All eyes on Joe Biden & Kamala Harris’ swearing-in, Trump to give ceremony a miss

Chennai: Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, while Kamala Harris will take oath as the first woman Vice President today, in the midst of growing concerns over the safety of the historic inauguration following the recent violent attack on the Capitol Hill by pro-Trump supporters.

Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the oath of office to Biden at the West Front of the Capitol, under the unprecedented security umbrella of more than 25,000 National Guards, who have transformed the capital into a garrison city, mainly because of the threat of violent protest by Trump’s supporters.

Biden, 78, will take the oath on his 127-year-old family Bible, which will be held by his wife, Jill Biden.

Biden, who will be the oldest president in American history, will deliver his first presidential address to the country after taking oath shortly after noon. The historic speech, with the theme of unity and healing, is being prepared by his Indian-American speech writer Vinay Reddy.

Harris, 56, will make history as the first female, first Black and first South Asian American vice president when she will be sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina member of the Supreme Court. Sotomayor administered the oath to Biden as vice president in 2013.

She will be sworn in on two Bibles – one that belonged to a close family friend named Regina Shelton and another that belonged to Thurgood Marshall – the country’s first African American Supreme Court justice.

This year, however, the transition stands out for its acrimony. The process usually starts straight after the election, but it started weeks late after President Donald Trump refused to accept the result of the 3 November election won by Biden, a Democrat.

Trump has said he will not attend the inauguration. Trump, a Republican, will vacate the White House hours before the inauguration and is expected to travel to his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

After the swearing-in ceremony, Biden and Harris will attend a traditional Pass in Review with members of the military on the East Front of the Capitol, signifying the peaceful transfer of power to a new commander-in-chief.

Biden, Harris and their spouses will visit Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, where they will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

After the wreath ceremony, they will head to the White House, where they will get a presidential escort. That will kick off the virtual ‘Parade Across America’, featuring performances from all 56 states and territories.

Traditionally, when the new president arrives at the Oval Office and occupies the chair in front of the resolute desk, a letter from his predecessor awaits him.

Given the circumstances that Trump is leaving, speculation is rife that there might not be any letter at all. Trump not only refused to concede the elections for more than two months, but also did not invite his successor to the White House as is the custom here.

 

NT Bureau