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Inauguration day: A guide to what to expect, as Joe Biden assumes office


According to the constitution of the United States, a president’s four-year term “shall end at noon on the 20th day of January”. On Wednesday, the end of Donald Trump’s presidency will see Joe Biden assume the office in the enduring inauguration ceremony at the US Capitol.

This year, however, some things will be different. With the US still gripped by the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 400,000 people across the country, there will be none of the sprawling crowds that were seen at Barack Obama’s two inaugurations. And after the deadly riots at the Capitol earlier this month, much of the area will be locked down, with up to 25,000 members of the national guard prepared to deploy in Washington – dwarfing the number of US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

Despite those challenges, a good amount of pomp and ceremony – some of it virtual – is still planned. Some timings for the events have not been officially announced, but here’s an idea of what to expect.

Trump leaves the White House
Trump is due to leave the White House just before 8am, headed for Joint Base Andrews, the military base in Maryland used by Air Force One.

The White House has issued invitations for a ceremony at the base, with attendees told to arrive at 7.15am and the event due to start 45 minutes later. Few details have been released about the event, but Trump is reportedly keen on a lavish affair, featuring a 21-gun salute, a color guard, a military band and reams of supporters, CNN reported.

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In a sign that Trump’s aides may be struggling to gather a large crowd, however, guests have been told they can bring up to five other people, and invitees even included Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House communications director who has become a vocal Trump critic. A further blow to Trump’s designs on an ostentatious farewell came when the Pentagon reportedly said it would not hold an armed forces farewell tribute for the outgoing president.

After the ceremony Trump will fly to the Mar-a-Lago compound that is set to become his home. Trump has broken with tradition by refusing to attend Biden’s inauguration. The last outgoing president to do so was Andrew Johnson, in 1868. Mike Pence, Trump’s vice-president, will attend.

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