Joe Biden took the oath of office at noon Wednesday to become the 46th president of the United States, taking the helm of a deeply divided nation and inheriting a confluence of crises arguably greater than any faced by his predecessors.
The very ceremony in which presidential power is transferred, a hallowed American democratic tradition, served as a jarring reminder of the challenges Biden faces: The inauguration unfolded at a U.S. Capitol battered by an insurrectionist siege just two weeks ago, encircled by security forces evocative of those in a war zone, and devoid of crowds because of the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
Stay home, Americans were exhorted, to prevent further spread of a surging virus. Biden looked out over a capital city dotted with empty storefronts that attest to the pandemic’s deep economic toll and where summer protests laid bare the nation’s renewed reckoning on racial injustice.
He will not be applauded “or likely even acknowledged” by his predecessor.
Flouting tradition, Donald Trump planned to depart Washington on Wednesday morning ahead of the inauguration rather than accompany his successor to the Capitol. Trump currently awaits his second impeachment trial.
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