Biden is in, Trump is out
Washington: Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on Wednesday in a historic but scaled down ceremony under the unprecedented security umbrella of thousands of security personnel, who transformed the Capitol into a fortress to prevent any breach by pro-Trump extremists.
The 78-year-old veteran Democratic leader was administered the oath of office by Chief Justice John Roberts at the West Front of the Capitol – the traditional location for presidential inaugural ceremonies.
The inauguration was held under the unprecedented security umbrella of more than 25,000 National Guards, who have transformed the capital into a garrison city, mainly because of the threat of more violent protests by the supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump, who became the first president to skip his successor’s inauguration since Andrew Johnson in 1869.
Biden, who is the oldest president in American history, took the oath by placing his left hand on his 127-year-old family Bible, which was held by his wife, Jill Biden. He used the same Bible during his swearing in as vice president and seven times as senator from Delaware.
The ceremony was attended by former presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton. Former first ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton were also present.
Biden enters the White House with the top challenge to lift the country from the devastation of a raging pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans and thrown millions into economic distress. Revival of the economy, which has been badly bruised by the pandemic, is another challenge that he faces.
Meanwhile, Indian-origin Kamala Harris was sworn in as America’s first woman Vice President during a historic inauguration at the West Front of the Capitol.
Harris, 56, the 49th US Vice President, will serve as the deputy of President Joe Biden, 78, who also took the oath of office, becoming the 46th US President.
Harris took over the office of the US Vice President from 61-year-old Mike Pence. Biden succeeded President Donald Trump, 74.
Harris, the daughter of an Indian immigrant from Chennai, scripted history by becoming the first-ever woman Vice President of the United States. She is also the first female, first Black and first South Asian American vice president.
Her husband Douglas Emhoff, 56, is the first Second Gentleman’ – the first male spouse of a vice president in the US.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina member of the Supreme Court, administered the oath of office to Harris.
She was sworn in on two Bibles – one that belonged to a close family friend named Regina Shelton and another that belonged to Thurgood Marshall – the country’s first African American Supreme Court justice.
The inauguration, which was held in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, saw no large gatherings as the Presidential Inaugural Committee and local law enforcement officials had asked the public not to travel to Washington DC for the event.
Elaborate security arrangements were put in place for the historic inauguration following the January 6 riot at the Capitol by supporters of outgoing President Trump.
The event was held under the unprecedented security umbrella of over 25,000 National Guards, who have transformed the capital into a garrison city, mainly because of the threat of more violent protests by the supporters of Trump.
Trump on Tuesday extended “best wishes” to the new administration in a farewell video address.
Trump has not only refused to concede the elections for more than two months, but also did not invite his successor to the White House as is the custom.
The ceremony was attended by former presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton. Former first ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton are also set to attend the event.
Biden and Harris will attend a traditional Pass in Review with members of the military on the East Front of the Capitol, signifying the peaceful transfer of power to a new commander-in-chief.
Biden, Harris and their spouses will visit Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, where they will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
After the wreath ceremony, they will head to the White House, where they will get a presidential escort. That will kick off the virtual “Parade Across America,” featuring performances from all 56 states and territories.
The new administration enters the White House with the top challenge to lift the country from the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed over 400,000 Americans and thrown millions into economic distress. Revival of the economy, which has been badly bruised by the pandemic, is another challenge that he faces.
Meanwhile, the American capital has been virtually turned into a garrison city, amidst multiple reports of threats and more armed violence by pro-Trump supporters to disrupt the events.
The area in and around Capitol Hill, a large part of Pennsylvania Avenue and the White House has been made out of bounds for the general public with eight-feet high iron barricades being erected.
In addition to converting downtown Washington D.C. into a fortress, security in and around 50 State Capitols has also been put on high alert to ensure a peaceful transition of power.
US defence officials say they are also worried about an insider attack or other threat from service members involved in securing Biden’s inauguration, prompting the FBI to vet all of the 25,000 National Guard troops deployed for the event. (PTI)