Democrat Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States Wednesday, just before 12 pm EST, taking the oath of office on the United States Capitol steps.
“Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office shortly before noon when Mr. Biden officially became president,” CBS reported. “Mr. Biden addressed the nation minutes after Vice President Kamala Harris was first sworn in, making history as the first woman and person of color to become second in line to the presidency.
Biden took the oath in front of three former presidents, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, the full Supreme Court, now-former Vice President Mike Pence, as well as his wife and family, including his embattled son, Hunter. Now-former President Donald Trump departed the White House early Wednesday morning and was on his way to his estate in Florida during the swearing-in ceremony.
Biden’s oath of office effectively ends nearly two months of controversy over his election, with the now-former president, Trump, insisting that he, actually, prevailed in the November contest but was denied his second term by widespread vote fraud. He acknowledged Biden as the next president only in January, after a number of Trump supporters stormed the United States Capitol after a rally in Washington, D.C., leaving five people dead and dozens injured.
In his inaugural speech, Biden focused on a message of unity, urging Americans to come together in order to defeat the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and enact his presidential agenda.
“This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day,” Biden said. “Today we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause. The cause of democracy. The people, the will of the people, has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded.”
Biden referenced the Capitol Hill attack directly, calling the incident the work of an “angry, violent mob,” but acknowledged that, despite the riot, there was a largely peaceful transfer of power.
“Democracy is precious, democracy is fragile, and at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed,” Biden said.
Biden’s inauguration looked markedly different from previous ones, with the National Mall largely closed to guests, other than a handful of invited dignitaries, members of Congress, and prominent Democrats, and a large National Guard presence guarding the United States Capitol, the White House, and other landmarks. Instead of a crowd, Biden’s “audience” was hundreds of flags representing residents of the 50 states.
Biden and Harris will take part in a traditional review of the military in front of the Capitol building this afternoon, but both the expected inaugural parade and the inaugural ball will be “virtual.” Wednesday night, Biden and Harris will take part in a television special hosted by actor Tom Hanks. The special will be streamed live on “YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Twitch; and will be available on Amazon Prime Video, Microsoft Bing, NewsNOW from Fox, and AT&T DirecTV and U-verse,” according to media.