‘Let’s start afresh’: Joe Biden becomes 46th US president and urges unity

US News

Joe Biden is preparing to be sworn in as the next US president, replacing Donald Trump after a tumultuous four years.

The inauguration ceremony is usually attended by millions of people – but instead, Mr Biden will address a small, socially distanced crowd in light of the coronavirus pandemic and the recent, deadly riots on Capitol Hill.

On Twitter, the president-elect declared: “It’s a new day in America.”

All the build up to Biden’s inauguration – follow live updates

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Air Force One
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The outgoing president was whisked to Florida in Air Force One

Mr Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris have a packed schedule in the run-up to the moment they formally take office – expected to be just before 5pm.

Lady Gaga will be the first entertainer to perform at the ceremony when she sings the US national anthem – followed by Jennifer Lopez’s “American musical selection”.

Mr Trump is breaking tradition and will become the first outgoing president since 1869 to skip the inauguration ceremony. Instead, he is going to head to Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

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His number two Mike Pence will be there, along with former presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton – and their wives.

Mr Trump gave a parting message before boarding Air Force One, telling a small group of supporters and family members gathered on the tarmac of Joint Base Andrews that “we will be back in some form”.

“I wish the new administration great luck and great success,” he added, before boarding the plane, which took off to the booming soundtrack of Frank Sinatra’s My Way.

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Trump vows return in final speech

In the brief few hours where the White House has no occupier, it is getting a deep clean that will cost $500,000 (£366,300).

Mr Biden, who will be the 46th US president but only the second Catholic to hold the office, spent Wednesday morning attending church with his wife Jill.

Several senior Congress members were also there, including Republican Mitch McConnell, who is set to lose his position as Senate majority leader when the political balance of the upper chamber swings in the Democrats’ favour.

Ahead of taking office, Mr Biden’s team have already announced he will sign a series of executive orders reversing several of Mr Trump’s policies, including on COVID-19, climate change and racial inequality.

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