US set to swear in Joe Biden as 46th president: Live updates

Trump himself will not attend Biden’s swearing-in and subsequent gathering of all living presidents.

The United States is due to swear in Democrat Joe Biden as its 46th president, who is inheriting a country beset by deep political divides and battered by a coronavirus pandemic.

The inauguration event, scheduled to start after 10:30am local time (15:30 GMT) on Wednesday, will be organised amid unprecedented security in the wake of the storming of the Capitol Building on January 6 by supporters of the outgoing President Donald Trump.

The crowd size will be extremely limited as the capital Washington, DC, has been under lockdown due to security fears prompted by the deadly riot at the Capitol – the seat of the US government.

Trump was impeached for his role in the Capitol mayhem, becoming the first president in US history to be impeached twice. Critics say outgoing president’s repeated false claims that the November election was stolen triggered the Capitol violence.

Breaking with tradition, Trump himself will not attend Biden’s swearing-in and subsequent gathering of all living presidents.

Here are some of the latest updates:

Trump pardons ex-aide Bannon, dozens of others: White House

US President Donald Trump has granted a pardon to his disgraced former aide Steve Bannon as part of a wave of pardons and commutations during his final hours in office.

The statement issued by the White House on Wednesday included a list of the names of 73 pardoned individuals and 70 others whose sentences were commuted.

Read more here.

Biden marks nation’s COVID grief before inauguration pomp

Hours from inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden paused on what might have been his triumphal entrance to Washington on Tuesday evening to mark instead the national tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic with a moment of collective grief for Americans lost.

“To heal we must remember,” the incoming president told the nation at a sunset ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial.

Four hundred lights representing the pandemic’s victims were illuminated behind him around the monument’s Reflecting Pool.

“Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights into the darkness … and remember all who we lost,” Biden said.

Trump, in farewell address, says movement ‘only just beginning’

US President Donald Trump has released a farewell video, touting what he described as the success of his “America First” platform and telling his supporters that “the movement we started is only just beginning”.

Trump, who will leave office on Wednesday but will not attend the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, acknowledged in the nearly 20-minute video that a new administration would be sworn in this week.

Read more here.

Indian village cheers for Kamala Harris before US inauguration

A tiny, lush Indian village surrounded by rice paddy fields is beaming with joy, hours before its descendant, Kamala Harris, takes her oath of office and becomes the vice president of the United States.

Harris is set to make history as the first woman, first woman of colour and first person of South Asian descent to hold the vice presidency.

Read more here.

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