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Inauguration Day 2021: When is Joe Biden sworn in as US president, and who is performing?

Joe Biden is expected to be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on Jan 20. 

Despite the violence seen in the Capitol building on Jan 6, the US Congress confirmed Mr Biden will become the next President, after they certified 270 Electoral College votes on Jan 7.

After Congress approved Vermont's votes, Mr Biden reached the number of Electoral College votes needed to become the President. He has, therefore, defeated Donald Trump by 306-232.

Following the fatal events on Capitol Hill, Donald Trump committed to a peaceful transition of power. 

In a short video posted on Twitter, Mr Trump said being president had been "the honour of my lifetime" and insisted that in spreading baseless claims of election fraud he had merely been "fighting to defend American democracy". 

However, that statement was not enough to save him from becoming the first President to be impeached twice. On Jan 13, the House of Representatives voted 232-197 in favour of a single article of impeachment following the bloodshed at the US Capitol. Mr Trump now faces a Senate trial.

However, Mr Trump confirmed on Jan 8 via Twitter that he will not be attending the inauguration ceremony. His Twitter account has since been permanently suspended. 

The traditional outdoor ceremony for the new president is set to go ahead - although the coronavirus pandemic will scale back the usual celebrations.

Festivities are being scaled back, with public health measures including mandatory masks, temperature checks and social distancing in place. Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009 - when Joe Biden became Vice President - was attended by approximately two million people. 

By contrast, the Biden-Harris team has announced that celebrations will be "extremely limited" in size, and viewing stands along the parade route have been dismantled.

The Presidential Inauguration Committee has planned a nationwide Covid memorial for the day before the inauguration.

The committee said that cities and towns around the country will be invited to light up their buildings and ring church bells at 5.30pm (10.30pm GMT) on Jan 19 in a "national moment of unity and remembrance".

Are there any more pro-Trump protests planned before the inauguration?

On January 12, the FBI warned of the possibility of co-ordinated armed protests, which may be planned by Trump’s supporters in the run-up to the inauguration.

Posts on a number of pro-Trump websites have planned several demonstrations across multiple dates, and some of which involve armed protests in different cities around the US on Jan 17, and a march in the capital on Mr Biden’s inauguration day. 

These warnings come after the National Guard received permission to send as many as 15,000 troops to the capital by Jan 16, and tourists are banned from visiting the Washington Monument until four days after the President-elect is sworn in. 

When is Joe Biden's first day in office?

In keeping with tradition, Joe Biden's first day in office will be Jan 20, the day of his inauguration. Jan 20 marks the first day of the new term and the official handover of presidential powers to the President-elect.

When will Trump leave the White House and when will the Bidens move in?

Mr Biden and Dr Jill Biden will move into the White House on Jan 20, following the inauguration ceremony. 

In the aftermath of Mr Biden's win, there were concerns that Donald Trump would refuse to concede the election or leave office before Inauguration Day. In this situation, Mr Trump would have no legal or constitutional right to the office, and he would be forced to leave the White House premises.

The issue reached its peak on Jan 6 when Mr Trump encouraged a mob of rioters who stormed Capitol Hill in protest of the Biden-Harris victory. Mr Trump later condemned the violence, committing to an "orderly transition on January 20th". 

Mr Trump acknowledged his defeat for the first time on Jan 7, confirming that he would leave the White House before Inauguration Day.

Why is there a gap between the election and presidential inauguration?

The election was held on Nov 3, 2020, but Mr Biden does not officially become president until over two months later.

Until 1933, the new president was inaugurated on Mar 4, four months after election day. This was then shortened to around two months with the ratification of the 20th Amendment.

The time between US election and inauguration allows for the incumbent to tie up any loose ends, and for the incoming president to prepare for his tenure by working on policy and appointing his cabinet.

What about the contested election?

Chaos hit America when a gang of violent Trump supporters raided the US Capitol building on Jan 6 in an attempt to block the certification of the presidential election results. This came after the Senate resumed its vote count after an hours-long delay. 

Even as the US Capitol building was under siege, Mr Trump maintained his claims of election fraud; however, the President addressed the rioters on Twitter, asking them to "remain peaceful" and "respect the law and our great men and women in Blue".  

The Vice President, Mike Pence, condemned the violence of the rioters, stating that "violence never wins". 

The US Congress declared that Joe Biden would officially become the next President of the United States of America on Jan 7, after they certified the 270 Electoral College votes he needed to win - despite the riot in the US Capitol.

Will Donald Trump be there?

Mr Trump has done nothing to make the path to Inauguration Day simple for Mr Biden, and has confirmed via Twitter that he will not be attending Mr Biden's inauguration. Trump's Twitter account was later permanently suspended. 

He tweeted on Jan 8: "To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the inauguration on January 20th."

As a result, Mr Trump will be breaking a decades-long tradition. He will be the first president in more than 150 years - and just the fourth in US history - to miss the event. Usually, the person departing the White House would welcome their predecessor to the Oval Office and attend the swearing-in ceremony. 

Both Mr Biden and Barack Obama attended Mr Trump’s inauguration on Jan 20, 2017. The president’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton was also present, as were former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter. 

Mr Trump was reportedly considering travelling to his Turnberry golf resort in Scotland to avoid Mr Biden being sworn into office. But Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said Mr Trump would not be allowed to visit Scotland to play golf during Mr Biden's inauguration. 

The First Minister stressed it is illegal to travel in or out of the country without a valid reason and said: "Coming to play golf is not what I would consider to be an essential purpose."

However, Prestwick Airport has been told to expect the arrival of a US military Boeing 757 aircraft previously used by Mr Trump on Jan 19, according to the Sunday Post.

What will Joe Biden say?

Every president since George Washington has delivered the Inaugural Address. Mr Trump spoke for 16 minutes during his vow to break the “established order” and “make America great again”.

For Mr Biden, the focus is likely to be on the cornerstones of his policies: the pandemic, the economy, climate change and health care.

It also seems likely he will touch upon the issue of uniting Americans again - whether they voted for him or not. This issue has already been a key theme of his commentary so far.

"With the campaign over, it's time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” Mr Biden said in a statement. “It's time for America to unite.”

And what about Kamala Harris?

Vice president-elect Kamala Harris will take the inaugural oath, but before Mr Biden. Ms Harris will be the nation’s first female vice president. 

She will swear to “support and defend the Constitution” and “faithfully discharge the duties of the office”. 

When and where is Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony?

In keeping with tradition, the inauguration will be held on Jan 20, in front of the US Capitol in Washington DC. The inauguration is expected to begin at 11am (4pm GMT). 

Mr Biden will be required to take an inaugural oath before assuming his duties and will deliver a public address. 

What time is Joe Biden's virtual inaugural parade?

Joe Biden's inaugural parade is projected to take place around 2-3pm (7-8pm GMT).

With strict measures in place to comply with Covid safety procedures, the event will take place largely online. In-person attendance of the event will be limited.

How can I watch live in the UK?

The inauguration ceremony will begin at around 4pm GMT and can be watched live in the UK from a variety of news platforms. Live coverage can be viewed on Sky and BBC broadcast news channels. Additionally, the ceremony will be available to stream online via CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS News, and Fox News.

Who is performing at Biden's inauguration?

Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez will take the stage at the inauguration ceremony, alongside others in what his transition team said would showcase a diverse America.

The event will also feature remarks from a black firefighter from Georgia, a former Youth Poet Laureate, a Catholic priest, and a pastor from Biden's hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem and Ms Lopez will give a musical performance.

"They represent one clear picture of the grand diversity of our great nation," Biden's team said in a statement.

During Mr Trump’s inauguration, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and teenage soprano Jackie Evancho joined him on stage.

In 2013, Mr Obama had American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson, among others. 

Could the ceremony be held behind closed doors?

Given the violence seen on Jan 6 and the coronavirus pandemic, there are some on social media who are calling for this year's inauguration ceremony to be held behind closed doors.

The mayor of DC has extended a public emergency declaration until Jan 21, the day after inauguration. This order empowers officials to reduce the hours of operation for businesses, order people off the street if a curfew is issued, and expend funds as needed to protect public safety, suggesting that city officials have the power to prevent people from gathering for the event.

She said: “President Trump continues to fan rage and violence by contending that the Presidential election was invalid. Some persons can be expected to continue their violent protests through the inauguration.”

Following the attacks, the DC National Guard will also be on hand, having been mobilised for 30 days from Jan 6.

The ceremony will also break traditions because of the coronavirus pandemic. The US has seen the worst outbreak in the world, recording more deaths and cases than any other country.

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