Joe Biden will try to divert attention from President Donald Trump’s White House exit as the president-elect arrives in Washington D.C. Tuesday for a memorial honoring the American lives lost to coronavirus the night before his inauguration.
The former vice president will participate in a send-off event in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware before he and his wife Jill Biden depart for the nation’s capital.
Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris will host a ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool on Tuesday evening to honor the nearly 400,000 American lives lost to the pandemic.
Tuesday’s events are an attempt to deflect from a potentially messy exit from the White House, as Trump will not participate in the usual pomp and circumstance of exchange of power – such as holding a private conversation with the incoming president, leaving a letter of advice or attending his replacement’s inauguration.
He also could face a split-screen moment Wednesday as the House prepares to deliver the article of impeachment against Trump to the Senate – and several Democratic senators are eager to move forward with the proceedings.
Biden’s team is already trying to set a more serious and sympathetic tone in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The attempt to turn the focus from Trump to COVID will begin on Tuesday night.
Biden and Harris will lead a ‘moment of unity and remembrance’ for the dead at 5:30 p.m. at the Lincoln Memorial. The reflecting pool in front of the memorial will be lit up for the first time, to honor the deceased.
President-elect Joe Biden will arrive in Washington D.C. on Tuesday after speaking at a send-off in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware
Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in Washington will host a memorial to the American lives lost to COVID-19
The two will make remarks from the Lincoln Memorial honoring the nearly 400,000 dead as the reflecting pool in front of the memorial will be illuminated
Inauguration will take place as thousands of National Guard troops patrol D.C. after the storming of the Capitol building earlier this month led to a slew of threats against lawmakers and the incoming administration
Unprecedented: Biden’s inauguration takes place with D.C. in lockdown and 25,000 National Guard troops deployed in the wake of the MAGA riot
The president-elect is asking Americans to light a candle in their window in honor of those who lost their lives to the deadly pandemic.
It is unclear if members of the Trump administration will attend the memorial.
On Wednesday, Biden will be sworn into office – and with the lack of any traditional greetings by the outgoing president, Biden will use his time before the inauguration ceremony to go to church.
Then on Thursday, he will attend a prayer service at Washington National Cathedral, which is expected to be dedicated to those who have died of COVID.
As of Tuesday morning, 399,003 Americans have lost their lives to the virus and more than 24 million have been infected since early last year.
With the traditions of inauguration upended by a combination of Trump’s refusal to meet Biden at the White House, massive security in the wake of the MAGA riots, and Biden’s insistence that the event be COVID safe, his team have carved out a new version which they hope will help take the focus off the outgoing president.
That will be a difficult task: Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate could begin as early as 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, minutes after Biden is sworn in on the steps of the Capitol and exactly two weeks after the MAGA mob stormed it.
Nearly 200,000 mini American flags were placed on the National Mall this week to take the place of a live audience for the inauguration.
With the mix of coronavirus and threats facing the incoming president and his administration, the ceremony was closed to the public and will instead consist of a small, invite-only socially-distanced audience.
Preparations: Biden will be sworn-in Wednesday afternoon on the steps of the Capitol in an unusual private ceremony in light of the pandemic and emerging threats. The inauguration will be void of any of the traditional symbols of the transfer of power from one president to the next
Nearly 200,000 miniature American flags, dubbed the ‘filed of flags’, were placed on the National Mall in lieu of a live audience for the inauguration
President Donald Trump will not participate in any of the usual traditions of transfer of power, like meeting with Biden the morning of inauguration on Wednesday or attending his swearing in
Instead, Biden, who is regularly seen attending Sunday mass at his home parish of St Joseph on the Brandywine in Wilmington, Delaware, will go to mass in Washington on Wednesday morning before his inauguration
Wednesday morning, Trump is set to leave the White House for Mar-a-Lago on board Air Force One. His demands for a military sendoff at Joint Base Andrews were nixed by the Pentagon.
Until now it had been traditional for the outgoing president and first lady to welcome the president-elect and his wife to the White House on the morning of inauguration, with the two leaders then going down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol in the presidential limousine.
That was what happened in 2017, with the Trumps first going to a prayer service at St John’s Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square opposite the White House – later to become notorious as the site of his Bible photo-op in June 2020 – before being welcomed to the White House by the Obamas.
But the Bidens will not be welcomed at the White House and instead, the president-elect will go to Mass.
It is unclear which church he will attend on Tuesday. Only one Catholic church, St Patrick’s close to Metro Center in downtown D.C. will be inside the massive security zone being thrown around the White House, National Mall and Capitol.
After being sworn in, Biden will once again turn to remembering the dead, this time fallen troops, by driving to Arlington National Cemetery with former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Jimmy Carter, 96 and his wife Rosalynn, who have spent the pandemic largely at their home in Plains, GA, will not attend.
The ceremony at Arlington may provide a jarring split screen moment if the Senate trial of Trump begins at 1pm.
Tradition: This was the scene in 2017 when the Obamas welcomed the Trumps to the White House before the inauguration of the 45th president. Instead the Bidens will first go to the White House after he is sworn in
Traditional solemnity: Presidents usually go to Arlington National Cemetery on the day of their inaugurations with the vice president – as Obama did with Biden in 2013 – but this time Biden will be joined by the former presidents coming to the inauguration, Bush, Clinton and Obama
Show business: Lady Gaga will sing the National Anthem at the inauguration and Tom Hanks will host a primetime TV special taking the place of balls and parties
It will also serve to underline the support for the peaceful transfer of power from the former presidents who include Bush the sole living Republican former president.
And with the round of balls and concerts abandoned, Wednesday night will instead see a TV show hosted by Tom Hanks at 8.30pm on NBC, ABC, CBS and PBS as well as CNN and MSNBC.
The day after inauguration has traditionally featured a prayer service at National Cathedral but this time is likely to focus on praying for a nation traumatized by COVID and the Capitol riot.
Biden’s non-traditional inauguration will be the start of a first day in office in which he will take an axe to many of Trump’s signature policies.
Among the promises Biden has made include mask mandates, striking down the travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries, and having the United States rejoin the Paris Climate Accord.
While it’s an ambitious plan, Biden plans on signing a handful of executive orders on his first day in office, per a memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain.
One of the executive orders Biden will sign is a reversal of the travel ban, which first affected people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen when it was implemented in January 2017.
The order has been altered slightly since then, but has largely withstood legal challenges.
Another executive order Biden is planning on signing on his first day is an order that will have the United States rejoin the Paris Climate Accord.
According to his chief of staff, Biden has plans to sign up to about a dozen executive orders
The agreement signed in 2016 is a global pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emission and enact other environmentally-conscious policies.
Trump had the United States withdraw from the agreement in November 2019, becoming the most significant nation to no longer be party to the pact, drawing the ire of the rest of the globe.
‘During the campaign, President-elect Biden pledged to take immediate action to start addressing these crises and build back better,’ Klain wrote in a memo obtained by CNN.
‘As president, he will keep those promises and sign dozens of executive orders, presidential memoranda, and directives to Cabinet agencies in fulfillment of the promises he made.’
Other executive orders Biden wants to sign right away include a halt of evictions during the pandemic, a pause on student loan payments during the pandemic, and a mandate requiring the wearing of face masks on federal properties and in federally-controlled jurisdictions, which includes interstate planes, trains and buses.
Biden also has listed a thorough immigration policy and a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill among his top priorities.
Biden previously said he would roll back the Migrant Protection Protocols on his first day, which turn away many Central American refugees at the Mexican border.
Whether or not he does so could become critical in the coming days, with reports of Honduran migrants working their way through Guatemala and slowly towards the US border emerging.
In addition to his many executive orders and policy priorities, Biden also has his eye on his first overseas trip as president.
The Sunday Telegraph reports that Biden is planning on making the United Kingdom the site of his first trip outside of North America, which would be considered a boost to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
‘Joe’s view will be that they’ll have the destiny of the world on their shoulders so he’ll want to overcome any political differences,’ a friend of Biden’s said to the Telegraph, in regards to Biden’s previous opposition to Brexit.
A United Nations climate change conference is scheduled to take place in Glasgow, Scotland in the fall of 2021, meaning Biden could end up visiting the United Kingdom more than once this year.
Trump and Johnson tapped into similar sentiments within their countries, but the relationship between the two nations during their tenures has not been rock solid.
Because of Brexit, the two nations are working on a new trade deal, which isn’t expected to be in place before 2022.
Trump’s first foreign visit as the president took him to several countries in May 2017 starting in Saudi Arabia, where he signed a $110 billion arms deal.
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