22-Year Old Poet Amanda Gorman Stuns At Biden Inaugural

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: American poet Amanda Gorman reads a poem during the the 59th inaugural ceremony on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images/AFP

 

Poet Amanda Gorman on Wednesday became a sudden star at age 22 at President Joe Biden’s inauguration as she recited verse inspired by the Capitol attack, touching on how democracy “can never be permanently defeated.”

Gorman was the youngest poet to recite at an inauguration, a role first given to Robert Frost by John F. Kennedy in 1961, after First Lady Jill Biden saw one of Gorman’s readings and invited her to participate at the Capitol steps.

Gorman said that she had been writing a few lines a day but stayed awake at night out of a compulsion to complete her inauguration poem, “The Hill We Climb,” following the January 6 ransacking of the Capitol by supporters of then president Donald Trump who hoped to undo Biden’s victory.

“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it / Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy,” she recited.

“And this effort very nearly succeeded / But while democracy can be periodically delayed, / It can never be permanently defeated.”

Gorman, who graduated from Harvard University last year, was the first to hold the role of national youth poet laureate by the Library of Congress and earlier held a similar honor in Los Angeles, where she has started a non-profit group to promote literacy.

 

Amanda Gorman is applauded after she recited a poem during the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the US Capitol in Washington, Washington, DC. (Photo by JONATHAN ERNST / POOL / AFP)

 

She has previously written about the struggle for racial equality and the #MeToo movement against sexual assault.

Showing both composure and joy as she took the podium moments after Biden, Gorman opened her reading by speaking of how “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.”

Among her previous works, Gorman wrote “Tyrants Fear the Poet” to address the 2017 white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia — an episode that Biden said motivated him to challenge Trump, who had said the crowd included “very fine people on both sides.”

In an interview with National Public Radio, Gorman said that she grew up with a speech impediment in which she could not pronounce certain letters — a trait she shares with Biden, who has been open about his struggles with stuttering.

Her reading triggered loud applause at the inauguration and an avalanche of praise on social media.

“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise!” tweeted daytime television queen Oprah Winfrey, drawing a parallel to another celebrated writer, the late Maya Angelou, who read at Bill Clinton’s first inauguration.

Joanne Liu, the former president of Doctors Without Borders, called Gorman’s recitation “the most inspiring 5:43 minutes for the longest time.”

Below, a full transcript of Gorman’s poem that has everyone talking.

 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Amanda Gorman recites a poem during the inauguration in Washington, DC.  Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images/AFP

 

Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb” Poem Transcript

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 we carry, a sea.
We must wade.
We’ve braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace.
And the norms and notions of what just is, isn’t always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that it isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and the 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 we’ll 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 to glade the hill we climb.
If only we dare it’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.

We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside

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, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption.
We feared it in its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of 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 benevolence, 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 merged mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy, and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one.

For there was always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it.

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 limbed hills of the West.
We will rise from the wind swept to Northeast where our forefathers first realized the revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the middle Western States.
We will arise from the sun baked South.
We will rebuild, reconciled and recover and every known nook over our nation.

And 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 balloons, 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.

 

 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman speaks during the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.  Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

As Pandemic Worsens, Biden Unveils Ambitious COVID-19 Strategy

Healthcare workers attend to a patient at the Covid-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Hospital Del Mar in Barcelona on January 20, 2021. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP)

 

Joe Biden’s administration unveiled a detailed COVID-19 roadmap Thursday to boost vaccinations and testing while centering scientific expertise, after the new US president warned during his inaugural speech the pandemic was entering its “deadliest period.” 

Officials said Biden would immediately sign 10 executive orders and other directives to jumpstart the national strategy, which experts said was sorely missing under his predecessor Donald Trump.

The US is the world’s hardest-hit country with more than 405,000 deaths, and government models suggest the B.1.1.7 variant imported from Britain could supercharge the outbreak’s trajectory in the coming months.

“For almost a year now, Americans could not look to the federal government for any strategy, let alone a comprehensive approach to respond to Covid,” Jeff Zients, a former management consultant who is Biden’s new Covid-19 task force coordinator, told reporters.

“As president Biden steps into office today, that all changes,” he added.

Biden’s presidency will initially be shaped by his response to Covid-19 and the associated economic emergency.

Whereas Trump seldom acknowledged the tragic toll the virus was inflicting on Americans, Biden paused in his inaugural address — which the public was essentially barred from attending due to the pandemic — to offer a moment’s silent prayer for its victims.

– ‘Restoring trust’ –
The plan has organized goals like restoring the trust of the American people, surging the vaccination campaign, and mitigating viral spread through aggressive masking and testing, while expanding the public health workforce.

It also seeks to expand emergency relief and invoke emergency legislation to increase industrial production; safely reopen schools, businesses and travel; protect the most vulnerable and advance racial equity; and restore US global leadership with future pandemic preparedness.

The administration is seeking $1.9 trillion from Congress for its plans, which includes $20 billion for vaccines and $50 billion for testing.

Taken as a whole, the strategy amounts to a more closely coordinated approach than that of the previous administration, which sidelined key agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sought to censor recommendations by prominent scientists, and said individual states should do what seems right for them.

Some of the measures were already announced in recent days, including recommending that the eligibility criteria for vaccine priority groups be widened and simplified in order to increase the rate of shots being injected.

As it stands, the federal government has overseen the allocation of 35.9 million doses to states, of which 16.5 million have been used — or 46 percent.

The figure is well below targets set by the Trump administration, but the administration rate has been steadily ticking up in recent days.

– Vaccine blitz –
New White House vaccines coordinator Bechara Choucair restated the administration’s intention to bring online thousands of federal vaccination centers as well as the mobilization of thousands more workers to help.

These plans would bring the financial and logistical clout of the federal government in the fight against the virus — again, an element that had largely been missing.

The administration will also continue the policy of rolling out vaccine doses for Pfizer and Moderna’s two-shot regimes as soon as they become available.

The Trump team had initially set aside the booster as reserve, but later changed course after running low on supply.

Executive orders would also be advanced to establish a pandemic testing board, to boost research efforts into treatments, and create a Health Equity Task Force.

This group, headed by Yale associate professor Marcella Nunez-Smith, will advise the president on allocating resources and funding in communities affected by inequities linked to race, geography and disability.

The administration also plans to invoke the Defense Production Act to boost supply of personal protective equipment, lab equipment and to maximize vaccine production.

Tim Manning, who will coordinate supply chain issues, told reporters he had identified 12 supply shortfalls where the law could be invoked.

Biden’s team has relentlessly criticized the Trump administration in recent weeks over its failure in particular to adequately plan for the last mile of its Covid response and get vaccines developed at record speed into arms.

An early test will be whether they achieve their own goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans within Biden’s first 100 days in office, by April 20.

US’ Historic Inauguration Day In Pictures

 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Joe Biden is sworn in as U.S. President during his inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

 

Joe Biden on Wednesday became the 46th president of the United States with a call to unity, vowing to bridge deep divides and defeat domestic extremism two weeks after a mob attack tried to undo his election victory.

On a frigid but sunny day at the very Capitol building that was assaulted on January 6, Biden swore the oath of office moments after Kamala Harris, who became America’s first woman vice president, turning the page on Donald Trump’s tumultuous four years.

“Democracy is precious, democracy is fragile and at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed,” Biden said before a National Mall that was virtually empty due to the ultra-tight security and a raging Covid-19 pandemic that he vowed to confront immediately.

“We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts, if we show a little tolerance and humility and we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes.”

“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 healings and goodness.”

But Trump, who falsely said that he was cheated out of a second term and egged on his supporters before their rampage at the Capitol, broke 152 years of tradition by refusing to attend his successor’s inauguration.

Biden appealed to Trump’s supporters, pledging to listen to all sides after four years of deep polarization in which Trump belittled minority groups and tried to cast doubts on basic facts.

“I will be a president for all Americans.”

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Former president Barack Obama hugs First Lady Dr. Jill Biden during the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: U.S. President Joe Biden reacts after being sworn in during his inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP

 

US President-elect Joe Biden and incoming US First Lady Jill Biden are welcomed by former US President Barack Obama and former US First Lady Michelle Obama as they arrive before his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the US Capitol in Washington,DC on January 20, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / POOL / AFP)

 

US President-elect Joe Biden and US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris sit ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th US President on January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP)

 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Jennifer Lopez is escorted to the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFP

 

Kamala Harris (L) bumps fists with US President-elect Joe Biden (R) after being sworn in as the 49th US Vice President on January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo by JONATHAN ERNST / POOL / AFP)

 

US President-elect Joe Biden (L) greets former US President Barack Obama, with a fist bump during the inauguration of the 46th US President on January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY / POOL / AFP)

 

US President Joe Biden delivers his inauguration speech on January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. – Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the US. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)

 

Jennifer Lopez performed a medley of songs during Wednesday’s inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

 

Incoming US Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff and US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris wave as they arrive for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th US President on January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC.
OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP

 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden arrive to Biden’s inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.  Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris greets Vice President Mike Pence as she arrives to the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.  Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and husband Doug Emhoff arrive to the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.  Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFP

 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Former U.S. President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama arrive to the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

 

US President Joe Biden (L) and US First Lady Jill Biden (R), hug as they arrive at the White House in Washington, DC, after Biden and Harris were sworn in at the US Capitol on January 20, 2021. (Photo by Alex Brandon / POOL / AFP)

 

US President Joe Biden’s car rolls on 15th street towards the White House during a Presidential Escort to the White House, January 20, 2021 in Washington. (Photo by Jose Luis Magana / POOL / AFP)

 

US President Joe Biden sits in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, after being sworn in at the US Capitol on January 20, 2021.  (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP)

 

US National Guard troops carry riot shields as they assume positions in the vicinity of the US Capitol as the Inauguration of US President-Elect Joe Biden in Washington, DC begins on January 20, 2021. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP)

 

Former US President George W. Bush, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), former US President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama arrive at the inauguration of US President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the US Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. – During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis / POOL / AFP)

 

US President Joe Biden (L) and First Lady Jill Biden (2nd L) appear on the Blue Room Balcony as they and family members (R) watch fireworks from the White House in Washington, DC on January 20, 2021. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP)

 

US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is sworn in as the 49th US Vice President by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. – During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / POOL / AFP)

 

High winds forces a hat to blow by US President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, US. Vice President Kamala Harris and First Gentleman Douglas Emhoff as they stand on the east steps of the US Capitol watching the troops march in Washington, DC on January 20, 2021. (Photo by David Tulis / POOL / AFP)

 

US President Joe Biden (L) kisses his wife US First Lady Jill Biden after being sworn in during his inauguration as the 46th US President on January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo by Andrew Harnik / POOL / AFP)

 

US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris arrive to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on January 20, 2021. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP)

 

US President Joe Biden (C L) hugs First Lady Jill Biden as they arrive at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2021. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP)

 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley (R) arrives at the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Family members of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris attend the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) arrives at the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Flags line the National Mall before the start of the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/AFP
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Former U.S. President Bill Clinton arrives with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFP
Outgoing US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump descend Marine One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on January 20, 2021. – President Trump travels his Mar-a-Lago golf club residence in Palm Beach, Florida, and will not attend the inauguration for President-elect Joe Biden. (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN / AFP)
Former US President Barack Obama and Former US First Lady Michelle Obama arrive for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th US President on January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP)

(L-R) Doug Emhoff, US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, incoming US First Lady Jill Biden, US President-elect Joe Biden, Missouri Senator Roy Blunt and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar arrive for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th US President on January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS / AFP)
Outgoing US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump walk from Marine One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on January 20, 2021. – President Trump travels his Mar-a-Lago golf club residence in Palm Beach, Florida, and will not attend the inauguration for President-elect Joe Biden. (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN / AFP)
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: President Donald Trump boards Marine One as he departs the White House on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump is making his scheduled departure from the White House for Florida, several hours ahead of the inauguration ceremony for his successor Joe Biden, making him the first president in more than 150 years to refuse to attend the inauguration. Eric Thayer/Getty Images/AFP
Ivanka Trump (C), husband Jared Kushner (C-L), their children, Eric (R) and Donald Jr. (2nd R), Tiffany Trump (L) and Trump family members stand on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland as they arrive for US President Donald Trump’s departure on January 20, 2021. – President Trump travels to his Mar-a-Lago golf club residence in Palm Beach, Florida, and will not attend the inauguration for President-elect Joe Biden. (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN / AFP)

 

‘This Is Democracy’s Day’, Says Biden

US President Joe Biden delivers his inauguration speech on January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. – Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the US. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)

 

US President Joe Biden called for “unity” moments after his inauguration in Washington on Wednesday, warning of the challenges ahead as he takes on multiple crises.

“This is America’s day, this is democracy’s day. A day of history and hope,” he said on the steps of the US Capitol after his swearing-in.

But as the US confronts the deadly coronavirus and deep political divisions he warned that to overcome its challenges will require “so much more than words, it will require the most elusive of all things in a democracy, unity.”

Kamala Harris Sworn In As US Vice President

Kamala Harris (L) flanked by US Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, is sworn in as the 49th US Vice President by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. SAUL LOEB / POOL / AFP

 

Former California Senator Kamala Harris was sworn in as vice president of the United States on Wednesday, the first woman ever to hold the post.

Harris, 56, took the oath of office from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a ceremony at the US Capitol.

She is the first Black woman and the first woman of South Asian descent to become US vice president.

Biden Begins Inauguration, Vowing ‘New Day’

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden arrive to Biden’s inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

 

Joe Biden arrived Wednesday to be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, vowing a “new day” for the United States after four years of tumult under Donald Trump who in an extraordinary final act snubbed the inauguration.

Two weeks to the day after Trump supporters violently rampaged at the US Capitol to overturn the election results, Biden headed to the same very steps alongside Kamala Harris, who will become the first woman vice president.

 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and husband Doug Emhoff arrive to the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFP

“It’s a new day in America,” Biden wrote on Twitter before the inauguration as, in a sign of his push for unity, he prayed alongside congressional leaders at a Roman Catholic church.

Biden, who at 78 will be the oldest president in US history and only the second Catholic, takes office amid enormous challenges with the still-raging Covid-19 pandemic having claimed 400,000 lives in the United States.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris greets Vice President Mike Pence as she arrives to the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

Central Washington has taken on the dystopian look of an armed camp, protected by some 25,000 National Guard troops tasked with preventing any repeat of the January 6 attack that left five dead. The Supreme Court reported a bomb threat Wednesday morning.

With the general public essentially barred from attending due to the pandemic, Biden’s audience at the National Mall instead was 200,000 flags planted to represent the absent crowds.

“It’s a day a lot of us have been trying to visualize for a long time. We couldn’t have guessed that the visual would be quite like this,” Pete Buttigieg, the former presidential contender tapped by Biden as transportation secretary, told reporters.

 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Former U.S. President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama arrive to the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

Biden, who was vice president under Barack Obama and first ran for president in 1987, plans to kick off his tenure with a flurry of 17 orders to turn the page on Trump’s divisive reign.

Officials said Biden will immediately rejoin the Paris climate accord and stop the US exit from the World Health Organization and set new paths on immigration, the environment, Covid-19 and the economy.

 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) arrives at the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

 

 

 

He will also end Trump’s much-assailed ban on visitors from several majority-Muslim countries and halt construction of the wall that Trump ordered on the US-Mexico border to stem illegal immigration, the aides said.

 

Outgoing US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump descend Marine One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on January 20, 2021. – President Trump travels his Mar-a-Lago golf club residence in Palm Beach, Florida, and will not attend the inauguration for President-elect Joe Biden. (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN / AFP)

Trump vows to be back

For the first time in 152 years, the sitting president did not accompany his successor to the inauguration after Trump for two months falsely alleged that fraud cost him a second term.

Several hours before the inauguration, Trump, 74, and first lady Melania Trump walked a short red carpet on the White House lawn to the Marine One helicopter, which flew near the inauguration-ready Capitol before heading to Andrews Air Force Base on Washington’s outskirts.

“This has been an incredible four years,” Trump told several hundred cheering supporters in a campaign-style event before flying off for the last time in Air Force One en route to his Florida resort.

“We will be back in some form,” vowed Trump, who retains a hold on much of the Republican Party despite being the first president to be impeached twice.

Trump did not address Biden by name but, in a rare hint of graciousness, wished the next administration “great luck and great success.”

A spokesman said Trump maintained one tradition by leaving a letter for Biden, although the contents were unknown.

Mike Pence, the outgoing vice president who clashed with Trump in his final days by acknowledging he could not overturn the election, was attending the inauguration alongside former presidents Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and their wives — including Hillary Clinton, for whom Biden’s victory was especially sweet four years after her narrow, surprise defeat to Trump.

Last-minute Trump pardons

In one of his last acts before departing the White House, Trump issued scores of pardons to people convicted of crimes or facing charges, including several key allies.

Influential former Trump aide Steve Bannon — charged with defrauding people over funds raised to build the Mexico border wall, a flagship Trump policy — was among 73 people on a list released by the White House.

However, neither Trump nor his relatives were listed, amid speculation he could use the legally dubious tactic of a preemptive pardon to fend off future charges.

Former Trump fund-raiser Elliott Broidy was similarly pardoned, after pleading guilty last year to conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws.

The rapper Lil Wayne, who last month pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, and faced 10 years in jail, also made the list.

Trump will still be in focus at the Capitol as the Senate considers convicting him after he was impeached for inciting the mob earlier this month.

The spectacle will clash with the opening days of Biden’s tenure, as the new president seeks to swiftly confirm his Cabinet picks and push through ambitious legislation — including a $1.9 trillion rescue package.

Many overseas leaders breathed a sigh of relief at the end of Trump’s hawkish, go-it-alone presidency, with Biden’s team pledging greater cooperation with the rest of the world.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani hailed the departure of “tyrant” Trump, saying “the ball is in America’s court” to return to a landmark nuclear deal and lift sanctions on Tehran.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said Biden’s inauguration would “be a demonstration of the resilience of American democracy,” as well as “the resounding proof that, once again, after four long years, Europe has a friend in the White House.”

World Leaders Congratulate US President Biden

US President Joe Biden delivers his inauguration speech on January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. – Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the US. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)

 

World leaders said they were looking forward to working with US Joe Biden, as the Democrat was sworn in as president after four turbulent years under Donald Trump.

European Union

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, tweeted congratulations to both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, adding: “It’s time to bring back conviction & common sense and rejuvenate our EU-US relationship.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “Europe is ready for a fresh start.”

Iran

President Hassan Rouhani hailed the departure of “tyrant” Trump, Tehran having repeatedly called on Washington to lift sanctions imposed over its nuclear drive.

“We expect (the Biden administration) to return to law and to commitments, and try in the next four years, if they can, to remove the stains of the past four years,” said Rouhani.

Biden’s administration wants the United States back in the landmark Iran nuclear accord, from which Trump withdrew, provided Tehran returns to strict compliance.

Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Biden to “strengthen,” a long-standing alliance between the two countries.

“I look forward to working with you to further strengthen the US-Israel alliance, to continue expanding peace between Israel and the Arab world and to confront common challenges, chief among them the threat posed by Iran,” Netanyahu said in a video.

NATO

“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,” said NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg.

“NATO Allies need to stand together to address the security consequences of the rise of China, the threat of terrorism, including in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a more assertive Russia.”

The Vatican

Pope Francis urged Biden to promote “reconciliation and peace” around the world.

“At a time when the grave crises facing our human family call for far-sighted and united responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by a concern for building a society marked by authentic justice and freedom,” the pope said.

Russia

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would seek “good relations with the United States”, while a foreign ministry statement said they expected a “more constructive” approach to upcoming arms control talks.

The US and Russia are to discuss extending the landmark 2010 New START nuclear weapons accord shortly after Biden’s swearing in. The last remaining nuclear pact between the countries, it limits each side to 1,500 nuclear warheads and is set to expire February 5.

Germany

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, said he was “greatly relieved” Biden was replacing Trump as US president, calling it a “good day for democracy”.

Germany looked forward “to knowing we again have the US at our side as an indispensable partner” in addressing “the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, security issues, arms control and disarmament, and many urgent conflicts around the world”.

France

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said Biden’s commitments to rejoin the World Health Organization, which leads the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Paris climate treaty were “extremely important” following Trump’s exit from them.

Britain

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has faced criticism over his close relationship with Trump, said he was looking forward to “working closely” with Biden.

“In our fight against Covid and across climate change, defence, security and in promoting and defending democracy, our goals are the same and our nations will work hand in hand to achieve them,” he said.

Ireland

“Today a true friend of Ireland @JoeBiden became the 46th President of the USA,” Prime Minister Micheal Martin wrote on Twitter.

“It is a day of history and hope and I look forward to forging ever closer ties between our two great nations.”

Canada

“Our two countries are more than neighbours – we are close friends, partners, and allies,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, pledging Canada’s cooperation in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, for climate action and for a sustainable economic recovery.

India

Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi tweeted: “My warmest congratulations to @JoeBiden on his assumption of office as President of the United States of America. I look forward to working with him to strengthen India-US strategic partnership.”

Trump Mulling Pardons On Last Full Day In Power

File photo: US President Donald Trump holds up his fist as he leaves the stage at the end of a rally to support Republican Senate candidates at Valdosta Regional Airport in Valdosta, Georgia on December 5, 2020.. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)

 

President Donald Trump began his final full day in the White House Tuesday with a long list of possible pardons to dish out before snubbing his successor Joe Biden’s inauguration and leaving for Florida.

On Wednesday at noon, Biden will be sworn in and the Trump presidency will end, turning the page on some of the most disruptive, divisive years the United States has seen since the 1960s.

Biden, a veteran Democratic senator who also served as vice president to Barack Obama, was set to travel to Washington on Tuesday with his wife Dr Jill Biden from their hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

Together with incoming vice president Kamala Harris — the first woman ever to hold the job — Biden was due to deliver an evening address on the Covid-19 crisis, from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

By contrast, Trump has remained uncharacteristically silent as the clock ticks down to his departure to a new life in his Mar-a-Lago golf club residence in Palm Beach.

Banned by Twitter for his stream of inflammatory messages and misinformation, he has largely stopped communicating with the nation. He has also yet to congratulate Biden or invite him for the traditional pre-inauguration cup of tea in the Oval Office.

Instead, Trump has spent his time meeting with a dwindling circle of loyalists who backed him during a doomed, two-month effort to overturn the results of the November election.

That effort culminated on January 6 with Trump encouraging a crowd to march on Congress.

After the crowd broke through police, killing one officer, and trashed the hallowed Capitol building, Trump was impeached for the second time in just over a year — another first in a presidency of many firsts.

His final Gallup poll as president on Monday showed him exiting with 34 percent approval, his record low. Trump’s overall average of 41 percent since taking office is also the lowest for any presidency’s approval rating since Gallup began measuring in 1938.

Biden, meanwhile, is putting the finishing touches to an inauguration that will feature a small crowd and massive security — more fallout from the pro-Trump riot, on top of existing concerns about Covid-19.

– Pardons –
Trump issued a scattering of last-minute orders on Monday, most notably a lifting of the travel bans imposed because of the coronavirus on most of Europe and Brazil.

Under Trump’s order, borders were to have reopened from January 26, almost a week after he leaves office. Responding almost immediately, Biden’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the measure would not stand.

For Trump, the main piece of unfinished business is now the expected slew of pardons that he is reported to be preparing.

According to CNN and other US outlets, Trump has a list of about 100 people he will grant clemency to.

After what The New York Times reports has been an intense lobbying effort, these are expected to be a mix of white-collar criminals and people whose cases have been championed by criminal justice activists.

More controversial possible pardons that have been the subject of speculation for months would be for the likes of Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Trump’s influential advisor Stephen Bannon.

If Trump gave himself or his family a pardon — something currently not expected, according to latest US reports — that would likely harden anger among previously fully supportive Republicans in the Senate, which is expected to start an impeachment trial soon after Biden takes office.

– Unity and fear –
Biden’s inaugural speech is expected to focus on his appeals for Americans to reunite and to take on the Covid-19 pandemic with new seriousness.

He is also set to announce a dramatic shift away from Trump’s “America First” ideology, taking the United States back to its traditions of alliance-building. This will begin with the new president ordering the United States back into the Paris climate accord on day one.

But the 78-year-old Democrat’s fervent appeals for optimism and healing are running up against the hard reality of multiple crises.

Covid-19 is out of control, vaccine distribution is stumbling, and economic recovery remains in the balance. And after Trump’s refusal to accept the results of November’s presidential election, the country is seething.

Biden will take the oath of office on the steps of the Capitol under the protection of more than 20,000 National Guard soldiers. Checkpoints and large zones closed to ordinary citizens mean there will be only a smattering of guests.

The acting defense secretary said Monday that the military and FBI were vetting the National Guard troopers, who carry automatic weapons, in case any of them pose a threat.

– Inauguration snub –
Trump, the first president to lose reelection since George H.W. Bush was replaced by Bill Clinton, will also be the first ex-president to snub his successor’s inauguration in a century and a half.

On Wednesday, he will depart for Florida from the White House early, in order to benefit from full presidential travel privileges up to the last minute.

Marine One will take him from the White House to Joint Base Andrews to catch Air Force One — the presidential plane that, from noon, will no longer be his to use.

According to a Bloomberg report, Trump is organizing a military sendoff for himself at Andrews, watched by a crowd of invitees.

Inauguration: Biden To Sign Executive Orders On Day One Amid High Alert

US President-elect Joe Biden delivers a Thanksgiving address at the Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 25, 2020. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP
File photo: US President-elect Joe Biden delivers a Thanksgiving address at the Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 25, 2020. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP

 

Joe Biden’s top aide said Saturday the incoming president would sign about a dozen executive orders on his first day in office, as police fearing violence from Trump supporters staged a nationwide security operation ahead of the inauguration.

Authorities in Washington, where Wednesday’s inauguration will take place, said they arrested a man with a loaded handgun and more than 500 rounds of ammunition at a security checkpoint, underscoring the tension in the US capital which is resembling a war zone.

However, the man said it was “an honest mistake,” and that he was a private security guard who got lost on his way to work near the Capitol.

READ ALSO: Man With Gun, Over 500 Rounds Of Ammunition Arrested Near US Capitol

Incoming Biden chief of staff Ron Klain said in a memo to new White House senior staff that the executive orders would address the pandemic, the ailing US economy, climate change and racial injustice in America.

“All of these crises demand urgent action,” Klain said in the memo.

“In his first ten days in office, President-elect Biden will take decisive action to address these four crises, prevent other urgent and irreversible harms, and restore America’s place in the world,” Klain added.

As he inherits the White House from Donald Trump, Biden’s plate is overflowing with acute challenges.

 

This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and former Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP
This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and former Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP

 

The US is fast approaching 400,000 dead from the Covid-19 crisis and logging well over a million new cases a week as the coronavirus spreads out of control.

The economy is ailing, with 10 million fewer jobs available compared to the start of the pandemic. And millions of Americans who back Trump refuse to recognize Biden as the legitimate president.

Biden this week unveiled plans to seek $1.9 trillion to revive the economy through new stimulus payments and other aid, and plans a blitz to accelerate America’s stumbling Covid vaccine rollout effort.

On Inauguration Day Biden, as previously promised, will sign orders including ones for the US to rejoin the Paris climate accord and reverse Trump’s ban on entry of people from certain Muslim majority countries, Klain said.

“President-elect Biden will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward,” Klain said.

– 500 rounds of ammunition –
Meanwhile, Washington was under a state of high alert after a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6. The assault left five people dead, including a police officer.

Security officials have warned that armed pro-Trump extremists, possibly carrying explosives, pose a threat to Washington as well as state capitals over the coming week.

Thousands of National Guard troops have been deployed in Washington and streets have been blocked off downtown with concrete barriers.

On Friday night, police arrested a Virginia man at a security checkpoint where he tried to use an “unauthorized” credential to access the restricted area where Biden will be inaugurated.

As officers checked the credential, one noticed decals on the back of Wesley Beeler’s pick-up truck that said “Assault Life,” with an image of a rifle, and another with the message: “If they come for your guns, give ’em your bullets first,” according to a document filed in Washington, DC Superior Court.

Under questioning, Beeler told officers he had a Glock handgun in the vehicle. A search uncovered a loaded handgun, more than 500 rounds of ammunition, shotgun shells and a magazine for the gun, the court document said.

Beeler was arrested on charges including possession of an unregistered firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition.

“It was an honest mistake,” Beeler told The Washington Post after being released from jail.

“I pulled up to a checkpoint after getting lost in DC because I’m a country boy,” he said. “I showed them the inauguration badge that was given to me.”

Beeler told the newspaper he works as a private security guard near the Capitol, and presented a credential provided by his employer.

 

Flags and a podium are in place as preparations are made ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 16, 2021.ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP

 

He said he was licensed to carry his gun in Virginia, but forgot to take it out of his car before leaving home for his overnight shift in Washington.

Prosecutors did not object to Beeler’s release from jail, the Washington Post said, though he was ordered to stay out of Washington except for court-related matters.

In addition to the heavy security presence in the US capital, law enforcement was out in force at statehouses around the country to ward off potential political violence.

Mass protests that had been planned for the weekend did not materialize on Saturday, with security far outnumbering Trump supporters at several fortified capitols, US media reported.

In St Paul, Minnesota, for example, hundreds of law enforcement officers, some armed with long guns, ringed the Capitol with National Guard troops providing backup.

The number of protesters totaled about 50.

AFP

Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez To Perform At Biden Inauguration

Gaga, Biden, and Lopez

 

Pop superstar Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem during Joe Biden’s swearing-in as US president on January 20, with Jennifer Lopez also performing at the largely virtual event, it was announced Thursday.

The two music icons will headline an inauguration like no other, with security stepped up in Washington against threats by extremist supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump after they attacked the US Capitol last week in a bid to overturn the results of the election.

PITTSBURGH, PA – NOVEMBER 02: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Lady Gaga greet college students at Schenley Park on November 02, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. One day before the election, Biden is campaigning in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state that President Donald Trump won narrowly in 2016. (Photo by Drew Angerer)

 

Local authorities are asking people to stay away from the ceremonies to lessen the chances of unrest — and of the swearing-in turning into a Covid-19 superspreader event.

Instead, Biden’s inaugural committee said that it will broadcast five days of programming under the theme “America United” which “will honor inaugural traditions while safely allowing more Americans than ever before to participate from their own homes.”

The calendar includes “United We Serve,” a National Day of Service on January 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Day; a nationwide COVID-19 Memorial to Lives Lost on January 19; and wreath laying at Arlington National Cemetery on Inauguration Day.

 

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 30, 2020, Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show performer, US singer Jennifer Lopez holds holds a press conference in Miami. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)

In place of the hundreds of thousands of people who usually crowd the National Mall for the inauguration, the committee will install a “Field of Flags” which it said will “represent the American people who are unable to travel.”

– Scene of the attack –
The 90-minute “Celebrating America” inauguration show will be hosted by Tom Hanks and feature more musical performances, from Jon Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake and Demi Lovato, and will be broadcast on all major US networks, US media reported.

Gaga and Lopez will perform during the ceremony itself, held on the steps of the Capitol building, which still bears the scars of the January 6 attack.

 

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 02, 2020, US singer Lady Gaga performs prior to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaking during a Drive-In Rally at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP)

 

Gaga has been a vocal supporter of Biden, appearing at his campaign finale in Pittsburgh in November; while Lopez has been outspoken in recent months about Covid-19 relief efforts.

Some 20,000 National Guard soldiers are expected in Washington for Biden’s inauguration. The capital is already under heavy security, with much of downtown fenced off and under guard.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser has asked visitors to stay home due to the raging pandemic, and Airbnb has banned bookings in the capital around the time of the inauguration.

Aretha Franklin sang at Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, while Beyonce performed at his second four years later.

Trump — who on Wednesday became the first president to be impeached for a second time for inciting the Capitol “insurrection” — had to settle for less well-known artists in 2017 due to his unpopularity in the entertainment world. Country singer Toby Keith headlined the event.

The outgoing president, who claims the election was rigged to deny him victory, will not attend the inauguration.

Biden Inauguration: Worries As Homeland Security Chief Quits

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 05, 2020 Acting Homeland Security Security Chad Wolf, announces measures against online sexual exploitation during a press conference at the Department of Justice in Washington,DC.  (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

US Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced his resignation unexpectedly Monday as worries rose over more violence during President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week.

Wolf’s departure as head of the body in charge of security for the January 20 event came five days after President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol, hoping to prevent Biden from replacing him.

The Homeland Security Department oversees several law enforcement bodies including the Secret Service, the point agency for security for the White House and the US president.

Wolf, who said he was stepping down for procedural reasons, named Pete Gaynor, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to replace him.

But the move did not end questions over whether the US capital city would be adequately secure over the coming week.

An internal FBI document warned of the possibility that armed Trump supporters could hold protests in all 50 states between the coming weekend and January 20, according to US media.

The White House issued a statement saying that Trump had “declared that an emergency exists in the District of Columbia and ordered Federal assistance to supplement the District’s response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from the 59th Presidential Inauguration from January 11 to January 24, 2021.”

It said the order gave the Department of Homeland Security the authority to act “to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the District of Columbia.”

 

(FILES)Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, resigned January 11, 2021, amid rising worries over the possibility of more violence during President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week, a DHS official said. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP)

 

Meanwhile, federal and city officials continued to point fingers over who was responsible for the debacle at the Capitol last Wednesday, when the Congressional police force was overwhelmed by thousands of Trump supporters who succeeded in shutting down the legislature.

 More troops called up

The Pentagon said Monday it had authorized 15,000 National Guard troops to be deployed for Biden’s inauguration.

Already 6,200 troops are on the ground in Washington, and a total of 10,000 are planned by the coming weekend, said General Daniel Hokanson, chief of the Defense Department’s National Guard Bureau.

Another 5,000 could be deployed by the day of the inauguration, he said.

They will come equipped with riot gear and weapons, but so far they have not been authorized to arm themselves while on the streets of the US capital, he said.

Before he announced his departure, Wolf also ordered an acceleration of preparations by the Secret Service, citing “events of the past week and the evolving security landscape.”

Preparations for the event were moving quickly. A security fence has been built around the entire grounds of the Capitol, where Biden will take the oath of office as Trump’s successor.

‘Don’t come’

Still angry about last Wednesday’s violence, in which five people died, including a protester shot dead by police and a police officer who was attacked and died from his injuries, Washington mayor Muriel Bowser appealed to Biden backers to stay away from the capital on inauguration day.

Normally, hundreds of thousands of Americans — sometimes more than a million — flock to Washington for the quadrennial event.

“We are asking Americans not to come to Washington DC for the 59th presidential inauguration on January 20 and to instead participate virtually,” Bowser said.

Organizers said the Democratic president-elect would use the occasion to foster national unity, faced by a country deeply divided over politics and hobbled by the coronavirus pandemic.

He will be sworn in at the Capitol in front of the National Mall filled with flags rather than the usual hundreds of thousands of spectators.

Afterwards, he and three former US presidents — Trump won’t attend — will travel to Arlington National Cemetery, where thousands of US military war dead for veterans are buried, to lay a wreath.

But the preparations come as Democrats, accusing Trump of fomenting and applauding what they branded an “insurrection” and “coup” attempt last week, seek to force Trump from office prematurely.

That could further spark violence by Trump supporters, the FBI warned in a new internal advisory.

According to US media, the document says that far-right groups like the violent Boogaloo Boys are planning protests around the country timed to the inauguration.

One group, the FBI said, “warned that if Congress attempts to remove POTUS (Trump) via the 25th Amendment a huge uprising will occur,” ABC News reported.

Trump Tells Supporters To ‘Stay Peaceful’ As Protesters Storm Capitol

In this file photo taken on December 8, 2020 US President Donald Trump arrives for the Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House in Washington, DC. Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP.

 

US President Donald Trump called for “peaceful” protests on Wednesday after his supporters stormed the Capitol following a rally during which he urged Congress to reject Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory.

“Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement,” Trump said on Twitter more than an hour after protesters breached a security cordon.

“They are truly on the side of our Country,” Trump said. “Stay peaceful!”

The president tweeted again more than half an hour later as stunning scenes played out at the Capitol, with his supporters swarming the building and lawmakers going into lockdown.

 

Protesters gather outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S.  Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP

 

“I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful,” Trump said. “No violence!

“Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order -– respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue,” he said. “Thank you!”

READ ALSO: Mob Storms US Capitol As Trump Is Accused Of ‘Coup’

The House of Representatives and Senate went into recess as protesters disrupted a session called to certify the Electoral College votes from the November 3 presidential election.

Speaking at the rally before his supporters stormed the Capitol, Trump accused fellow Republicans who have refused to endorse his baseless claims of election fraud as “weak.”

“You’ll never take back our country with weakness,” Trump said. “You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”

AFP