The United States on Wednesday will once again transfer power from one president to another, as it has done since 1797 when George Washington left office to be replaced by the second American president, John Adams.
This time, President-elect Joe Biden, a former vice president under Barack Obama who previously served as a U.S. senator for 36 years and 13 days, will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, meanwhile, will be the 49th vice president of the United States. Her swearing-in will represent the breaking of the second-highest glass ceiling in American society, as she will be the first woman to ever be the vice president.
Harris was previously the attorney general of California and the junior U.S. senator from that state. (Harris resigned from the Senate on Monday.)
Harris will also be the first Black vice president and the first South Asian vice president, though she will not be the first vice president of color. Republican Charles Curtis — who served under President Herbert Hoover — was the first. Curtis, born in Kansas, was a member of the Native American Kaw Nation.
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There will also be a historic level of military presence in the capital aiming to prevent violence after a mob on Jan. 6 stormed the Capitol — ostensibly trying to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s Dec. 14 win in the Electoral College over Trump.
Biden and Harris are set to take the reins of the government as a slew of top officials from both parties attend the celebration of American democracy.
When is it?
Fox News’ special coverage of the inauguration will begin at 11 a.m., anchored by Bret Baier and Martha McCallum. Biden will be sworn in at noon ET, officially becoming president of the United States.
Where is it?
The inauguration will happen at the West Front of the Capitol, outdoors as it traditionally has been held in recent years. Previously, presidential swearing-ins have happened on the East Portico of the Capitol. (President Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration, in 1985, was held inside the Capitol because of harsh winter termperatures that day.)
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Biden has reiterated in recent days that he feels safe attending the swearing-in outdoors, based on the intelligence information he has seen.
What’s the military presence like?
With many top government officials gathering in the same place, a presidential inauguration always includes a massive security effort.
But the threats have been more serious and widespread this time, after President Trump and many of his allies claimed the presidential election was stolen and that Trump had won.
Those claims, rejected in numerous court rulings, reached a fever pitch when Trump doubled down Jan. 6, with he and his backers using pitched rhetoric at a rally in Washington before lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence were set to certify Biden’s electoral win in a joint session of Congress.
The Trump supporters at that rally then marched through the streets to the Capitol where they stormed the building, forcing hundreds of lawmakers and the vice president into hiding. Some of the Trump supporters chanted, “Hang Mike Pence!”
The threats to the Capitol, according to officials, continued as Inauguration Day drew closer.
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FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a briefing with Pence last week that “we are seeing an extensive amount of concerning online chatter about a number of events around inauguration” and that authorities were “tracking calls for potential armed protests” and were “concerned about the potential for violence.”
Meanwhile, the maker of pipe bombs that were found near the Capitol on Jan. 6 remained at large, and the FBI warned law enforcement agencies Tuesday that identifying that person was a “top priority,” according to a law enforcement official briefed on inauguration security concerns. There’s concern that the suspect or suspects could be trying to make and place more explosives, the official said.
Though the U.S. Secret Service was running point on inauguration security, there was a massive presence of other law enforcement agencies and military in D.C.
In addition to 25,000 National Guard troops from all 50 states and three territories helping with security, personnel from the Maryland State Police, U.S. Capitol Police, the New York Police Department and many other agencies were all in the city to keep the incoming president and vice president, and the seat the American government, safe.
Who swears in the president and the vice president?
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will swear in Biden, while Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who swore in Biden for his second term as vice president, will swear in Harris.
How many times has this happened?
Though Biden will become America’s 46th president, his swearing-in will be the 59th time an American president has been sworn in.
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Several presidents have served two terms, including George Washington, George W. Bush, Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower and others. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to four terms before dying just months after his fourth inauguration.
Other times, a vice president has been sworn in after the death of a sitting president. This happened in the case of Harry Truman after Roosevelt’s death; Lyndon Johnson after John F. Kennedy’s death; Calvin Coolidge after Warren Harding’s death; and more.
These unusual swearing-ins have usually happened in the White House, though Johnson was sworn in at Dallas Love Field after Kennedy’s death.
Chester Arthur was sworn in as president at his home in New York City after the death of President James Garfield in 1881. The building on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan is now home to a specialty foods store.
Where will Trump be? How about Pence?
Traditionally, sitting presidents meet presidents-elect at the White House before riding with them to the U.S. Capitol.
That will not be the case Wednesday.
Trump will depart the White House on Wednesday morning without meeting Biden before heading to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland for a modest event. He will then fly to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and land before the Biden swearing-in.
WHO’S ATTENDING BIDEN’S INAUGURATION?
Pence, meanwhile, will participate in the Biden inauguration ceremony along with a large number of members of Congress and other elected officials.
Who else will be at the inauguration?
As is usual for an inauguration, a lot of important people will attend.
Prior to the event, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. all will attend a church service with Biden.
Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are expected to attend the inauguration in person. The only other living president, 96-year-old Jimmy Carter, who has spent the pandemic largely at home in Plains, Ga., will not attend but has extended “best wishes” to Biden, according to a spokeswoman at The Carter Center in Atlanta.
Many members of Congress from both sides of the aisle will be there as well — including Republicans who attempted to block the certification of Biden’s electoral win.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who spearheaded the Jan. 6 effort to toss out electoral votes for Biden, will attend the official swearing-in at the Capitol. Sens. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., Josh Hawley, R-Mo., John Kennedy, R-La., Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., and Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., who joined with Cruz in objecting to Biden’s victory before a Joint Session of Congress, also will attend Biden’s inauguration, their offices confirmed.
And Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., who voted to reject Biden’s electors in the state of Pennsylvania, will also show up Wednesday.
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Musicians Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Timberlake, Garth Brooks, Ant Clemons, Jon Bon Jovi, Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen, among others, will have roles in either the inauguration itself or a primetime event titled “Celebrating America” hosted by Tom Hanks.
Gaga will sing the national anthem.
What’s the impact of the coronavirus?
The inaugural committee urged Americans to not travel to Washington, D.C., to celebrate the inauguration because of the coronavirus pandemic. The effort to discourage in-person attendees was reinforced by the massive security protocols taken to prevent another attack on the Capitol.
To help Americans celebrate remotely, the inaugural committee announced a virtual “Parade Across America” starting at 3:15 p.m.
Fox News’ Peter Doocy, Danielle Wallace, Jessica Napoli, Marisa Schultz, John Roberts and Jake Gibson contributed to this report.