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As it happened: Joe Biden sworn in as 46th President of the United States

Stay with us for live updates.

LAST UPDATE | 20 Jan 2021

JOE BIDEN HAS been sworn in as 46th President of the United States at the inauguration in Washington.

Throughout the day, we brought you all the updates as Biden called for unity as he took the reins from Donald Trump.

Here’s some further reading from the site today:

As you join us, Trump has left the White House for the final time as President. 


Marine One has now departed the White House lawn. 

trump Alex Brandon Alex Brandon

trump Alex Brandon Alex Brandon


Trump is stopping by for a military send-off at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland before setting off for Florida. 

As you may have heard, he will not be going to his successor’s inauguration. 

Speaking without a teleprompter, the outgoing president has been going over what he regards as his key accomplishments as president in his typically restrained style. 

The stock market is due to rocket upwards, he said – and Covid numbers will also go down “like a rocket”. 

He also touted the number of judicial appointments his administration had made. 

“We left it all on the field,” he added.

Paying tribute to those who had suffered during the pandemic, he again referred to Covid-19 as the “China virus”. 

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Before leaving the stage, Trump told the small crowd gathered at the base that he wished the next administration luck – adding that he believed they would be successful because of the strong foundation he had laid. 

Referring to the new administration – due to take office in just over three hours – Trump again declined to refer to Biden by name. 

Village People’s ‘YMCA’ – one of his campaign favourites – blared over the speakers as he finished speaking. 

He has now again boarded Air Force One for his trip to Florida. 

All in all, a pretty subdued sequence of events as Trump public appearances go. 


Meanwhile back in Washington, Biden is off to Mass. 

Joe and Jill Biden are on their way to a prayer service at the city’s Saint Matthew’s Cathedral.

Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle – including Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi – will also be attending.

It’s been a bit of a split-screen day so far. 

News networks are still playing out live footage of Air Force One taxiing down the runway at the military base in Maryland as Trump prepares to, essentially, ‘leave the building’. 

Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ is blaring out as the plane heads towards take off. 

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And he’s gone.

NBC News is reporting that, continuing a presidential succession tradition, Trump has left a note for President-elect Biden.

As you may have seen, George HW Bush’s letter to Bill Clinton has been doing the rounds online again in recent days. 

That note read

Dear Bill,

When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too.

I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.

There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.

You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.

Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.

Good luck — George

CNN’s Ana Cabrera reports that aides had prepared a speech for Trump this morning that included references to the incoming administration and included more gracious language about a peaceful transition.

But Trump discarded the speech.

Michelle Hennessy here taking over the liveblog for the next while.

There’s a bit of a lull at the moment as we wait for the main event. We’re expecting things to kick off from about 4.30pm Irish time.

In the last hour US Surgeon General Jerome Adams released a statement confirming he has been asked by the Biden team to step down:

Adams said he had sought during the Covid-19 pandemic to “communicate the rapidly evolving science on this deadly adversary, and arm people with the knowledge and tools they needed to stay safe”.

“I wasn’t always right- because no one was, and this virus continues to humble all of us- but I was always sincere in my efforts to speak to every day Americans, and address the terrible health inequities this virus exposed,” he said.

Adams said he hopes in 2021 and beyond, the US can “focus more on what unites us and rise above what divides us”.

Last month Biden announced he will nominate Dr Vivek Murthy as surgeon general.

Murthy held the role for two years under the Obama administration and was asked to resign when Trump took office in 2017.

President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have arrived at the US Capitol for the inauguration ceremony. 

In the last few minutes Obama shared this image of himself and Biden in the Oval Office during his time in the White House:

Other former presidents George W Bush and Bill Clinton will also be there, alongside former first ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton, who was Trump’s rival in the 2016 presidential election.

39th president Jimmy Carter won’t be there as he – a now 96-year-old man – is taking Covid-related precautions. This will be the first inauguration he’ll miss since his own in 1977.

It’s something the commentators on television have been talking about day so we won’t harp on about it too much, but it is such a different atmosphere for this inauguration in Washington. 

Streets that would normally be lined with crowds eager to get a look at their new president are empty.


And security has been significantly ramped up. 

Andrew Harnik Andrew Harnik

Donald Trump is only two hours out of the White House and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is already rubbing it in.

In the parliament a short time ago she said: “Once again after four long years Europe has a friend in the White House.”

“This new dawn in America is the one we’ve been waiting for for so long. Europe is ready for a new start with our oldest and most trusted partner.”

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President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamela Harris have arrived at the Capitol.

Kamela Harris will be first to swear her oath today. Harris will be making history as the first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president.

She’ll be be sworn in by the first Hispanic and third female justice in US Supreme Court history, Sonia Sotomayor, who was nominated by President Barack Obama to the high court.

Things seem to be on schedule, the various guests and dignitaries in attendance are starting to take their (socially-distanced) seats. Everyone looks quite cold.

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If you’re watching and wondering about the display in front of the Capitol, the ‘Field of Flags’ contains 200,000 flags to represent the American people, as they cannot gather there today to celebrate the inauguration due too the Covid-19 pandemic. 


Bill and Hillary Clinton have now arrived, followed by George W Bush and his wife Laura. 

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If you’re watching this live you’ll notice the pomp and circumstance hasn’t been done away with, as there’s a big announcement of each person who comes down those steps and music from a brass band as they walk in.

Speaking of former presidents, here’s a nice piece of general knowledge for the next Zoom table quiz you plan: 

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Vice President Mike Pence has also arrived. Remember, President Trump will not be at the inauguration. He and his family jetted off to Florida after he left the White House earlier. In the last few minutes they disembarked Air Force One in Florida.

Here we go. Vice President-Elect Kamela Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff have arrived and are taking their seats.

We’re expecting to see Biden soon.

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Biden’s Irish connection is going to be a big feature in media coverage here during his presidency. So let’s start as we mean to go on; even the bible he’s swearing the oath on has a nod to the Irish:

It’s snowing now in Washington as President-Elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill arrive on the stage. 

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Senator Amy Klobuchar is opening the ceremony. She says:

“This is the day our democracy picks itself up, brushes off the dust, and does what America always does: goes forward as a nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

“It falls to all of us, not just the two leaders we are inaugurating today, to take up the torch of our democracy, not as a weapon of political arson, but as an instrument for good.”

Meanwhile, more on Trump’s pardons:

Following an address by the longtime friend of Biden, Father Leo O’Donovan, we now have a performance of the National Anthem by Lady Gaga.

SIPA USA / PA Images SIPA USA / PA Images / PA Images

Kamela Harris has just taken her oath:


She used two bibles; one that previously belonged to a former neighbour and family friend,Regina Shelton, and another that belonged to Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court.

And now a performance by Jennifer Lopez of ‘This Land is Your Land’:

SIPA USA / PA Images SIPA USA / PA Images / PA Images

I do wonder whether she’s a bit annoyed she wasn’t asked to sing the National Anthem.


And now it’s Joe Biden’s turn to swear the oath. There’s that bible we mentioned earlier.


Joe Biden has now been officially sworn in as President of the United States of America. 

His first speech as President up next…


“This is American’s day, this is democracy’s day,” he begins.

He says the will of the people has been heard and that democracy is precious and fragile, but that “democracy has prevailed”.

Biden mentions the recent storming of the Capitol:

“Violence sought to shake the Capitol’s very foundation,” he says. “We come together as one nation, under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power.”

Biden says there is much to repair, restore and build now in this “winter of peril”.

“A once in a century virus that silently stalks the country has taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War Two, millions of jobs have been lost, hundreds of thousands of businesses closed,” he says.

“A cry for racial justice, some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice role will be deferred no longer.”

A desire for unity was always going to be a part of this speech as the new President addresses his divided nation.

Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this bringing America together, uniting our people uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause to fight the foes we face; anger, resentment and hatred and extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease joblessness and hopelessness, with unity.

“We can do great things, important things. We can write wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs, we can teach our children in safe schools, we can overcome the deadly virus. We can reward work, and rebuild the middle class, make healthcare secure for all, we can deliver racial justice and we can make America once again, the leading force for good in the world.”

Let’s start afresh, all of us,” he says.

Let’s begin to listen to one another again, hear one another, see one another, show respect to one another. Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path.


Biden makes a pledge, to be a “President for all Americans”.

“I promise you I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.”

He hasn’t even finished his speech and the @POTUS Twitter account has already been switched over to Joe Biden.

“Folks, this time of testing,” Biden continues.

“We face an attack on our democracy, and on truth, a raging virus growing in equity, the sting of systemic racism and climate in crisis.”

He says any one of these would be enough to challenge the US in profound ways.

“Now, we’re going to be tested – are we going to step up?”


Biden finishes his speech with a “sacred oath”.

“I give you my word I will always level with you, I will defend the Constitution, I’ll defend our democracy, I’ll defend America.”

With Biden’s address finished, it’s time for a performance of ‘Amazing Grace’ by Garth Brooks.


Do you think Garth will ever forgive us and come back when the pandemic is over for a few gigs in Croke Park?

No sign of any significant protests as the inauguration took place today.

Also, there was a belief among some QAnon supporters that something would happen today to prevent Biden from being inaugurated. They are also, reportedly, very disappointed:

If you missed the inaugural address my colleague Seán Murray has covered President Joe Biden’s call for unity in this piece.

The congratulations are rolling in now.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the inauguration of a new US president is “a moment of hope and renewal in US political life”.

“As he takes the oath-of-office, I know that President Biden will feel the weight of history – the presence of his Irish ancestors who left Mayo and Louth in famine times in search of life and hope.

He will remember their descendants’ hard struggle as they made their way in and their contribution to the United States. It is the story of Irish-America.

I hope he will also be conscious of the great pride we in Ireland take in his immense achievement. He is one of us, part of our global family.

“I look forward to welcoming President Biden back to this island and deepening cooperation on global peace, climate change, economic partnership and stability.”

It has been suggested that Biden may visit Ireland in the coming months, though nothing has been confirmed yet.

Sky News reports Pope Francis sent a message to President Biden to say he is praying that God will guide his efforts to bring reconciliation to America.

He said he hoped Biden would work towards a society marked by true justice, freedom and respect for the rights and dignity of every person, especially the poor, the vulnerable and those with no voice.

Biden has sent his first tweet as President, stating that he is getting straight to work, already on his way to the Oval Office:

Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki is also off to a running start. She’s asking Americans to get in touch with questions, promising to reply in a video later this week:

If you missed it earlier, here’s Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in US history:

Here’s an excerpt from her poem ‘The Hill We Climb’:

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.

Sean Murray here now with you for the rest of the evening. 

First up, we have some political reaction from around the world. 

At home, Taoiseach Micheál Martin offered his congratulations shortly after Biden delivered his first speech as president. 

Martin said the inauguration of a new US president is “a moment of hope and renewal in US political life”.

“As he takes the oath-of-office, I know that President Biden will feel the weight of history – the presence of his Irish ancestors who left Mayo and Louth in famine times in search of life and hope,” Martin said.

You can read more here

2.57638155 Fourth cousin of President Joe Biden, Veronica McKevitt (sitting) and her daughters Councillor Andrea McKevitt (right) and her sister Ciara, applaud Mr Biden at their home on the Cooley Peninsula Brian Lawless. / PA Images Brian Lawless. / PA Images / PA Images

Meanwhile, Joe Biden’s ancestral homes on the west and east coast of Ireland have celebrated his inauguration with champagne and cake while waving Irish and American flags.

Andrea McKevitt, who is a fifth cousin of Biden’s, marked the inauguration with a low-key celebration.

McKevitt watched on with her family over Zoom as “cousin Joe” was sworn in.

“We didn’t get to have the celebration we wanted but we were joined by uncles, aunties and cousins over Zoom to watch it all.

“We hope he gets the chance to visit the Cooley peninsula soon as we are all so excited to have him return.

“It will be a proud day to welcome him back and the sooner the better.

“There is a great sense of pride of having him as the president. It’s a magical atmosphere having one of our own in the most important office in the world.”

French President Emmanuel Macron has tweeted his congratulations of the new US President, and told him “welcome back” in reference to the landmark Paris climate accord.

“Best wishes on this most significant day for the American people!” Macron tweeted in English.

“We are together. We will be stronger to face the challenges of our time. Stronger to build our future. Stronger to protect our planet. Welcome back to the Paris Agreement!”

And just in case you missed it earlier, here’s Joe Biden’s inauguration speech. / YouTube

The look of shock on Boris Johnson’s face when he’s asked this question is quite something. 

More good wishes for Joe Biden, this time from Pope Francis.

“Under your leadership, may the American people continue to draw strength from the lofty political, ethical and religious values that have inspired the nation since its founding,” he said.

“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 in a statement.

He also prayed Biden would be guided by “unfailing respect for the rights and dignity of every person, especially the poor, the vulnerable and those who have no voice.”

Here’s the letter written by Irish President Michael D Higgins to Biden. 

“There is an Irish saying which you may know: ‘Is ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine’. It means that we live in each other’s shadow and in each other’s shelter. It reminds me that we are all interconnected, we are all interdependent, we all have an effect on each other on this fragile planet that we share. 

“The US has been a true friend to Ireland in so many ways. Your own friendship and support for so many years has been invaluable.”

Joe Biden is currently on his way to Arlington National Cemetry.

There, he’ll take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier with former presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W Bush.

As we know, Donald Trump is in Florida. 

The licence plate on Biden’s car says “46″.

He is, of course, the 46th President of the US. 

And Biden has laid the aforementioned wreath.

That’s a wrap for this liveblog for now. Stick with us for all the latest updates this evening and the coming days and weeks as Biden begins his presidency. 

We leave you with this statement from, of all people, Bono: “As an Irishman, I’ve always believed America isn’t just a country, it’s an idea, one the whole world has a stake in.

“Lady Liberty’s been bruised and battered these past four years but today her flame burns bright as we watch her torch transfer to two new leaders who will calm the waters, even while they chart a new course.

“Joe Biden understands that in perilous times like these it is Yeats’ concept of cold passion that’s required an idea both very Irish, and very American. Congratulations and Godspeed to President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who’s history making, history-shaping achievement deserves many more moments in the sun.

“And here’s to those conservatives who, when incited to turn your back on democracy, chose to put country above party, truth above tribalism … and accepted that the people have spoken.”

Óiche mhaith.

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