miles away, at his south Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago. 

 Diminished and furious, Trump, who was impeached for a second time on a charge of “incitement of insurrection” after the deadly siege of the Capitol, leaves Washington for an uncertain future. 

His grasp on the Republican party, once iron-clad, has waned, even as supporters remain loyal. Suspended indefinitely from Twitter, he lost his most powerful megaphone. 

 Whether he mounts a political comeback in 2024 probably depends on the outcome of his Senate impeachment trial, which will forge ahead in the first days of his post-presidency. 

If convicted, the Senate can vote to disqualify him from ever again holding future office. 

 The US Capitol Building is prepared for the inauguration ceremonies for President-elect Joe Biden as the “Field of Flags” are placed on the ground on the National Mall on January 18, 2021 in Washington, DC. 

 Biden will be sworn in shortly before noon on Wednesday by Chief Justice John Roberts on the Capitol’s West Front, with a vista of iconic national monuments stretching across the National Mall. 

Instead of a vast throng of supporters, Biden will look out upon a field of flags from each of the 50 US states and territories representing those who could not attend because of the pandemic. 

 Trump’s absence at the ceremony will be a final show of disregard for democratic norms and traditions that Trump gleefully shattered over the course of his stormy, 1,460-day presidency. 

Only four US presidents have skipped their predecessor’s inauguration – most recently Andrew Johnson in 1869. Mike Pence, the outgoing vice-president, will attend the ceremony to demonstrate support for a peaceful transition of power. 

 The Clintons, Bushes and Obamas are all expected to attend the ceremony. 

 Biden will take the oath alongside Kamala Harris, who will make history as the nation’s first female, first Black and first Asian American vice-president. 

She will be sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and Latina member of the supreme court. Some elements will remain unchanged. 

Biden is expected to deliver an inaugural address, in which he will appeal for national unity, drawing a sharp contrast with the dark vision of “American carnage” conjured by Trump four years prior. 

After his remarks, Biden will continue the tradition of reviewing the troops. 

 But Biden will forgo the traditional parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. Instead, the inaugural committee has planned a virtual “Parade Across America” that will begin after his swearing-in. 

 Confronted by remarkable political and cultural upheaval, and the worst public health and economic crises in generations, the committee sought to prepare a mix of celebratory events to mark the occasion – including a star-studded lineup and a number of musical performances – with somber memorials that reflect the pain and loss felt by millions of American families. 

 On the eve of his inauguration, Biden led a remembrance ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool honoring the 400,000 people who died from the coronavirus pandemic. Confronting the virus will be Biden’s most urgent priority after he is sworn in.

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