Democrat Joe Biden was sworn in as President of the United States on Wednesday, assuming leadership of a country rocked by deep political divisions, a battered economy and a raging coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans.
With his hand on an heirloom Bible that has been in his family since 1893, Biden took the presidential oath administered by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts just after noon ET (5:00 p.m. GMT), vowing to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. United States “.
Biden, 78, became the longest-serving U.S. president in history in a scaled-down ceremony in Washington that was largely stripped of its pomp and usual circumstances, due to both the coronavirus and security concerns following the Jan.6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump.
Trump, defying standards, flouted one final convention as he walked out of the White House when he refused to meet with Biden or attend his successor’s inauguration, breaking with a political tradition seen as affirming the peaceful transfer of power .
Senior Republicans including Vice President Mike Pence and party leaders in Congress attended Biden’s inauguration, alongside former US Presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton. Jimmy Carter, 96, was the only U.S. president alive not to attend the ceremony, citing coronavirus concerns.
Biden Vice President Kamala Harris, the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, became the first black person, the first woman and the first Asian American to hold the post of vice president after being sworn in by United States Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the Court’s first Latina. member.
Harris used two Bibles, including one belonging to Thurgood Marshall, the first black judge of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Thousands of National Guard soldiers were called into the city after the Jan.6 siege on Capitol Hill, which left five dead and briefly forced lawmakers into hiding. Instead of crowds of supporters, the National Mall was covered Wednesday with nearly 200,000 flags and 56 lighted pillars meant to represent the people of US states and territories.