Joe Biden takes oath of office to become 46th President of United States


Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th President of the United States of America.

President Biden took the oath of office on the steps of the US Capitol building, just two weeks after it was the target of a violent siege by supporters of his predecessor Donald Trump.

The pared down ceremony, which was attended by around a thousand invited guests, was subject to unprecedented security measures, with much of downtown Washington DC closed to traffic and patrolled by members of the National Guard.

Opening the ceremony, Senator Amy Klobuchar said: “Two weeks ago when an angry violent mob staged an insurrection and desecrated our temple of democracy it awakened us.

“This is the day our democracy picks itself up and does what America always does.”

Lady Gaga sang the US National Anthem dressed in a dramatic black and red dress with an enormous gold brooch.

Jennifer Lopez performed ‘This Land is Your Land’ and ‘America the Beautiful’.

He was sworn in by John Roberts, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, on the Biden family bible – a five-inch thick tome which has been in his family for 127 years.

He took the oath on the same holy book twice as Vice President, and for every time he was sworn in as a senator since 1973.



Joe Biden and wife Dr Jill Biden arrive for the inauguration
Joe Biden and wife Dr Jill Biden arrive for the inauguration



More than 200,000 flags were planted on the National Mall
More than 200,000 flags were planted on the National Mall

Outgoing President Donald Trump chose not to attend the ceremony, and has still not officially conceded that he lost last year’s bitter and divisive election.

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He became only the third President to choose not to attend his successor’s inauguration – and one of only two living former President not on the Capitol steps to see President Biden take the oath.

Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were all in attendance, as were former first ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton. Jimmy Carter, now aged 96, sent his apologies.



Lady Gaga performing the national anthem
Lady Gaga performing the national anthem

Instead, Trump held a leaving ceremony of his own at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, before being flown on Air Force One to Florida to begin his retirement.

Trump told supporters “we will back in some form” in a rambling, incoherent farewell speech in front of a sparse crowd at the airfield.

Following his victory in November, Biden promised to be a President “for all Americans” – aiming to heal the divides riven through the nation during four years of unprecedented tumult under Trump.

Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris made history as the first woman and the first person of colour to become Vice President.



The Bidens arriving at the Capitol
The Bidens arriving at the Capitol

She was sworn in by Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was the first Hispanic and Latina member of the Supreme Court.

Arriving on the Capitol steps with husband Doug Emhoff – the first ‘Second Gentleman’ – Vice President Harris greeted former President Barack Obama with a double fist-bump.

In 2017, the Trump administration began with a furious and fabulist fight about crowd sizes, as the President desperate to be more popular than his predecessor claimed more people had watched his inauguration than Barack Obama’s.

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Four years on, there was no crowd on the National Mall to see Biden’s inauguration. Instead, almost 200,000 flags were arranged along the Mall, representing Americans who couldn’t attend.



Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and husband Doug Emhoff
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and husband Doug Emhoff



Kamala Harris fist-bumps former President Barack Obama
Kamala Harris fist-bumps former President Barack Obama

The public art display, called the ‘Field of Flags’ was designed with 56 pillars of light to symbolise all 50 states and US territories.

Last night, Biden and Harris attended a moving vigil outside the Lincoln memorial, commemorating the now 400,000 Americans who have died from Covid-19 during the pandemic.

Some 400 white columns were illuminated around the reflecting pool, as Grammy-winning gospel singer Yolanda Adams sang Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ and Washington’s National Cathedral tolled a mournful bell.

An invocation was read by Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the Archbishop of Washington, and Lori Marie Key — a Michigan Covid-19 nurse who became famous for singing ‘Amazing Grace’ during a shift change sang the hymn again.

Iconic structures across the United States, including the Empire State Building, were lit up in solidarity during the memorial service, and the public were encouraged to light candles in their windows and ring bells to mark the moment.

Biden served for eight years as Vice President under Barack Obama – after launching several White House bids of his own going back to 1987.

But his 47-year career in public office has been peppered with tragedy.

The week before Christmas in 1972 – just weeks after he was first elected to the Senate – Biden’s wife Neilia and daughter Naomi were killed in a car accident. His sons, Beau and Hunter, survived.

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Biden took the oath of office for the first time in a hospital so he could remain by his children’s bedside.

In 1977, he married Jill Jacobs, whom he had met on a blind date. Four years later they had a daughter, Ashley.



The 'Field of Flags' replaced the usual crowds in front of the Capitol
The ‘Field of Flags’ replaced the usual crowds in front of the Capitol



Last night's light service in front of the Lincoln Memorial
Last night’s light service in front of the Lincoln Memorial

As First Lady, Dr Jill Biden intends to keep her job as a professor of English.

Seven years into his tenure as Vice President, Biden was dealt another devastating blow.

Son Beau, once Attorney General of Delaware, died aged 46 after falling ill with brain cancer.

And his younger son, Hunter, has been the subject of controversy.

A recovering drug addict, Hunter was targeted by Trump over his business dealings in Ukraine. He is subject to a federal investigation over the claims, though President Biden is not implicated.





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