December 15, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden is preparing for an abnormal inauguration ceremony in a very abnormal year.

Some of the aspects of Biden's swearing in ceremony will be traditional: He'll be sworn in on the west side of the Capitol building and give a speech from there after his swearing in, his inaugural committee said Tuesday. But amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden's inaugural committee is urging the usually massive crowds who line the mall for an inauguration to stay home.

As usual, elected officials and other people from across the country will join Biden on the platform outside the Capitol. "But attendance will be limited," The Washington Post reports, and it's unclear if Biden will hold a traditional lunch with congressmembers following the swearing in or have tea with President Trump before it. Biden's inaugural committee did confirm it'll hold some kind of "reimagined" parade after the inaugural ceremony. It's expected to be "more virtual than physical," reminiscent of the roll call at the virtual Democratic National Convention, the Post writes.

Meanwhile Trump will be able to leave the White House knowing his inauguration crowd was at least bigger than Biden's. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:20 p.m.

The Democratic Party gained a slim majority in the Senate on Wednesday, when Vice President Kamala Harris — who just a few hours earlier took her own oath of office — swore Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), and her successor Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) into the upper chamber.

The Senate now has a 50-50 party split, though Harris would serve as the tie-breaker in simple majority votes, which means the Democrats hold the edge.

With the addition of three new Democrats, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has taken on the role of majority leader, while Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is once again the minority leader, a post he held between 2007 and 2015. Tim O'Donnell

4:59 p.m.

Liberal Fox News contributor Richard Fowler choked up during an appearance on the network as he marveled at the numerous glass ceilings broken by Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday.

"One part [of the inauguration] that caused me to get real emotional was, we've been a country for 243 years, and in all those 243 years, we have had women citizens but we have never had a woman hold national office," Fowler said, his voice breaking as he went on. "So to see Kamala Harris put her hand on the Bible today — also being her and I are of Jamaican descent, and I just think about my grandmother and my mom and so many other women who saw this, and so many young girls who can finally believe that they can be president, too, because of what we did as a country back in November."

Fowler was not the only contributor on Fox News on Wednesday to be audibly moved by the significance of Harris' oath. Political analyst Juan Williams also emotionally explained, "It's visceral, and I'll tell you why. I have granddaughters, I'm the son of a Black mother — you think about American history, you think about the status of Black women in this country for most of our history. And the idea that a Black woman would assume such power in this moment as a national leader — truly inspiring." Jeva Lange

4:48 p.m.

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn into office Wednesday, marking the end of former President Donald Trump's term. After the inauguration ceremony, Biden and Harris embarked on a short parade around the Capitol Hill area that ended at the White House. That's where Biden and his family got to step inside for the first time since Biden was vice president four years ago.

Shortly after Biden's arrival, Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff made it to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The vice president has a set of offices in the building next to the White House, but lives in a house on the grounds of the Naval Observatory about two miles northwest.

The White House got a thorough cleaning after the Trump administration departed Wednesday morning. Biden administration members will be required to wear masks once they start working, unlike Trump's staff. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:40 p.m.

President Biden's team is reportedly worried the COVID-19 pandemic they're inheriting will be even more difficult to handle than they anticipated, and some advisers say a new, more contagious variant of the virus — as opposed to vaccine distribution logistics — is the main reason why, Bloomberg reports.

Biden has promised to work to curb the virus' spread with a push to inoculate 100 million Americans in 100 days. He plans to encourage widespread mask usage, increase testing, and safely reopen schools. But the fear is that the new variant, which was initially discovered in the United Kingdom, but has made its way to the U.S. and elsewhere, will upend the entire plan and subsequently damage his prospects of achieving other legislative priorities like immigration reform and infrastructure development, Bloomberg notes.

While the mutation is seemingly at the center of the apprehension, Biden's aides also reportedly blame their predecessors for putting them in a bad spot. Some aides, per Bloomberg, privately allege the Trump administration "dragged its heels in showing them details of the federal response and its data." Ultimately, they reportedly opted against making those concerns public because they wanted to avoid publicly criticizing the Trump administration during the transition, potentially motivating them to cut them out of the loop completely.

A former senior Trump official told Bloomberg that description of the situation was just the Biden team's way of lowering expectations, adding that they were given unprecedented access to pandemic-related information. Read more at Bloomberg. Tim O'Donnell

4:24 p.m.

Former President George W. Bush described House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) as "the savior" for helping President Biden make his way to the Oval Office, according to Clyburn himself.

The South Carolina Democrat revealed Wednesday he spoke with Bush ahead of the inauguration ceremony and that the former president called him the "savior" because of his key endorsement of Biden's campaign, The Associated Press reports.

"George Bush said to me today, he said, 'You know, you're the savior," Clyburn explained. "Because if you had not nominated Joe Biden, we would not be having this transfer of power today.'"

Clyburn backed Biden prior to the 2020 South Carolina Democratic primary, which Biden went on to win in what was widely seen as the major turning point in his presidential campaign; former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) subsequently dropped out of the race and endorsed him.

Bush, according to Clyburn, also described Biden as "the only one who could have defeated the incumbent president." Brendan Morrow

3:59 p.m.

A new White House means a new www.whitehouse.gov. But most people who browse the spiffy website won't know that there's a secret message hidden right under their eyes.

Snuck into the HTML code is a "neat little Easter egg," Protocol reports — a message that says "If you're reading this, we need your help building back better," followed by a link to the U.S. Digital Service, the executive branch's elite technology unit.

Another hidden message on the page points anyone creeping on the HTML toward the White House's analytics website, which allows viewers to see how many people are on government websites at any given time, as well as what pages are the most viewed (if all this tech talk is Greek to you, you can snoop the page the easier way, by clicking here; turns out a lot of people try to track their USPS packages!):

President Biden's tough tech agenda in office will indeed need all the help it can get — read more about what he wants to accomplish in office on the cyber front here. Jeva Lange

3:54 p.m.

The numbers are in.

Former President Donald Trump racked up an astonishing 30,573 false claims throughout the four years of his presidency, according to The Washington Post's fact checker. They include repeated inflations like Trump's insistence that more of his border wall was built than actually had been, flat-out lies about just how many votes he received in the 2020 election, and everything in between.

Trump's false claims increased most dramatically in the months leading up to the 2020 election. They plateaued again afterward as Trump stayed out of the public eye, even as he falsely insisted he won the election and that fraud had cost him votes.

Trump most often repeated his claim of building "the greatest economy in the history of the world," saying it 493 times, the Post counts. False claims about his political opponents wanting fully open borders and the actual size of his tax cuts also topped the most repeated list, which you can explore at The Washington Post. Kathryn Krawczyk

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