Democrat Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, ending the tumultuous four-year term in the White House of Republican Donald Trump.
Biden, 78, took the oath of office from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts at a solemn ceremony at the US Capitol which was snubbed by the outgoing president and took place in the shadow of a raging coronavirus pandemic.
Before Biden, Kamala Harris was sworn in as US vice president, becoming the first woman, the first Black person and the first Asian American to hold the office.
Democrat Biden has become the oldest US president in history at a scaled-back ceremony in Washington that has been largely stripped of its usual pomp and circumstance, due both to the coronavirus and security concerns following the January 6 assault on the US Capitol by Trump supporters.
Trump, a Republican, left the White House with his wife Melania just after 8am (1300 GMT) and went by helicopter to a sendoff event at Joint Air Force Base Andrews, where he promised supporters “we’ll be back in some form” and extolled his administration’s successes before flying off to Florida.
Top Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence, were not there to see him go. Biden arrived at the Capitol just before 10:30am for his inauguration after a visit to church, where he was joined in a show of unity by the two most senior Republicans in Congress: Senator Mitch McConnell and House of Representatives Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
With only a small number of attendees present, Biden will take the oath of office before US Chief Justice John Roberts just after noon, placing his hand on an heirloom Bible that has been in the Biden family for more than a century.
Trump flouted one last convention on his way out. His refusal to attend his successor’s swearing-in breaks with more than a century and a half of political tradition, seen as a way of affirming the peaceful transfer of power.
The president did, however, leave a customary note for Biden in the Oval Office, according to a White House official, though it was not yet known what it said.
Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, will become the first Black person, first woman and first Asian American to serve as vice president after she is sworn in by US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s first Latina member