President Biden takes the helm, appeals for unity to take on crises; Vice President Harris: A new chapter opens in US politics
In a time of tumult and a confluence of crises, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, declaring that “democracy has prevailed” and summoning American resilience and unity to confront the deeply divided nation's historic and cataclysmic woes.
Denouncing a national “uncivil war,” Biden took the oath, calling for unity, at a U.S. Capitol that had been battered by an insurrectionist siege just two weeks earlier, Jonathan Lemire, Zeke Miller and Alexandra Jaffe report.
Then, taking his place in the White House Oval Office, he plunged into a stack of executive actions that began to undo the heart of his polarizing predecessor's agenda on matters from the deadly pandemic to climate change.
AP will be closely watching the first full day of the Biden administration to see what it pushes forward on the coronavirus front. Biden takes office as the virus continues to surge and as states complain they are running out of vaccine doses.
What steps does the nascent administration take to bring it under control and ensure a better distribution and administration of the vaccine? You can follow all those developments here.
BREAKING: Dr. Anthony Fauci says President Biden will today order the U.S. to support projects to deploy COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics to people in need around the world. Fauci also says Washington will cease reducing U.S. staff counts at the World Health Organization and will pay its financial obligations to it.
Kamala Harris: Vice President Kamala Harris broke the barrier that has kept men at the top of American power for more than two centuries. The former California senator became the first female vice president in the nation's history, as well as the first Black woman and first person of South Asian descent to hold the position. She later cast the moment as one that embodied “American aspiration" as she addressed the nation for the first time as vice president near the Lincoln Memorial. She praised Americans as “undaunted in our belief that we shall overcome." Kathleen Ronyane and Alexandra Jaffe report.
Analysis: Biden appealed to Americans to move past their deep divisions. He cast unity as the only path out of the challenges facing the nation, which include a spiraling pandemic, economic uncertainty, racial tensions, deep partisanship and a growing divide over truth versus lies. He spoke from the same steps of the U.S. Capitol that were overrun by violent rioters just two weeks ago. He called on Americans to end “this uncivil war.” His words felt less like rhetorical flourishes and more like an urgent appeal to stabilize a country reeling from multiple crises, AP Washington Bureau Chief Julie Pace writes.
The Scene: Washington couldn’t turn the page quickly enough from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. Trump's voice faded from the capital he had animated and antagonized since 2017 as he flew to Florida, with his last trip on Air Force One tuned in to Biden's inauguration on television. And quite suddenly, at least for the moment, the old ways were back: reverence of custom, rituals dating back two centuries, scenes of grace, calls for unity. Four years after Trump’s dark portrayal of “American carnage,” Biden set out his intent on the same platform of the flag-bedecked Capitol to write “an American story of hope," Calvin Woodward writes.
The Uneasy Transition: When it gazes into the mirror, the United States does not generally see a land of process and procedure. It sees what it has wanted to see since the beginning — a place of action and results and volume. The bold, splashy storylines that Americans crave, and have used to construct their nation, don't always play well with repetition and routine, Ted Anthony writes. But the inauguration showed just how important continuity can be in American life, even these days.
Racial Injustice: Biden issued a strong repudiation of white supremacy and domestic terrorism seen on the rise under Donald Trump. Compared with his immediate predecessors, three of whom attended the inauguration, Biden is the first president to directly address the ills of white supremacy in an inaugural speech. Biden delivered his address where an insurrectionist mob, including people espousing racist and anti-Semitic views, tried and failed to stop Congress from certifying his Electoral College victory, Kat Stafford and Aaron Morrison report.
Post-Truth: Biden declared truth and democracy are under attack in America and pledged to usher the post-truth era out of U.S. politics. He didn’t mention Donald Trump by name, but Biden's words were a clear rebuke of his predecessor. It was Trump who persuaded millions of Americans to believe in his reality, which included falsehoods about issues such as the virus and election fraud. Biden said Americans need to defend truth and defeat lies. It's a difficult message to push in a bitterly divided nation where about one-third of Americans remain skeptical about the outcome of the election, Deb Riechmann reports.
Who's in Charge: The Biden and Trump administrations swapped out senior leadership of the federal government in a ritualized end to a historically rough presidential election. Biden's inauguration put acting heads in charge of federal agencies pending Senate approval of his permanent picks for the jobs, Ellen Knickmeyer reports.
VIDEO: Biden takes oath, says 'democracy has prevailed.'
VIDEO: Biden in speech says 'without unity there is no peace.'
VIDEO: Harris sworn in as 1st Black, South Asian woman VP.
PHOTOS: Biden takes oath, inherits confluence of crises.
AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s fiction in his goodbye to Washington.
Republicans; For the first time in more than a decade, Republicans are waking up to a Washington where Democrats control the White House and Congress, adjusting to an era of diminished power, deep uncertainty and internal feuding. At the heart of the Republican reckoning lies a fundamental question with no clear answer: Without Trump, what does the modern-day Republican Party stand for? Republicans have just begun to decide whether to continue down the road of Trump's norm-shattering populism or return to the party's conservative roots, Steve Peoples reports.
QAnon: The inauguration has sown a mixture of anger, confusion and disappointment among believers in the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory. On social media, Trump's departure from the White House prompted a crisis of faith among QAnon supporters. Many believed that Trump would be orchestrating mass arrests, military tribunals and executions of his Satan-worshipping, child-sacrificing enemies, Michael Kunzelman, Amanda Seitz and David Klepper report.
Inauguration Celebrities: Stars ranging from Lady Gaga to Bruce Springsteen capped a star-studded inauguration. A day of celebration for the new administration ended late last night with Katy Perry belting out “Firework” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as pyrotechnics lit up the night sky around Washington.
Hours earlier, Gaga belted out the national anthem in a very Gaga way with flamboyance, fashion and passion. She was followed by Jennifer Lopez, dressed all in white, who threw a line of Spanish into her medley of “This Land is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful,” and Garth Brooks, who hugged former presidents after performing “Amazing Grace.” Jocelyn Noveck reports.
VIDEO: Bidens watch fireworks from White House balcony.