tv The Inauguration of Joe Biden COVID-19 Memorial CNN January 19, 2021 1:00pm-4:00pm PST
other. the president-elect returning here for the first major event before he takes his solemn oath. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. right now, we're overlooking the u.s. capitol. we're outside where the historic biden/harris inauguration takes place less than 24 hours as the incoming president and vice president prepare to take power they are heading to the national mall tonight, now an expansive red, white and blue, filled with nearly 200,000 flags. they represent people all across the united states who are unable to attend this inauguration. soon, america's next leaders will go to lincoln memorial for an unprecedented ceremony. there, joining together and with the nation to honor americans who have died of covid-19. come back to joint base andrews right now. this private plane that you can see just landed, bringing the
next president of the united states to the nation's capitol. jake tapper is with us. we're watching it all unfold, jake. this is history. >> it is, indeed. and i'm reminded of the big task, the tall order that president-elect, soon to be president biden has in front of him, as he comes to this city and begins this job because just as we were going on air, we learned that more than 400,000 americans have died of covid. yet another reminder, that fwrim milestone of the job that president biden will have. dana, there's a lot for us to talk about as we reflect on this moment. one president leaving, another coming in. but the big -- the tall order of this pandemic is really foremost on my mind right now. >> the pandemic, the unbelievable death toll that you just talked about. the fact that the incoming president is trying to make it
very clear to everybody that it is likely to get worse before it gets better. and that's just the health care, never mind the economic issue that he has in front of us -- in front of him. >> and here we see the plane that left from delaware, arriving at joint base andrews. on the plane, of course, the incoming president, the 46th president of the united states will be sworn in tomorrow at noon. he flew privately. he did not fly, as is standard, on a military plane, on a plane provided by the outgoing administration, which people on the campaign say, abby, is yet another example of the outgoing administration not rolling out the welcome mat. >> very much so. and in so many ways, this moment feels like joe biden is landing in washington, which is, by the way, a little bit of a fortress right now because of all the
security around the nation's capitol. but he's landing almost with a parallel administration preparing to stand up, a parallel administration while the current administration is still in power and almost barely recognizing the incoming administration, which is so unlike what we are used to in this country. usually, there are some lengths that are gone to, to make sure that there is the appearance of a hand-off. now you see joe biden arriving in a nondescript airplane, not a government airplane, arriving to a capitol that has been fortified in part because of the threats that he potentially faces after what we saw happen at the nation's capitol about two weeks ago. and you can see there an actual government plane right on the tarmac at joint base andrews, making that contrast more stark. >> it looks like one of the planes that the president normally uses. it's not air force one until the
president is actually on it. jeff zeleny is on the national mall for us. as we watch this moment in history, president-elect biden touching down at joint base andrews, his plane passing by. his private plane passing by the plane -- one of the planes that is used as air force one, we are really seeing the beginnings of this transition starting right now. >> jake, we absolutely are. all of the roads we are about to see president-elect joe biden pass through over the next several hours into tomorrow, he has traveled down all of these roads before. he has landed so many times at joint base andrews. he has come here to the national mall. and we'll see him later at the lincoln memorial. he has never done it in this moment on the cusp of becoming the 46th president of the united states. this city, this country, indeed the world has changed dramatically, jake, since mr. biden left this capitol four years ago as vice president. and this is just something that,
you know, cannot be said enough. this is a different moment. but this is why he was elected. this is why more than 80 million americans elected joe biden to come and take over this country, to try and heal this country, to try and turn around the pandemic. and that is something we are going to see, first and foremost, as he makes his first stop here on the lincoln mall. and he will be standing at the lincoln memorial, seeing 400 separate lights, signifying those 400,000 americans who have died in less than a year of covid. as we see his plane there, he will be taxiing, coming out with jill biden and his family also joining him. we saw a remarkable sendoff in delaware. he became emotional as he took that short flight here. we should also point out, jake, he wanted to make this journey on amtrak. he wanted to come back to washington as he had traveled some 8,000 times as a senator over more than four decades,
nearly four decades from wilmington to washington, but security concerns did not allow that. so, that is just underscoring the moment here as we see his plane pivoting there. and this is just something that he is -- you know, so many challenges are awaiting him. but again, he was elected for this moment. now he will have to deliver on his pledge of saying help is on the way. that is what he now will talk about tomorrow in that inaugural address. but before all of that, he will come here to the mall and pay tribute to the victims of covid-19 and he will be remaining here overnight in the blair house, across from the white house. of course, tomorrow he will be going to mass at cathedral of st. matthew the apostle. all the pomp and circumstance, but far more muted than at any other inaugural he has ever been to. he has certainly been to a lot, jake. >> that's right. if you're just joining us, we're watching joe biden in a private plane touching down at joint
base andrews. the biden transition team says that the trump administration did not offer a military plane for him to fly down in, which is standard protocol. just another example of this rather rocky transition of power because the outgoing president would not accept the election results. cnn political correspondent arlette saenz is on the national mall, like jeff zeleny has, has been covering joe biden for years now in his presidential quest. arlette, it was very emotional when skrbd said good-bye to delaware this morning and talked about, of course, his fallen son, beau biden, and how he should be the one being sworn in as president. >> reporter: yeah. jake, it's very clear that beau biden is at the top of mind and in the hearts of president-elect biden and his family, as they make this journey down to washington to see biden sworn in
as the 46th president of the united states, after he had pursued the presidency for decades. and you heard the president-elect talking about beau's service and the impact of his life, but also that impact that delaware had on his life. you know, joe biden often talks about his boyhood in scranton, pennsylvania. but it's delaware that made joe biden into the political figure that he is. bringing him to washington for 36 years as a senator and then those eight years he served in the white house. as you guys have talked about, joe biden has landed countless times at joint base andrews, flying on air force two while he was vice president. i had a chance to fly on air force two with the then vice president biden many times. and it was always a powerful moment whenever you see someone of that stature landing in this way. and today it's a little bit of a different format, given that he
is flying on a private plane. still the significance of him coming to washington after all these years, where he grew up in the senate. right after the death of his daughter and wife in that tragic car accident. it was the senate that really gave him a lot of purpose and finding meaning in public service as well as raising his young boys. and now he will be returning here to washington, which is in a very different reality than when he left it. and tomorrow when he goes to the capitol for his swearing in, that will be the first time that he is back here after that insurrection there last -- just two weeks ago. the president-elect has talked about how the senate holds very personal meaning for him and his family. and tomorrow he will be there on the steps of capitol hill as he's inaugurated. >> arlette saenz, thank you so much. we're watching and waiting for
the 46th president of the united states, president-elect biden, to come out of the plane. and it is really remarkable, dana, that once again we see an example of the trump administration, which will end tomorrow at noon, refusing to abide by basic decency and protocols, by sending a plane to pick up joe biden. it's why joe biden is on this private plane. >> it is. and at the same time, an example of joe biden and his transition, soon to be his administration, just working around it and trying to keep their eye on the ball, which is a very, very important ball. actually, there are multiple balls they have to keep their eye on right now. meantime, before he takes that oath, this is a moment. imagine what is going on, on the plane right now. the conversations being had between the prkt, the soon-to-be first lady and his family who
have tried and failed at this quest for the white house. this is the third time. two times they tried and failed. and he finally got there, and he will be the oldest person to have victory and to be the president of the united states. and he has been, as we just heard from arlette and jeff, been in this place, waiting on the tarmac so many times before in his life. there are times when you have people who are very new to this, not the least of which was the man who joe biden is replacing. but it's so familiar and yet so new at the same time for joe biden. >> he has neverlanded at joint base andrews under circumstances like this. not just because he will be the president, but because of just the task that is ahead of him. i mean, this country has not been in the middle of so many different crises in such a long
time. and for joe biden, someone who gave his entire adult life to washington, to be at the end of his career basically, coming back to d.c. to become the president of the you united sta when, frankly, the country is in crisis. that must be weighing on him as he is waiting to come off that airplane, waiting to take on a lot of ceremonial duties we'll see later today, but also to take on the task fully tomorrow. the covid crisis, the economic crisis the country is facing and, of course, the deep, deep partisan divisions. and, frankly, the rise of hatred and hate groups and domestic terror that we've seen really show itself in the last month. these are all the tasks that he faces. but it's going to someone who,
as we've been talking about, knows washington perhaps better than almost anyone in this town. >> abby, you talk about the hate groups. that's why president-elect biden said he was running for president, after president trump engaged in moral equivalence between the different sides of protesters in charlottesville, virginia. it was then vice president biden who said that this was going to be a battle for the soul of this country and decided to run for president. let's go to my colleague, wolf blitzer, who is closer to congress, where the inauguration will actually take place. wolf? >> it's really a beautiful scene behind us, jake, as you can see capitol hill, the u.s. capitol. it's extraordinary because it's something like we've never seen before. thousands of u.s. military personnel, national guard troops are here, protecting the u.s. capitol for understandable reasons.
john king is with us. you and i spent a lot of time over the years at joint base andrews, used to be called andrews air force base, flying in and out as we were white house correspondents. he will be received, the preside president-elect, we're told, by the commander of the 89th air lift wing, and his wife katherine snellson. there will be a little formal event going on but not much. >> the rest of the government is trying to treat this like a presidential inauguration even though the outgoing president, wolf, is not. when joe biden gets off this plane, this is the last time he will fly on a private plane for a very long time. he will be the commander in chief at the joint base an trues. as abby noted what make this is moment so extraordinary is the collision not just of the crises but so many personal and political dynamics. we're watching the scene at joint base andrews. president trump will leave. his farewell ceremony will be there in the morning. he will not even attend joe biden's inauguration.
at the capitol building behind us, we've been there many times, national guard troops patroling the streets, perimeter at the united states capitol. fantastic work by the national fward but this is not what we're used to seeing when we look over our shoulder here. number one, joe biden, it's a test to his resilience. it was 45 years ago when he set out to win the presidency, 1988. nice guy, but this is not his moment many said at the beginning of his campaign. people are looking for stability be, confidence, steadiness and joe biden will take the oath of office here behind us tomorrow. then he will be tested. he has been a senator for nearly 40 years, vice president for eight years. he has never been the ceo. he becomes the ceo at noon tomorrow with a country dealing with the pandemic. the economy is bleeding jobs. nearly a million americans filed for unemployment benefits last week and the insurrection just added violence to this
remarkable political divide. all of that on joe biden's plate in just a few hours. >> yet what's important is once the next president of the united states, the future first lady of the united states, jill biden, and their family go down, they'll get into a motorcade. j john, what i think is significant, they'll be driving over the lincoln memorial, the reflecting pool over there. there will be a very moving event, a very moving ceremony, remembering the 400,000 americans have died from the coronavirus over this past -- not even a year yet. but they will be remembered. >> and what an immediate signal of the change that comes at noon tomorrow. we have a president who is leaving, who told us this pandemic would disappear back in april, who ignored the science repeatedly, who rejected advice from his own advisers, who has not -- 60% of the cases in the united states of america have come in the last 77 days since the election. the president of the united states barely speaks about it.
when he does, he usually says things that do not match up with the facts. joe biden, as abby noted, lost a wife, lost children. empathy is his calling card. the first thing he will do in washington is to pay tribute to the 400,000 of our friends, neighbors and fellow citizens who have lost their lives, showing that empathy, compassion, understanding of loss and pain is back in the white house. he has a huge policy challenge when it comes to speeding up the vaccine rollout, doing the other steps necessary to put a science team in place. he wants to surge resources to the states. so a completely different philosophical view, empathy first from joe biden. then he will be tested immediately, much more activist, get the federal government more hands on in trying to help the states, both with bodies on the ground, and the stimulus package he hopes will get through the congress as quickly as he can. there's a lot of change. just about every compass point will change at noon tomorrow. the pandemic will be the thing watched most closely. can he bring his empathetic
approach to government and make the policy machine work differently, work better for the american people? >> you and i will have an excellent vantage point, overlooking the u.s. capitol, john, right behind us. david chalian is with us as well. david, we can't, you know, stress how important this moment is. not just right now, but in terms of american history, what is about to unfold. give us your perspective. >> no doubt this is an history he can moment. i think we also can't overstate right now, wolf, what an emotional release is about to happen for a majority of americans. john was saying, remember, that joe biden proved in the democratic nomination fight a year ago to be the man that fit the moment, to argue he was competent in a crisis and can handle that. but he also delivered on the promise that the democrats were looking for. somebody to end the era of donald trump. and he did so by 7 million more votes than donald trump got. he got a majority of americans to support him in a rather
impressive victory, in defeating an incumbent president. what i just don't think we can overstate is that for that majority -- yes, we are a divided country. he inherits that now as president, joe biden does. but for a majority of this country, there's this suspended, animated moment right now waiting for the exit of donald trump and watching this arrival of joe biden, landing in washington and about to assume the mantle of the presidency and assume sort of wearing the presidency on him is something that is going to be a really emotional experience for tens of millions of americans across this land, who voted to fire donald trump from this job. >> david, stand by. biden biographer is with us as well, knows the president-elect well, spent a lot of time with him. evan has written an excellent book on the whole subject. let talk, evan, since you know
biden as well as you do, what he must be feeling right now. just a little while ago when he was saying good-bye to his beloved state of delaware, he got so emotional, began to tear up. this is a very sentimental, emotional president-elect of the united states. >> yeah. he carries his emowings close to the surface. i've been thinking, wolf, as we've been watching these images, i've been on air force two with him, arriving at that very spot right there. and, you know, coming out of delaware today, you have to think of it not only as the cradle of his political career, but that's his place. it's a small state. he knows everybody. there was one election where he was running for the senate, he was so well known that the only bumper sticker he had to have in campaign just said joe. that was it. here he is now, going from that to the doorstep of the moment that he has been looking for ever since he was a teenager. it's not an overstatement to say. when he was in high school he
wrote high school compositions about the possibility of becoming a president. and here it is now. and i think it's worth saying. he entered this race because of one crisis. it was, after all, the charlottesville rally, as we heard from him so many times, that gave him a sense of a moral emergency in this country, that he felt like he had to intervene. then there was this other crisis. of course, the covid pandemic. and so you have him now arriving in the city and the first thing he's going to do, as john said, was go and pay homage to the people who have succumbed to that crisis. he finds himself facing these two daunting challenges. >> and in your book -- as we're waiting i want our viewers, who may just be tuning in, we're waiting for president-elect joe biden, first lady jill biden and their family to deplane, get off this private plane that's brought them from wilmington, delaware, to the nation's capital just outside joint base andrews in maryland.
even when he was so young, a teenager, he had these ambitions of potentially becoming president of the united states. >> yeah. it's one of these interesting stories that can sound almost like fiction, except it happens to be true in this case. as you heard from him before, he had a stutter as a young man. it was brutal. it was debilitating. he said to me, i couldn't speak. when he broke the back of that thing as a teenager, all of a sudden he felt the sense of confidence and started thinking about politics. john f. kennedy was inaugurated in his senior year of high school. biden went into his catholic day school, into the library and looked into the congressional directory to see what is it that people do in order to become senators and presidents? and he saw a lot of them were lawyers. that was the beginning of his path. he went to law school and eventually made his way back to
delaware. he used to talk about it to his high school football classmates, the idea that he might be president. nobody took him all that seriously, except he was so devoted to the idea. it's been a piece of his self imagination for as long as he has been thinking about adulthood. >> but you've seen him over these years, evan, transform to what he is today. i covered him for many years. here he is, the president-elect of the united states and jill biden. let's listen a little bit, as they're walking down these stairs
stairs. >> we're not going to hear what they're saying. colonel steven snellson and his wife, katherine snellson, receiving the biden family at this really historic moment. gloria, i think it is so, so significant -- gloria borger is with us. it's so significant that the first thing they're going to do is get in this motorcade and drive from joint base andrews in maryland right outside of washington, d.c. over to the lincoln memorial, the reflecting pool, to remember and honor the 400,000 americans who have died from covid. >> it is very important. and i think what it says is that finally you're going to have a president who will remember the people who died and will try and make sure the vaccines get in people's arms so you do not have to go through this anymore. as you know with joe biden, and you see him there surrounded with his wife and family will no doubt come out.
family is everything to biden. and the sad part is that his entire life has been book ended by tragedy and death. first, the death of his wife and young child, and just weeks after he was elected senator. and then the death of beau biden, who was 46 when he died. and biden, as evan was saying, does wear his emotions out there. and he will be a president unlike donald trump, who will talk about people's lives and saying to them, i know the feeling you have when there is a hole in your heart, because he has had that himself, wolf. >> and so, gloria, i wasn't surprised either, but i'm sure you weren't surprised, at his farewell remarks in delaware earlier today -- >> yeah. >> -- speaking about his late son, beau, speaking about his love for the state of delaware, who took in his family when he was a young boy. he was not only emotional but
you could see the tears coming out, down his cheek. >> well, he does get emotional. when i've interviewed him, he got emotional talking about his sister, val, who no doubt you will see, who has been with him all the way in his political career, and with him when he suffered tragedy. and beau, of course, is something special to him. and what he said today was, my only regret is that he's not here and we should be introducing him as president. it was beau who was worried about his father and told his friend, ted kaufman, i'm not so much worried about what happens to me after he had been diagnosed, but i'm worried that my father has a purpose, and my father will continue on after i pass. and i think that is always in the forefront of joe biden's mind. one of the reasons he chose kamala harris, i think, is not only because of her extraordinary record, but
because she had been so close to beau biden. and i think that means an awful lot to him. and i'm sure we're going to be hearing him talk about it. >> evan, you know, i'm sure he is thinking of his son, beau, as he gets ready to be sworn in tomorrow, right at 12:00 noon, as the 46th president of the united states. tell us a little bit about that. >> yeah. you know, the threads of his life we see intersecting right in front of us today. he, after all, meeting service members and beau biden, after all, served overseas in the armed services. it became part of the biden family connection to the armed forces. jill biden, when she was in the vice presidency -- during the vice president, she instituted an important program helping spouses of the men and women serving overseas deal with that difficulty, the strain of that. that was a program, of course, that ended under the trump administration. i think what you see today is also this moment in which the
pageantry, the beginning to see the earliest moments of this office to which joe biden and the whole biden family has paid so much respect over its life. you know, he actually hesitated before becoming the vice president in 2008 when the offer was first made to him because he thought of himself as a president. and when that moment, in 2015, 2016, finally came, when it seemed as if he wasn't going to have that possibility, you know, for a long time they had thought of their son, beau, as he mentioned in delaware. they called him joe biden 2.0. he often said -- joe biden would often say beau has all my best qualities and none of my worst. and there was a real sense of service and commitment and the presidency, and all of these things are wrapped up in one for the biden family. >> john king, as we see this motorcade leave joint base andrews and make that drive over to the lincoln memorial for this memorial service, honoring the
400,000 americans who have died from coronavirus, we can't stress enough that this is the first thing that the president-elect of the united states wanted to do. remember and honor the victims of coronavirus. and that is in such stark contrast, as you point out, to what the current president, the outgoing president of the united states has wanted to do over these many, many months. >> the current president, who will be the former president this time tomorrow, has ignored the pandemic, denied fact, logic, reason and so on from the very beginning. he said it was not going to be a pandemic. he said it would be gone by april. he said when there were 15 or so confirmed cases in the united states, that would be it and it would be gone. joe biden is president, in many ways, because of the failed leadership of president trump in this respect. to echo what everyone else said, it is who he is. he relates to pain. he relates to suffering. he believes the job of a
president is to acknowledge the pain and the suffering. so the flags on the mall are quite moving. it is a sad thing. this coronavirus also has scaleed back the inaugural, the insurrection and the heightened security scales it back even more. to see those flags where we would normally see crowds, look at it. it just stops you in your track. wolf, i go through these numbers every day on my program and i study them every night. it is numbing, and it is sad. so to have a president who wants to acknowledge the pain, acknowledge the loss of 400,000 of our citizens but also the pain of their families and those who they have left behind, a pain that he understands. i think it's a critical first step and one of the many dramatic turning of the page if you will. so much will change overnight in this town and joe biden thought it was important he pay tribute first right there to the pandemic raging across this country. >> inherit the worst of it right now because it's clearly getting
worse, at least over the next few weeks and months, before it gets better. >> coming up, as the nation is about to pay tribute to the more than 400,000 americans we lost in the coronavirus pandemic, jake will talk live with dr. anthony fauci about the pandemic and the enormous challenges facing the new president. we'll be right back.
we're back with our live coverage of the national covid-19 memorial here in washington. you're looking at live images right now of capitol hill. president-elect biden is going to make a point of honoring the more than 400,000 victims of the pandemic, as he prepares to be sworn in tomorrow. he will be going to right near the reflecting pool. he will be going to memorialize those who have been lost. we just reached the grim milestone of 400,000. right now let's turn to the man who is still in the white house for a few more hours, with kaitlan collins and jim acosta.
kaitlan, president trump put out another one of these videos. he's calling this, i suppose, his farewell address? >> yes, he is. typi typically, the president would deliver this from the oval office, prime time or the networks carrying it live. instead, president trump chose to record this yesterday, jake. it's about 20 minutes. he did so, it looks like, in the rose garden. he talks about what he sees as his accomplishments in his time of office. what he wants to be remembered by. he does not note the controversies. one other thing he doesn't do is mention joe biden by name or acknowledge his victory, except to say that there will be a new administration tomorrow. >> this week, we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping america safe and prosperous. we extend our best wishes and we also want them to have luck. a very important word. >> reporter: jake one other
thing that stuck out from this video is the president thanks his top staffers, chief of staff, his children and also the vice president and his family as well. that is notable. we had heard that people were trying to get the president to say something nice publicly about mike pence before they left office given, of course, their relationship has entirely fractured over his desire to try to overturn the results and when he last uttered that vulgarity to mike pence before he went to capitol hill ahead of that riot. it is noteworth he does mention the vice president by name in this video. >> and, of course, that rabid crowd was calling hang -- they were calling for the assassination of his own vice president. >> yeah. >> hang mike pence, hang mike pence. jim, let me go to you. obviously, president trump still not acknowledging the reality that biden beat him. although i suppose it's good news that he's acknowledging that he's not going to be president anymore. is there any -- does he address at all the horror that happened
two weeks ago tomorrow, the maga terrorist attack on the capitol? >> reporter: yes, jake. in this 20-minute video he does make a brief reference about what happened on january 6th. he does not take any responsibility for inciting that crowd of supporters who stormed the capitol. and he doesn't really accept any blame for what happened at the capitol. this is what he had to say. let me show you a clip of that and talk about it on the other side. >> all americans were horrified by the assault on our capitol. political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as americans. it can never be tolerated. >> reporter: so the president there, in that very brief cliff, sounds almost detached from his involvement in stoking that crowd and inciting the violence that unfolded january 6th. the other thing wooshd point out, jake, because i think it's one of the sad chapters of this presidency that will be long remembered, the president does talk about the coronavirus at
one point during this video and he refers to covid-19, once again, as the, quote, china virus when in so many ways it has become the trump virus because of the way he mishandled this pandemic which, of course, has resulted now in the deaths of 400,000 americans as of today, according to john hopkins university. till the very end, this is the attack no responsibility presidency, whether it's covid-19 or the siege at the capitol, jake. >> jim acosta, kaitlan collins, thanks so much. abby, when the president says that everyone american was horrified by what they saw, according to republican senator ben sasse, he heard from senior white house officials that donald trump was watching the images that day and was, quote, delighted and ivanka trump put out a tweet in which she was trying to tell people to stop rioting and she referred to them as american patriots. although she did delete the tweet. it's not accurate to say that
everybody was horrified by it. members of the trump family were the exact opposite in some ways. >> it's completely revisionist history. not just for those two reasons you laid out but also the president, during the attack, basically said this is what happens when you steal the election. >> right. >> he doubled down on the lie. and he doubled down on trying to explain away a rationale for the violence we saw. this eleventh hour effort to paint over, whitewash his r record, not just in the last two weeks, but of the last four years is really extraordinary. in this farewell address he talks about how, you know, he governed not as democrats or republicans but as a united country. that is completely, completely false. the president is one of the rare presidents, really, who regularly talks about blue states, talking about covid deaths as if we should exclude the ones from blue states because perhaps they were
mismanaged by democratic governors or democratic leaders. it's that kind of rhetoric that has gotten us to this point where we are now at 400,000 covid deaths on this day. it takes me back to this past summer, talking to white house officials about the potential of reaching 100,000 covid deaths. never in a million years did many of us think we would get to 400,000. at that time it was an unthinkable number. now president trump lets it go with sort of a blink of an eye. >> and this president has barely said anything, maybe actually nothing, about covid, about the deaths, about the fact that it is spiraling out of control. and it is still on his watch. hasn't said anything really of substance about it in months. the line in here that is frankly most offensive to me, and probably will be to a lot of americans, is -- this is part of the excerpts that the white
house released. i am especially proud to be the first president in decades who has started no new wars. here we are, not too far from the white house. here he is, in the white house, sitting in what is effectively -- what looks like -- thank god it's not but what looks like a war zone because of the number of men and women in uniform who have had to come here to fortify the nation's capital thanks to the violence that he has stoked from within. so, yeah, maybe he didn't start any new wars abroad, but he completely incited battle after battle and even, i would say, war domestically. and the height of that and the climax of that -- let's hope it was the climax -- was two weeks ago tomorrow -- yesterday. two weeks ago tomorrow. >> outgoing president trump and vice president pence like to talk about this is the first president in a long time who
hasn't gotten the united states involved in any foreign wars. well, okay. they've sure gotten us involved in what is a very ugly war inside our own borders. we are standing by for president-elect biden to arrive in washington, d.c. at the lincoln memorial as the nation pa pauses to honor the more than 400,000 souls lost to covid-19 here in the u.s. stay with us. >> man: what's my safelite story? my truck...is my livelihood. so when my windshield cracked... the experts at safelite autoglass came right to me... with service i could trust. right, girl? >> singers: ♪ safelite repair, safelite replace. ♪
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is going to be a very emotional tribute over at the lincoln memorial. president-elect joe biden and vice president-elect kamala harris are heading there to pay tribute to the loss of life due to covid-19. the incoming president of the united states and vice president are emphasizing their goal of ending the pandemic as the u.s. death toll just hit another gut wrenching number crossing 400,000. 400,000 americans have died in not even a year from covid. we expect to hear very stirring words and see striking images. in the next hour, the reflecting pool at the lincoln memorial will shine with 400 lights. an unprecedented display. similar ceremonies will be held across the united states, including at new york's empire state building. when the sun sets, the international airport in atlanta will light up as well. so will parts of miami. in the coming hour we'll show
you more of the communities joining in this show of unity and resilience. john king, it is a show of unity and resilience, dramatic moment about to unfold, to get going as we await the swearing in ceremony at noon tomorrow. >> that will be joe biden's message at this very divided time. try to get the country to come together. in the building behind us, that will be hard. mitch mcconnell, very important words today. the people who attacked that building were told lies, provoked by the president of the united states. there's some evidence of even the people who are loyal to the are president, president trump for four years, trying to turn the page. joe biden's challenge is to bring enough of the country together and the fact that he wants to make covid priority one, a, with a new team and with this tribute tonight both symbolically and action by bringing the new team. that will be the first test of accountability, can he keep his promise to speed up the vaccine rollout? can he get financial aid to state and local governments who have been hammered? he has promised additional stimulus money, additional help
for small business right out of the box. >> once president-elect biden becomes president, he is inheriting an awful situation when it comes to this covid pandemic. >> a horrible pandemic, made worse by the trump administration's mismanagement of it in so many ways. the u.s. has just passed the horrific milestone of 400,000 americans dead because of this pandemic. joining us now to discuss, dr. anthony fauci, director of the national institute of allergy and infectious diseases, who is also staying on in the biden administration. dr. fauci, good to see you. we know you got your second shot today of the vaccine. so, congratulations on that. how soon do you think before the rest of us are going to be able to get it? when do you think that will be able to happen? do you think biden will, for example, be able to do the 100 million vaccinations into the first 100 days? >> you know, jake, i'm fairly certain that that plan of the
president-elect is going to be doable. as you know, that's the top priority in the meetings we've had with zoom calls with him. he has made it very clear to the covid-19 team that this is a very important goal. and he's going to do whatever it takes to get there. and i feel pretty confident that we're going to be able to do that. >> one of president-elect biden's first acts in washington -- he just touched down at joint base andrews a few minutes ago -- he's going to a memorial for the 400,000 american lives lost to the pandemic. it's a rare moment. we haven't seen from the outgoing president an acknowledgement of the dev devastating loss. what's your reaction? i would ask you if you ever thought we would be at this point but you actually projected 400,000 dead a few months ago. >> yes, i know i did, jake. i'm sorry that that projection came about. but i think the important thing you mentioned just a moment ago
is that there is a lot of empathy that the president-elect is feeling for the extraordinary loss, which we felt in this country. that's unprecedented and historic in the worst possible way to already have lost 400,000 people. and there will be more deaths, because, as you know, the delay in which you see -- when you see new cases followed by hospitalizations, followed by deaths that things are going to continue to get worse before we can turn it around and get better. this is a situation where we have to have all hands on deck and the president-elect has made it very clear that this is his top priority. >> does anything give you hope about the ability of the biden administration, the incoming administration to get a handle on this, to get americans vaccinated, to curb the spread of the pandemic? >> you know, a lot of things
give me hope, jake. one of the things was the last time we met with the president, we briefed him and he briefed us about the kinds of things he wants. and he not only spoke to us about it, he spoke to the american public, that this is really -- he's just going to manage the heck out of this. we're going to put all the resources that we possibly can in to get as many people vaccinated as quickly and expedi expeditiously as possible. i mean, things like community vaccine centers, get ting out into the pharmacies, doing whatever we can, invoking the defense production act for the kinds of tools we'll need, trying to expand the people -- the categories of the people to be vaccinated and do whatever we can to expand the doses we would have available. those things are very much upfront on the president-elect's mind. is he tasked with a team to get this done. >> how many vaccines are in the
stockpile, do you think? >> well, i don't know what you mean, jake, when you say stockpile. things come right off out of the factories are just going to be going right out to the people. so the idea about stockpile, as i mentioned i believe under a previous interview that i had a conversation a couple of days ago, twice, with general perna, talking about what was sort of the misunderstanding about a stockpile. in the beginning, when we wanted to make sure that everyone who got one dose would get a second dose because of the uncertainty in the smoothness of the rollout of the doses that would be available, half of the doses would be held back so that people would be guaranteed to get their second dose. now that there's much more confidence that the rollout of doses would be consistent enough that when doses became available, you could give them to people. when the next shipment would come out, the people who had got the first dose, who were waiting
for the second dose would get the first priority. so you want to make sure that you would not have a situation where people got the first dose but could not get the second dose. and then anything after that would go to the next level of people who would be there for the first dose. so, what it is, in simple language, is a steady flow out from the reserve right out into -- from the factory into people's arms. >> okay. >> so the idea about a stockpile is just -- >> thank you so much. i get it. okay. thank you so much. i appreciate it. thank you so much, dr. fauci. we'll continue to talk to you as the country battle this is virus. just ahead, the solemn ceremony at the lincoln memorial begins soon. president-elect biden rememremember i ing the victims of covid-19 just hours before he takes office. stay with us.
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♪ a stuning view of the lincoln memorial here in washington, d.c. where president-elect joe biden is arriving right now. he will join with vice president-elect kamala harris for a national memorial service honoring americans who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. i'm wolf blitzer. we're standing by for this unprecedented ceremony to begin as the u.s. death toll from covid-19 has hit a staggering level, crossing 400,000 just a little while ago. here in washington, a reflecting pool at the lincoln memorial will glow with 400 lights. it should be a truly spectacular
scene. in indeed, landmarks across the united states will also light up as well, including the empire state building in new york city and one world trade center in new york as well. we'll see sites across atlanta illuminated. dozens of cities and towns are also participating in this memorial. parts of miami will light up. we're covering it all these hours. these are dramatic, historic events unfolding. jake, we will watch this. it will be very powerful and very moving. >> it will. and it's, frankly, tragic that we're at this moment, facing this pandemic, the worst in this country in a century and also that it has been so mismanaged. let's go to cnn political correspondent arlette saenz on the national mall, covering joe biden for us. arlette, it is true joe biden said he got involved in running for president this time because
of how divisive donald trump was and how he wanted to heal the soul of the nation. he couldn't have anticipated that there would also be this need to literally heal the nation of this pandemic. >> yeah, that's right, jake. joe biden really launched his campaign as one promoting unity, saying it's a battle for the soul of the nation. but now he is inheriting this very daunting task of trying to heal the nation amid the covid-19 pandemic. the president-elect has made it clear that fighting this virus is going to be a top priority of his in office, as well as trying to get the vaccination distribution under control. but tonight you will see at the opposite ends of the national mall, from where i'm standing, down by the lincoln memorial, the president-elect is making his very first stop here in washington, and he is trying to focus in, zero in on the
pandemic and the lives that have been lost. 400,000 lives have been lost during this pandemic. and as you'll see, not just -- in the short while you'll be seeing the president-elect and vice president-elect kamala harris. as you can see, there is some of her family that's already down by the lincoln memorial for this moment. in a short while, what you will be seeing is 400 lights around the reflecting pool, down by the lincoln memorial lit up in honor of those 400,000 lives that have been lost due to covid-19. and there will be buildings across the country that will also be illuminated from city halls in oakland, california, to scranton, pennsylvania. wrigley field in chicago being another one of those. what the president-elect really wants to do in his first act here in washington, d.c., ahead of his inauguration, is shine a light on so many lives that have been lost and so many families
that are feeling pain amid the coronavirus pandemic, something that the president-elect himself can relate to, having undergone loss, tremendous loss during the course of his life. so it will be a powerful moment in just a short while, as you see the president-elect and vice president-elect paying tribute to those many lives that have been lost during this pandemic. >> i remember over the summer, we held -- on sunday cnn held a memorial service for the 100,000 americans who had died. and one of the reasons cnn did it is because there was no leadership coming from the white house to do such a thing. it looks as though this new president will provide a different kind of leadership. you know, jeff zeleny, who is also on the national mall, often this country elects presidents who are very, very different from the president that is leaving office. mirror images in some ways.
and i think whatever you think of president trump, he is not exactly known for his compassion or empathy, and that is the exact opposite of the 46th president, joe biden. >> one of the calling cards of the joe biden presidential campaign. it's one of the reasons he won the primary and certainly the general election. it was that sense of empathy on display throughout the entire campaign. as the sun sets in the west here over the potomac and will be setting over the lincoln memorial behind it where president-elect joe biden is, the sun is setting on the trump presidency as well. but the challenges are directly in front of mr. biden. as he flew here to washington, as he said farewell to delaware, you could hear that empathy in his voice. you could see a tear drip down his cheek. this is what he said as he said good-bye to delaware.
>> look, uh -- you know, you all -- kind of emotional for me. through my whole career, through the good times and the bad. excuse the emotion, but when i d die, delaware grid on my heart. i am proud, proud, proud to be a son of delaware and i am even more proud to be standing here, doing this from the major beau bi biden. i only have one regret. he's not here. we should be introducing him as
president. but we have great opportunities. delaware has taught us anything is possible. >> and that is the empathy that president-elect joe biden has carried with him. it's what the american people, more than 80 million of them who voted for him like about him. and it is what, indeed, mr. biden hopes that others across the aisle will also see to like him and command the respect. talking about beau biden, his late son, this is someone he carries with him. and not far from where he was speaking there is the grave site of beau biden. and on that grave site is a harris/biden bumper sticker. there are flowers. there are flags. this is something that mr. biden wanted to see run for president. his son, beau, wanted him to run for president again.
that was one of the reasons he didn't run, of course, four years ago, in 2016, but one of the reasons that he did run now, to really take the country back from president trump. so, jake, as we sit here on the mall, watching the families begin to gather on the lincoln memorial, again, the sun is setting and, you know, the sun will be rising tomorrow on a new administration. but the challenges directly in front of mr. biden, as he looks east on the mall to the washington monument and, indeed, the u.s. capitol there. such a moment of history here for this man, who came to this town nearly half a century ago as a young senator and will be leading this country in an historic moment of challenge, jake? >> jeff zeleny on the national mall there. of course, president-elect biden was speak tlg in new castle, delaware, at the major beau biden national guard and reserve center.
dana, you and i have covered then senator, then vice president, now president-elect biden for quite some time. and the thing about him -- there's plenty to criticize, and we'll have months, years to discuss that. but the thing about him that no one can deny is that he really is somebody of unbelievable empathy. especially in ways that people do not see. we just saw a demonstration of it when he spoke at the major beau biden national guard and reserve center. but when he finds out somebody has lost somebody in their family, or somebody is dealing with a challenge, he gets their number. he calls them. and you and i know these stories. they're not stories that he and his staff publicize. we just know them because democrats, republicans, regular, apolitical people share them. >> that's absolutely right.
joe biden has empathy flowing through every part of his body. it's who he is. and it might seem even more extreme because he's going to be coming after a president who is missing an empathy chip. just missing it. at least in his public facing. there's no evidence to believe there's a whole lot of it in private. so the contrast could not be more stark. and i think that we have that discussion and we're going to have that imagery along with what i'm looking at over your shoulder, jake, which is magic hour in washington, d.c. we all live here. we all know that as fortified and as secure and as on high alert this city is right now, it is just beautiful. and you can see, again, the sun setting, and there are -- it's poetic. there are metaphors galore we
could talk about. this is an incoming president who will be looking at a city he has spent so much time in, looking at the beauty of it. and once -- you can see there. it's absolutely just stunning right now. once the sun sets, they'll light it back up in order to pay tribute to the more than 400,000 people who have lost their lives from this horrible virus. >> you know, what joe biden is doing tonight is just an expansive version of what he does on an individual basis to people, as you described, jake. consoling them. helping them through grief. helping them learn how to memorialize and helping them understand how to move forward. and what this country has not done over the last year is really, truly mark the loss of all of these lives, 400,000 and more americans, you know, brothers, sisters, family m members who are no longer there. it's important to have this moment on the eve of what will be a celebration tomorrow, a
reflective moment for this country in a place, on the steps of the lincoln memorial that has such significance for this country because it has seen so many different powerful moments. i think tonight will be another one of those powerful moments. and it will be important for the people who have lost loved ones to know that in the highest offices of this land, that their loss matters. >> yeah. >> that has been really missing. we can't just move on from every single person who has lost their lives over the last year. and it is fitting that they would be marked. but, you know, we should note 400,000 americans, they couldn't even get that many flags, you know, on to the national mall. it's just an extraordinary number. it's hard to fathom. i don't think that at any time in this country's history at once in such a short period of time that we've had to mark that magnitude of death. and so it's important for this country to take a moment and to
pause before we celebrate a marker of our democracy to pause and remember what we've lost. >> the united states, the people of this nation have been traumatized quite a bit in the last few years. and one of the ways that trauma can be imposed or inflicted on people is with indifference, is with callousness. and the lack of a leader bringing us together to mourn has been one of those traumas. the lights that you're seeing right there around the reflecting pool are going to be illuminated in a few minutes, as a gospel singer sings "hallelujah." those lights will go around the reflecting pool as well as throughout the country around other iconic buildings. i want to bring in sanjay gupta to talk for a moment. you and i have been talking
how much or how little some have taken it seriously as well. that center of grief and not having it, as you do after other national tragedies like 9/11, hurricane katrina or a school shooting of some sort has not been there. a reminder of grief. this has been a terrible chapter. >> the other thing that will be a big difference, of course, is the fact that incoming president biden will focus more on this, but also he has said that he will be straightforward and, in fact, wolf blitzer, he has said things will get worse before he gets better. >> he is being honest. this will clearly get worse before it gets better.
hopefully, the vaccine distribution will get on track. >> this memorial that's about to take place, let me set the scene. it's about to begin any minute now. the first african-american cardinal here in the united states, archbishop gregory will deliver the invocation, introduce vice president-elect kamala harris, who will speak. a detroit nurse, lori key, who sings to patients will sing amazing grace. that will set the scene for the president-elect to deliver remarks. vice president aharris, a woman of color, because of the security, because of the insurrection, some of the history by not getting some of the attention it deserves, joe
biden will not be president until tomorrow. but this is the first change, a president who says i'm responsible for the things my administration does. the pain of this pandemic and as they've needed more help. it's only one change, wolf, as we wait for that ceremony. the building behind us today a handful of the biden cabinet picks got hearings and what a stunning presentation of the change that is is coming. defense secretary, soon to be defense secretary says he will left lift the ban on transgenders serving in the military. president-elect nominating the number two, pennsylvania's top official will be the first transgender american to face confirmation, a 180-degree in immigration policy, including
the department of homeland security cabinet momny saying he will stop construction of the trump border wall. the state department nominee. we'll be back in the paris climate accords by this time tomorrow night. the scope of the change that is coming, beginning at noon tomorrow. i think we haven't spent enough time on it because of the importance of the moment, the final hours of trump, the insurrection and the security has brought to the nation's capitol and the important symbol ic and policy statement the president-elect will be making by paying tribute to the 400,000 victims of covid here in the united states. it is stunning when you think about it and you peel back every layer. trumpism will continue to live in the republican party. that is a story we're going to have to follow for weeks and months and years, but trump policy begins to go way at noon tomorrow and the scope of the change, and the quickness of the change outlined by the biden team is stunning. >> it truly is stunning. gloria borger is with us as well. a lot of reporting of biden over
the years. what does it say to you that he decided to hold this memorial service right now, honoring the 400,000 victims of this pandemic? >> it says to me that it's very important to him, and that he wants to set a different tone in washington. you know, this is someone, as we've been talking about this afternoon, who suffered an awful lot of grief of his own. and i think he understands how he can help people through their grief. one way he does it is by talking about it. and this is a man -- i'll never forget a story told to me by a staffer of his, who said to me after biden got some really bad news about beau and they were sitting in his office, and he was vice president at the time. she said to him, how do you do this? how do you get through this? and he looked at her very sadly and said, you know, unfortunately, i know how to get through this. i've been there. so he has done it more than
once. and the staffer said to me, imagine the worst thing that you can imagine happening to you in your life happen to him twice. so you just don't pick up empathy on the street. you don't just say, oh, this is something i need to learn. it is something you lives. and it is something he does. when he picks up the phone and calls people after they've lost someone. when he takes aside a child and says, you know, i used to stutter, too. let me help you figure out how to do it. it is how he has survived. and in a way, it is how he has remained optimistic, because he knows you can survive it. >> certainly does. evan osnos knows that as well, biden biographer, a cnn contributor as well. for biden, and explain this, it's not just a number, 400,000. these are real people. mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. and he will underscore, i'm
sure, that point. >> yeah. you know, we are going to be talking over the next couple of days a lot about roosevelt's presidency, because he started with a huge challenge before him. one thing roosevelt also told us was that the presidency is not just an administrative office. it's fundamentally a moral office. and we've seen that over the ages at high moments in the presidency, when ronald reagan helped americans understand the crash of the challenger shuttle or when barack obama sang "amazing grace" at a chapel in south carolina. you know, there are these moments when a president is called upon to begin to make some meaning out of these terrible moments in our lives. the interesting thing about it, in some ways, because president trump was not doing that, because he essentially abdicated that role, joe biden as a private citizen tried to do it. i heard a recording played for me by an american in michigan, who received a call one day from joe biden. his campaign was trying to get him on the phone with people who were suffering through the pandemic. they had a conversation about
it. this man was in his room, trying to keep his wife and kids from getting sick. and joe biden gave him practical advice. he said to him, look, i've been in your moment. i can't know exactly what it feels like, but i've had moments in my life -- >> hold on a second, evan. i want to point out they're walking in. you see the president-elect, future first lady of the united states, dr. jill biden, walking in. kamala harris, the future vice president of the united states. they're walking in right now. and we'll be hearing from the cardinal, archbishop of washington, cardinal gregory, first african-american cardinal of the united states, who will deliver the invocation. this will be a somber moment, john. i just want to listen in a little .
at this twilight hour, our beloved nation reverently pauses in supplication to remember and pray for the many thousands of people who have died from the coronavirus during this past year. we turn to the lord of all, to receive these, our sisters and brothers into eternal peace and to comfort all those who grieve the loss of a loved one. this virus, more than taking the lives of too many of our citizens, as well as people around the globe, has left in its wake a sobering awareness that we are all united in the sorrow that we recognize today. we pray for those who have died and the families and loved ones
that they left behind. we do not -- we do so not as strangers or disinterested persons, but as fellow citizens who share some limited portion of their grief and sorrow. we pray for the countless families and relatives who had to surrender their loved ones without the comfort and the consolation of a familiar funeral ritual, according to their religious traditions or selections. deprivation only added to the sadness engendered by the death of a friend, a relative or a colleague. may our prayer this evening serve as a small expression of our national desire to comfort
and strengthen those who have endured the loss of a loved one to this pandemic. and may it be a resounding gesture of gratitude for all those who have cared for the victims of this virus and their loved ones. our sorrow unites us to one another, as a single people with compassionate hearts. may our prayer strengthen our awareness of our common humanity and our national unity at a time when harmony is a bond that seeks to comfort and strengthen us as a single people, facing a common threat that is no respecter of age, race, culture or gender. let us, with one heart, commend
for that beautiful prayer. we gather tonight a nation in mourning, to pay tribute to the lives we have lost. a grandmother or grandfather who was our whole world. a parent, partner, sibling or friend who we still cannot accept is no longer here. and for many months, we have grieved by ourselves. tonight, we grieve and begin healing together. though we may be physically separated, we, the american people, are united in spirit. and my abiding hope, my abiding prayer is that we emerge from this ordeal with a new wisdom, to cherish simple moments, to
imagine new possibilities and to open our hearts just a little bit more to one another. it is now my great honor to introduce lori marie key. lori is a nurse at st. mary mercy lavonia hospital outside of detroit. her community was hit hard when the virus struck, and lori was assigned to the covid unit. lori is known for singing on the hospital floor and a video of her singing a certain hymn inspired our nation. she joins us this evening to honor those we have lost with that same hymn "amazing grace." >> thank you so much vice president-elect harris. it is an honor to be here with
you and with president-elect biden. working as a covid nurse was heartbreaking. it's heartbreaking for the patients who were sick. it was heartbreaking for the families who couldn't be there with them and it was heartbreaking for those caring for them. but when i'm at work, i sing. it gives me strength during difficult times, and i believe it helps heal. so here is "amazing grace." ♪ amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me ♪ ♪ i once was lost
thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you, lori. his eminence, i mean this from the bottom of my heart, if there are any angels in heaven, they're all nurses. we know from our family experience what you do, the courage and the pain you absorb for others. so, thank you. thank you. your eminence, cardinal gregory, yolanda adams, to heal, we must remember. it's hard sometimes to remember
but that's how we heal. it's important to do that as a nation. that's why we're here today. between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights in the darkness along the sacred pool of reflection and remember all who we lost. ♪ i heard there was a secret chord the day it played and it pleased the lord.
pandemic. a really, really moving ceremony. you can see the reflecting pool, the lights around the reflecting pool. normally during these moments leading up to the inauguration of the new president of the united states, tens of thousands would want to be there on the scene of the national mall. that's not happening this time. it's so painful to a lot of us who have covered these kinds of inaugurations over the years, to be so concerned right now about a security situation but also for the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to kill so many people. >> it is very painful. and it's sad. but in another way, it's also, in some ways, fitting that the new president has decided on this night that sacred place will be dedicated to 400,000 americans who, frampgly, didn't get much attention from their current president. >> by the way, john, you can see the empire state building being lit up in red right now. lights will be going up all over the country to honor these
americans, to honor these americans who have died. these are live pictures coming in from detroit right now. the gm building, you can see, in detroit. we'll show a lot of this during the course of the next several minutes, what's going on. city hall in philadelphia right there. a beautiful scene. and a really moving tribute to those americans who have lost their lives. and so many more americans are still suffering from the after-effects of coronavirus. >> and the symbols, the lights on that national mall, in the shadow of the lincoln memorial, stretching toward the capitol where we are around the country, again, a tribute to 400,000 of our friends and neighbors and fellow citizens who have not rece received the dignity and honor they deserve from the current president. and an important signal. sometimes we look for flowery speeches at moments like this. what joe biden has done more recently in his career and his
campaign has proven the power of few words spoken with if you will. to heal, you must remember. that's a very important message as we've gone through this horrific pandemic. we are still going through this horrific pandemic. hopefully, light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine. the accountability for it to shift from president trump to president biden at noon tomorrow. but we talk so often about the political divide. joe biden cannot cure it. this is a very polarized, divided nation. it was before president trump. it is even more so now. but with moments like this, respect, dignity, honor and empathy, the virus doesn't know who you voted for. it doesn't care who you voted for. joe biden is paying tribute to everybody there in the acts he can do to accelerate the vaccine rol rollout, if he can get more stimulus, small business aid to all americans, regardless of who they voted for. there is opportunity in this crisis for the new president. again, you're not going to wipe
away the divide. can you chip away at it a little bit? i think paying tribute to all americans, the pain that this coronavirus has put on every corner of america, red, blue, urban, rural. this is pretty powerful. yes, you're right. there are normally a lot of people right there but people who need us to spend a few minutes, giving them the honor, dignity and compassion they deserve. that's who those lights represent. >> it's so meaningful for the soon-to-be president of the united states. very devout catholic, man of faith. i'm sure when he heard the archbishop of washington say what he said, cardinal dpregry, he was so moved. all of us were moved. jacob, back to you. >> it's just striking, wolf, the pandemic has been raging since february, march of 2020. and this is the first moment we have experienced as a nation coming together to mourn and to
acknowledge the loss. more than 400,000 lives, not to mention millions of americans who have been infected, some of whom will have health problems for the rest of their lives. and this is the first moment that we, as the united states of america, are acknowledging that on a national level. and, abby, it just strikes me that it is so important and significant that joe biden, the president-elect, he touches down at joint air base andrews. he doesn't even get saluted because he's not the president yet. he's not the commander in chief. yet his first stop, his first stop is to memorialize those americans who have -- he has lost. he didn't go to blair house. he didn't say hi to the troops or any of the other things he could have done. he acknowledged this moment. >> it's striking. and it is remarkable now, but it
should not be remarkable, that a president, someone who would be president is putting the attention on someone else other than themselves, putting the focus back on to the american people, not on himself. not making this a moment about self advertisement but reflecting back to the american people its own greatness. that nurse who sang "amazing grace" tonight it's the reminder of the sacrifices that doctors and nurses across the country are still making today, as we sit in really the depths of the pandemic. and so it is a symbol, i think, of what biden and his administration would like to do, which is just to say to the american people, this is no longer about the man sitting in the white house. but it's about what the man sitting in the white house will do for you and will do about the problems that you're facing.
and i think that's so important. because we have been dealing with exactly the opposite of that, the mirror image, as you said, jake, of that, in a president who focuses almost exclusively on himself, on creating crowds for himself, on pomp and circumstance. we'll see a little bit of that tomorrow. this is something completely different. and it's a reflection of the american people showing american greatness to itself and reflecting that. and not just focusing on the person in the white house. >> abby, you mentioned earlier how many historic moments have happened at that memorial that we're looking at right now, the lincoln memorial. the country right now is as divided, probably hasn't been as divided as it is now since that man was president, since that man was inaugurated in 1861. and so there is so much symbolism in not just going
there to commemorate and honor the hundreds of thousands of people who have died from coronavirus, but to honor the theme that joe biden ran on from the get-go, way at the beginning when he was first in the primary campaign, talking about the need for healing, the need for unity. here he is, beginning to come full circle. and i couldn't help but think about as we heard that amazing rendition of leonard cohen's "hallelujah" how many different ways you can take that and how many people are hearing "hallelujah" and are thinking that is not just about coronavirus. it is about the changing of the guard here in washington. >> lori key, the nurse from outside detroit, who sang -- she first burst into the public life in april because of a viral video of her singing.
yet another example of the need for the american family to grieve together, to come together and yet another symbol of the lack of leadership. let's bring in evan osnos, new yorker writer and also joe biden biographer. evan, there really is something -- joe biden, of course, ran for president twice before in 1987. he didn't even make it to 1988. in 2008, he got 1% in iowa. and yet he shellacked president trump and did away with his democratic challengers. it was a pretty impressive field, by the way. there really does seem to be something about joe biden that is for this moment. >> yeah. it feels as if our politics, our moment in history has sort of converged to make sense for him. it makes sense in the context of his life.
take, for example, what he just said in his remarks. he said let us shine the lights in the darkness. you know, that is a comment that echoes with a line that has been important to him for a lo long time. after the death of his son, beau, in 2015, his wife, dr. jill biden, taped a message to the mirror in their bedroom and it said faith sees best in the dark. the idea became very important for joe biden. what it meant to him was that there are moments of suffering, moments of cruelty that call on us to find our faith, and often they are beyond the bounds of reason. we cannot hope to just decipher them, using the ordinary tools that we go about our day. we need that higher reason for making sense of it. the and i think what you hear from him, and you'll hear more of that over the course of the next couple of days, is not only trying to speak about the people who have died, the people we have lost, but also the is
survivors, the family members, the people who are suffering with long-term symptoms. that is a second scourge we will be dealing with for years to come and absorbing that as a society. >> there is something, abby, purposeful about biden in this moment in the sense that he is a man of eternal optimism despite the horrific tragedies he has had to suffer, losing his wife and daughter in 1972. losing beau, his beloved son, a few years ago. yet he is still so resilient. i don't know where he gets it from, the strength and the courage to be so optimistic. to seem as though he really does believe that this country's best days are before us, even in such a dark period. and it is such a strength of his that maybe the nation needs right now. >> yeah. you know, biden's optimism is such an interesting thing.
and it's something that i think even democrats who support him struggle with because he does kind of believe in looking for the best in not just, you know, the moment that you're in, whether it's dealing with grief, but also in our politics. >> yeah. >> in the people that are across the aisle. when many democrats are angry and want to lash out, joe biden is often the one saying no. wait. we're not going to do it that way. i do think that in november his victory -- you called it a shellacking -- made some believers out of some democrats who were skeptical about whether that kind of politics really could work in this era. but the test remains. there is so much more to come. and he is going into it believing that he can work with mitch mcconnell. he's going into it, believing that he can turn around the covid response. and those are -- he's going into it, believing he can get a massive stimulus bill together
to restore the economy. and all of those things are going to be really tall orders for joe biden. but one of the reasons, perhaps, for his optimism is because, yeah, he has run for president multiple times. he had really poor showings, very poor showings. and then ultimately did it again, one more time, and was victorious. and i think that in his mind that is a lesson that you shouldn't just take the losses and go home, that you should continue to try if you feel there's something left to be done. we'll see whether or not he's successful in some of his more ambitious things but particularly his view of bipartisanship is something that will be a characteristic of his administration and it will be the most significant challenge that he has given, that we are facing right now given what we saw in washington. >> i happen to think, and i want know what dana thinks about
this. i happen to think mitch mcconnell may be the least of biden's republican problems. >> right. >> mitch mcconnell, senate republican leader, earlier today said that the mob, referring to the terrorists who attacked the capitol two weeks ago, the mob was fed lies. they were provoked by the president and acknowledgment of the reality we all witnessed the last few months, and that horrible day two weeks ago. mitch mcconnell counterpart in the house, kevin mccarthy, he is one of those liars, one of those powerful people. two-thirds of the republicans in the house voted for the lie, voted to undermine disenfranchised voters based on those lies. is joe biden naive to think he can work with these people who literally performed in an undemocratic way?
>> right. people who don't have the same baseline reality that joe biden does, and everybody else who believes facts and who believes evidence and in the case of people that supported the president like you talked about, republicans who ignore, pretend there's evidence that doesn't exist. so the answer to your question is we'll see. i mean, he is somebody who does believe that his five decades in washington gives him experience to look past some of those things, but never before has any president had to look past a fundamental difference in whether or not he legitimately won other than the differences between al gore and george w. bush, and even then the democrats, it is not the same, totally not the same. i am saying that's in terms of the rawness that is here, and it
is not even close to the same when it comes to the reality because your word was right, joe biden shellacked donald trump at the polls. >> let me bring in gloria borger because gloria did a moving and powerful documentary about joe biden. gloria, i hesitate to think of what we would be experiencing now, what we would be covering right now if kevin mccarthy instead of being house minority leader had been the speaker of the house and had actually worked to allow the coup to actually not just vote for sedition but actually succeed in it. i don't know what the state of the nation would look like. do you think that joe biden has a clear eyed view of who the republicans in the house who voted to undo democracy, right? what they did was undemocratic, to throw out millions of votes, real votes, based on lies, do
you think biden has a clear idea who he is? >> i do. look, he has been in politics 40 years plus. he is not naive. he understands who they are. but as his wife once told me, he doesn't hold grudges and he keeps his eye on the ball and i think he understands what he has to do, and it goes to be said at the memorial service which was moving to me, he said to hear, you must remember. that's how we heal. his first job right now is to get the country to remember what it has been through, but to be optimistic. this is how biden gets his optimism, in a strange way. he could be a man full of grievance like the current president. he could be a man who sees himself as a victim, like the current president. instead he is a leader who says
i am not a victim, this happened to me, i have to figure out how to get beyond it, how to get others beyond their grief and problems in their life. one of the problems in their life now, jake, is covid and unemployment and civil rights and civil unrest. i think when you hear biden today, you understand where he is coming from and actually who he will be as a leader, so he's not naive but he is not somebody that's going to make an enemies list ever. he will say you didn't work with me this last time, but i will listen to you. i won't come into that room thinking that i know better. let me see where you are and let's try and figure this out. that's who he is. >> let me ask you what role biden's catholicism, his faith, plays in his optimism.
>> it is at the core of how he sees himself. i mean, look, he thought about becoming a priest, not just once, not just twice, three times in his life. this has been part of his life forever. one of the reasons why it helps him is it puts him into the context of something bigger than himself. one of the reasons he talks about catholicism, why he invokes literature and pieces of scripture, it is a way of saying to people that none of us are alone, we're all in this lineage of people that came before us, children and grandchildren that will come after us. it is partly a sense of saying, a way of saying others had been through what you are going through yourself and you may find your way through it, but he is not optimistic in any bland or unsteady way. this is the product of a lot of hard thinking. he had moments in his life, as gloria said, he had moments he was at the bottom of the well.
thought of suicide after the death of his late wife and daughter, and instead he found purpose and that word, i think we'll hear a lot about that word, purpose, that gives him optimism, the idea you can devote yourself to something bigger than yourself and may in fact help other people. >> one of the things, abby, interesting about joe biden starting his presidency by, a, acknowledging the loss of 400,000 americans, more to covid, but doing it in a way that's grounded in faith is that president trump enjoyed the support of a lot of very religious people, a lot of devout christians and jews, but he is not a religious person, nobody that knows anything about this would take issue, he is not a devout person, he referred to 2 core in thee ans, hasn't lived
according to biblical verse. a lot of catholics look at joe biden's catholicism, paired with his progressive views on politics, including women's rights and gay rights, et cetera, and they're skeptical. it really is, even if it is a progressive form of catholicism, i am no theologian, it is a core of who he is in terms of basic decency. >> you see him acting on his religious beliefs, his devotion to his church. i mean, he goes to church regularly, diligently, even in the height of the campaign, regularly went to church as often as possible and i do think that, you know, joe biden has had to struggle in his life with balancing his faith, balancing his politics. you know, he was not always in
step with progressive democratic politics for the entirety of his career. he has come to a place many democrats would say that he is in the sort of mainstream of the democratic party, but joe biden has walked that journey publicly throughout his more than 30 years in office and so, you know, he is who he is. i don't think he tries to put on airs about his faith. but it has been remarkable, especially i remembered in the republican convention the degree to which so many speakers publicly questioned joe biden's faith, questioned his catholicism and devotion to the church. that is just a sign of our politics but i don't think joe biden is the type of person who is constantly trying to declare his version of catholicism is
one others should have as well. that's a stark difference from what we've seen the last four years where there's a sense if you don't believe in certain things, you're not a person of faith. >> and listening to evan talking about the now president-elect being in high school when john f. kennedy was elected and that was a campaign where obviously his catholicism was a huge issue for him, one that he and his political advisers felt he had to confront with a big speech that he gave to make clear the pope is not going to run the country, i am going to run the country and kind of walk that line. and joe biden didn't have to do that in any way, shape or form. it is one example of how things have changed in many, many ways with biden's election. aside from the fact he was getting falsely attacked from republicans about not having real faith, it was a nonissue.
>> he is only the second catholic. pretty remarkable when you think about it. cnn special inaugural coverage continues right now. a powerful image of the reflecting pool at the lincoln memorial, now aglow in honor of 400,000 americans that died of the coronavirus pandemic. look at this. the empire state building in new york city, lit up as well. new york is one of scores of cities and towns across the united states taking part in the national covid-19 memorial that's happening tonight. i am wolf blitzer with special coverage on this inauguration eve here in washington. you heard president-elect biden moments ago say in order for the nation to heal, we must remember after all we have been through
and all we have lost. now the incoming president and the country counting down to the moment he takes the presidential oath just before noon tomorrow over at the u.s. capitol and begins his quest for national healing. let's bring in our political correspondent jeff zeleny down on the national mall, not far from where we are on capitol hill. set the scene for us, jeff. this is really a moving, powerful evening that's unfolding. >> wolf, it was incredibly powerful and dramatic hearing silence of the national mall as the lights behind me in the reflecting pool surrounded, marking 400,000 americans that died of covid. now president-elect joe biden has returned to blair house, spending the evening there. blair house is the place where dignitaries go, heads of state go, directly across from the white house. he can see his new residence,
the white house, just across pennsylvania avenue. i am told he will be spending the evening there with his family, putting finishing touches on the inaugural address that he will be delivering tomorrow around noon. i am told it will be about 20 minutes long or so. it is going to be first and foremost calling the country to unite. it's also steeped in optimism and faith, and faith as we have been talking about is a central part of joe biden's life, who he is. that's why he is starting tomorrow morning, the day he becomes the 46th president of the united states at mass. he often goes to mass. he is going to start his day at the cathedral of saint matthew the apostle in downtown washington. he also invited speaker nancy pelosi to join him, senator chuck schumer who tomorrow becomes the democratic leader of the senate, majority leader, kevin mccarthy and mitch mcconnell. he will be trying again to show
unity and purpose for what he can accomplish, but again, going to the capitol to deliver the inaugural address. it is going to be without question the most important speech he has ever given. if you think in history all of the volumes of words that senator joe biden gave for years inside the building, tomorrow he will stand on the west front of the capitol, overlooking the national mall, looking beyond to the lincoln memorial, exactly where he was tonight, framing all of the challenges for the country. we know that president trump will not be on hand, the first president in modern history to not be there. but other living presidents will be. george w. bush, bill clinton, barack obama. so clearly steeped in history. but for tonight, i am told, spending it with his family, putting finishing touches on the important speech that he'll give tomorrow. >> it will be critically important, and the outgoing president, 152 years since a
president has not attended his successor's inauguration on capitol hill. arlette saenz is covering the biden transition, soon to be covering the biden white house for us. arlette, tell us what else we can anticipate. >> reporter: well, wolf, i think the president-elect over the course of the next 24 hours will really be projecting this message of unity with that visit to saint matthew's church with four congressional leaders invited, expected to attend, and stretching all the way to the inaugural address. joe biden attended many inaugurations in his past. tomorrow will be the day that he will finally reach that reality that he has been striving for for so long as he becomes the 46th president of the united states. so much of this inauguration is going to look completely different than the way president-elect biden probably imagined it when he first ran
for president. there will be the attendance of the former presidents, but president trump notably will not be in attendance. biden said he welcomes that decision from the president not to come. vice president mike pence will be on hand tomorrow and also accompanying this moment for joe biden is also another historic moment when vice president elect kamala harris is sworn in as the first black woman, first woman from south asian descent to be sworn in as vice president. she has chosen justice sonia sotomayor to give her that oath. she was the first latina to serve on the supreme court. that will be a powerful, historic moment tomorrow. also, hanging over this, how different of an inauguration this is going to look. there are so many people who would traditionally travel here to washington to see the president of the united states at his inauguration, but due to
coronavirus pandemic, that's just not possible this year. as you can see behind me, there are thousands of flags lining the national mall, about 200,000 flags representing those people that cannot travel here to washington due to the pandemic, due to security concerns. the biden inaugural committee really wanting to shine a light on that, trying to make this an inclusive ceremony for all. you will see the president-elect at the west front of the capitol tomorrow as he takes the oath. there will be other elements throughout the day, including a visit to arlington cemetery where he and the ex-presidents will lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier. there will be a virtual inaugural parade, looking a bit different than years past, and even in the evening there will be morse celebrations. no inaugural balls, but a prime time celebration where the
president biden will be speaking to cap off the momentous moment as he becomes the 46th president of the united states. >> we have live coverage of all of that, including the celebration tomorrow night. all of that will be airing live here on cnn. arlette, don't go too far away. with hours left in office, president trump is secluded at the white house, hasn't been seen in public in days, but did release a video a short time ago, farewell message highlighting what he believes are achievements of his presidency, making rare acknowledgment, very rare acknowledgment of tomorrow's transfer of power. >> this week we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping america safe and prosperous. we extend our best wishes and we also want them to have luck, a very important word. we restored american strength at home and american leadership
abroad. the world respects us again. please don't lose that respect. i want you to know the movement we started is only just beginning. there's never been anything like it. i go from this majestic place with a loyal and joyful heart and optimistic spirit and a supreme confidence that for our country and for our children, the best is yet to come. thank you and farewell. god bless you. god bless the united states of america. >> bring in white house correspondent kaitlan collins. how is the outgoing president spending his final hours at the white house? >> reporter: well, wolf, i think the taped address from yesterday says a lot. no reporters were invited for that. wasn't conducted live in real time like typically past presidents do.
we are told by sources is that the president is sheltering in place during his final hours in office and has a muted demeanor after he was talked out of using pardon power for his family, for his political allies involved in the rally that happened on the national mall where arlette was just standing before that riot that happened on capitol hill involving his supporters. the president is finding himself in a position, wolf, that he hasn't been in in his four years in office, boxed in by his own actions and worried about senate republicans and what they think of his last steps before he does leave office. that is playing a big role in what we're going to see in the pardon list we expect to get tonight, still haven't received yet from the white house. it appears there are last minute negotiating going on. the president is concerned who he is pardoning, what senate republicans will think of it. he is concerned about being convicted in the senate trial, wolf. this is something new for the president. typically senate republicans are often responding to what the
president does, making sure they don't anger him. the reverse is happening now. that's incredibly unusual for the president. i'm told the reason he is worried about being convicted in the senate is not necessarily because he could lose perks that an ex-president gets or worried about not being able to run for office again, he is worried what it could do to his legacy if he is a republican president who does get convicted in the senate. this will be his second trial. it is remarkable that the president has basically been completely removed from the public eye during the last full week in office. >> stand by, i want to get back to you, kaitlan. john king, he is clearly leaving office, leaves tomorrow, has a ceremony they organized at joint base andrew, departure ceremony. he is clearly leaving as a disgraced president given what happened. >> disgraced, diminished. the administration brought the term alternative facts, the president in the farewell
address living in alternative reality. let me read one of the lines. above all, we reasserted the sacred idea that in america, the government answers to the people. for two months, lied about the election, disrespected, tried to defy the will of the people. he tried to defy them and sent his supporters on that building to try to defy them in the end. it is beyond an alternative fact, it is a parallel universe. contrast it to what we've seen the last hour in washington. the president-elect paying tribute to the 400,000 friends, neighbors, fellow americans. we don't know who they voted for, don't care who they voted for, they're citizens of america, deserve our compassion. tonight they got it from the man this time tomorrow will be president of the united states. the coarseness and chaos of trump giving way to compassion of joe biden. that doesn't mean joe biden will not have giant policy challenges. doesn't mean joe biden will not make mistakes, but the
difference in tone and how you view your own people, your citizens. you saw that. president trump never talks about the pain of the pandemic. he tries to wipe it away as if it is not happening. joe biden acknowledging it head on, paying tribute to 400,000 and promising to tell the truth as he moves forward and the president deals with the pandemic. coarseness and chaos that define trump, disruption that defined trump, i think we're seeing dignity and compassion from the new president tonight. again, now the majority is in the building behind us. if you're joe biden, number one, you want to keep what you have, a resounding win in the election, and you hope to chip away at those that are skeptical. i think the dignity, the pictures showed the power of the pictures, lights along the national mall. it is amazing and it is the beginning of the turning of the page, beginning of a new chapter. we don't know where it takes us, we know what it is closing the
books on. >> we know the president-elect has said repeatedly he wants to bring the country together. but the country right now, let's be honest, is deeply divided. there's a huge number of trump supporters who still believe the election was stolen. >> remember, years ago we covered the clinton white house during impeachment. thought the country was divided, polarized then. we saw two weeks ago tomorrow violence on the united states capitol, violent assault, insurrection against the united states government inspired by the american president. it remains unthinkable. now, those that are behind it are being held to account. it will forever, never mind the impeachment trial, that will be a stain on president trump. that is part of the biden challenge. he is not naive. he knows he can't wipe that away. his best hope is to begin to speak to hope. people get a vaccine, doesn't matter who you voted for. people get a stimulus check, doesn't matter who you voted
for. economy starts to come back, doesn't matter who you voted for. that's what joe biden has to hope for. that in his actions and performance he can begin to turn the temperature down. that's his only hope now. fidelity to his agenda, beginning with vaccine rollout, economic stimulus and go from there. but that's all the policy and what will come ahead. the first act is to try to make a statement, again, we will be showing pictures through the night. i think the lamps, lights, flags along the national mall, look at that. that is your president-elect paying respect to the pain of the pandemic. something president trump has simply refused to do, and the number one job is to keep the country safe. as joe biden said tonight, to heal you have to remember. that's remembering. >> president trump seems to be mostly concerned about how big the crowd will be at joint base andrews tomorrow when he leaves washington, gets on the plane. air force one, flies to florida.
david chalian is with us. david, the president, new president, incoming president, president biden after he is sworn in delivers a speech, supposed to be about 20 minutes. how, if at all, will he address the former president? >> well, his team has indicated he will acknowledge this moment that the country finds itself in right now, and obviously that has been a moment largely defined by donald trump in many ways, and whether or not it means actually stating president trump's name or just broader time he finds himself in remains to be seen as you heard jeff zeleny. there's tinkering still going on with the inaugural address. his aides made clear, it is not that he is trying to ignore or paper over what happened at the capitol two weeks ago or what we
have been through throughout four years of the trump presidency, and the contrast on display tonight was so stark. i mean, those lights that are just shooting out from the lincoln memorial along the reflecting pool, it is like almost extensions of joe biden's arms embracing america. it was a moment where the new president came to town and sort of convened the country in this moment of remembrance, outstretching his arms, and contrast it with the video you saw of a disgraced president on his way out at his lowest point in his presidency at the very end here, by himself, fighting for his political movement to live on, and not even necessarily promising that he is going to be leading that movement, you noted in his remarks tonight. i think that sort of isolated
moment of donald trump inside the white house versus joe biden on the national mall with an embrace of the country in this dark time on the eve of his becoming the 46th president. you couldn't get a stronger contrast. >> it was amazing when you think about it for those of us that covered all of this in the past several years. evan, what do you think, you know biden well. how do you think he will address the issue that there's a transfer of power from trump to biden. >> he has to describe the moment we are in and path forward. you can't pretend we aren't where we are and allow us to stay in agony of the moment. the way you fuse it together, you begin to talk about practical steps that can lead us out of the predicament. he talks about unity. he likes to say it is not some pie in the sky notion, not just
a term, it is the idea that there are things we can agree on, things as basic as john says as the idea of getting 100 million vaccines into people's arms. that's not something blue states and red states need to disagree on. if you begin to do those things, you breakdown barriers of distrust, that forms the foundation of unity. that's the spirit he is going to try to convey tomorrow. part of that is acknowledging what we have been through. this is, after all, a period of mourning. we're not just mourning for the lives lost in covid, we're mourning for the image of ourselves as a country, we are mourning for the capitol and the damage to the democracy. this will be an address that's talking about grief more explicitly than we often do. joe biden knows of grief. >> gloria is with us too, gloria borger. this is going to be an inauguration tomorrow like we have never seen before.
>> no, i think we're starting tonight. tonight is something we've never seen before. i think tonight is in effect about survival of people who have lost and we have lost a lot over the last four years. i think that there is a tone that is being set of quiet, not chaos, but quiet in front of the washington monument with memorials. and don't forget, joe biden is a man of washington. he is a man of the senate. i think he was there for 36 years, evan, correct me if i'm wrong, and he understands it and i think when the capitol was attacked, he felt it viscerally because that's where he lived and those are people that saved him after his wife and young child died and took him under
their wings, said we want you to be senator. don't forget, joe biden was sworn in as a united states senator at his children's bedside after they had survived a car crash in which their mother and baby sister died. that's how he started his career. that's how he overcame his grief. and i think he wants to send that same message to the country which is i did it, i was able to overcome it, but with the help of so many people, and that's what i want to tell you. we can do this together. it is not naive, some may think it is naive, but he is kind of looking for better angels, and if they don't exist, biden will be happy to play hard ball with them, i believe, but he will give it a chance because he knows that everybody kind of has to take a beat. and you know, i was told by
somebody in the biden transition that when people were getting exercised about they're not holding confirmation hearings, slow walking this or that, biden would tell them internally, he would say just slow down, take a breath, take a beat, we'll come back to this in a day. so that's his temperament. and that's his nature. and i think that's what he is telling the country with this memorial you're seeing now, that the country needs to take a beat and breathe. >> and he clearly wants to work with republican leadership in the house and senate, kevin mccarthy, mitch mcconnell. they both will be joining him at church services in washington tomorrow morning. jake, to some it is encouraging, i am sure biden believes he can have bipartisan cooperation and get things done. >> that's right, wolf. and while we're talking now about the more than 400,000
americans who have died because of the covid pandemic, there are families for seven individuals who are now dead after or during the capitol hill terrorist attack. two of them capitol police officers, five others among the insurrectionists. and let's go to cnn senior congressional correspondent manu raju now because manu, we heard the first time today from senate majority leader mitch mcconnell in terms of his view of how the terrorist attack on the capitol happened, who was to blame. >> yeah, he blamed the president. this was the first time we heard the senate majority leader, soon to be minority leader, mitch mcconnell, make that case on the senate floor earlier today. of course, he is a key vote when it comes time for the impeachment trial. he has not said what he will do. we are told by sources who are familiar with his thinking that he does believe the president
committed impeachable offenses, whether he votes to convict donald trump is an open question. when he did speak on the senate floor this afternoon, he made clear who was to blame. >> the mob was fed lies. they were provoked by the president and other powerful people. >> reporter: talking to a number of top republicans today, a lot of them are saying similar things that mcconnell is saying, they're not committing one way or the other how they may come down on the impeachment trial. a lot of top republicans say they want to hear arguments laid out by house democratic impeachment managers, not leaning one way or the other. that's different than last year during the president's first impeachment trial when most republican senators aligned with donald trump. this time, some republicans like john cornyn of texas calls it a vote of conscience when it comes time whether or not to convict donald trump, bar him from ever serving in office again. mcconnell, i am told, wants to
hear arguments before making his case made, and test the mood of the country at a time when it comes time to vote, but still questions tonight when the trial will take place. mcconnell and chuck schumer will be the senate majority leader tomorrow afternoon, officially they sat down today, talked about the upcoming senate schedule, when they can confirm biden nominees on the floor of the senate, when the trial will take place. they're still negotiating a lot of key issues as well as how to structure a power sharing agreement in the 50/50 senate. the big thing dominating the senate the first few weeks will be confirming nominees and deciding whether to convict soon to be former president, donald trump. >> manu raju, thanks so much. we're squeezing in a quick break. stay with us. we have more coverage of the night before the presidency of joe biden begins. ♪ ♪ we made usaa insurance for veterans like martin.
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welcome back to cnn special coverage of the events unfolding in washington surrounding tomorrow's inauguration of joe biden as president, kamala harris as vice president, including tonight's moving tribute to 400,000 americans that died during the covid pandemic. you saw a second ago, maybe we can get a shot back of more than 200,000 american flags on the
mall, and there are hundreds of lights illuminated here in honor and memory of those who have been lost during the pandemic. i want to bring in chief white house correspondent jim acosta. and jim has new reporting about president trump's departure ceremony. earlier today, former white house chief of staff, retired marine general john kelly told me he had been invited, even though he has been rather critical about going, suggesting they're having trouble packing the room. what more can you tell us about the event tomorrow? >> i think that's definitely the case. i talked to an official that said the president may do a flyover on marine one to joint base andrews.
talking to former senior white house officials and advisers, there's a lot of an -- an moss tee. one said he would not be at the ceremony. the official said, is there a disappointment factor, yes. another senior white house adviser said sending the mob was a red line for this adviser. quote, unquote. another white house adviser said he eviscerated his legacy. another one after that said to me, jake, you know, the fact that the president and his team were allowing invitees to bring up to five guests tomorrow smacks of desperation. you talk to former official after former adviser, you get the sense there are a lot of people in trump world not eager to join the president tomorrow, largely because of his actions that led up to the siege on the
capitol january 6th. i talked to another former white house adviser that said this is a president who is like food left over in the refrigerator. it is time to throw him out. they're saying these things privately, jake, but just goes to show you there are deep, deep feelings of animosity directed at the president. mike pence will not be at the departure ceremony. aides close to pence say logistically it is not possible to have the vice president go there for activities. the vice president will be there tomorrow to help joe biden usher in his new administration. make no mistake, you talk to pence advisers, they're still stung by the fact that donald trump did not check on his vice president when he and his family were fleeing protesters on the capitol january 6th, jake. a lot of hard feelings inside trump world tonight.
>> the protesters that were chanting hang mike pence that were mad at pence because president trump had incited them to be mad at his own vice president, jim acosta, thanks so much. and i think, dana, when we think about tomorrow and what tomorrow means, this is not just a transition as we saw between let's say bill clinton and george w. bush. there are tens of millions of americans who voted to reject outgoing president trump who are desperately hoping that joe biden can make things normal again and there won't be the obscenities of a president sicking a rabid mob on legislators and his own vice president. >> absolutely. that's one of the many things that people across this country
are going to be able to say good riddance to, things they couldn't have imagined not that long ago. but donald trump came here saying that he was going to bust norms. having said that, even at his own inauguration four years ago tomorrow he had his rival there with him, somebody who won the popular vote and still lost to him, and she was pretty shell shocked about it, and yet she showed up with her husband, the former president. and that is the tradition that we have seen in our lifetime, certainly in modern times. we haven't not seen a president go and be there to witness his successor sworn in since the 1800s. and you know, it is something that we have all taken for granted, that's just the way it is, that's what's done in america. not until donald trump again in our lifetimes do we realize that
that is a sign of respect for the office and one that he doesn't have. >> but it is funny white house aides seem to be actively trying to finesse his legacy. in the video, we saw president trump talk about he wishes the incoming administration luck. didn't name joe biden, didn't specify what he was talking about. he said i wish them luck. i pray for their success. and it is interesting. that's probably the right sentiment, but in his actions, what he is doing tomorrow by leaving town before participating in the inaugural ceremonies tells you the truth of the story, which is that this is not a president who wants to participate in the handing over of his position to someone else,
whether it is his ego, his self absorption. he will not allow himself to do that one thing. it is so unusual in modern times to see that in our presidents because the example has been set and it has been followed by most american presidents to hand over power peacefully, walk off the stage when your time is up. no matter what he said in the video tonight, he is not doing that. he is actually dropping the ball, walking off the field without shaking hands with the other team. >> one other point which is just you said that president trump doesn't have respect for the office. i think it is beyond that. when you pointed out that hillary clinton attended the trump inaugural four years ago tomorrow, that must have been very difficult, right? it took an incredible strength, resilience. i think that's really what's going on here as much as his lack of respect for the office.
for all his talk of strength, he is not a particularly emotionally strong person. he is pretty fragile. that's one of the things going on. >> that's a very good point. we were talking about the difference in every single way between what the biden incoming administration wants to show about the memory of all those who died from coronavirus and in part they did it by bringing tonight a beautiful rendition of amazing grace, sung by a michigan nurse that performed the song in her hospital's covid unit last year. the video went viral. ♪ amazing grace how sweet the
sound ♪ that saved a wretch like me ♪ i once was lost but now i'm found ♪ ♪ was blind but now i see. >> just beautiful. and joining us now is lori marie key. thank you so much for taking time to be with us. what a beautiful, beautiful rendition, we just played it again. you said when you spoke briefly that you sing at work because it
helps heal. as i mentioned, the world got to know you when you singing "amazing grace" in the hospital went viral back in april. you sang it tonight and you chose a song that means a lot to you. talk about that moment and the song. >> well, first of all, thank you, dana, for allowing me to be here. back in april when covid was at its peak, our unit was transferred over to a covid unit. things were pretty hard. one of my co-workers came to me, asked me to sing "amazing grace" for one of the shift changes. i agreed to it. my co-workers know i am on the unit singing, trying to make sure everybody is having a good time, but none ththeless, this one of the times we needed spirits lifted. i sang the song, would never
imagine it would bring me to this moment. >> i imagine part of this moment, lori, is that you got to honor the people you have been treating day-in and day-out in the covid ward where you work and those who have been suffering across the country. >> yes. it was pretty hard, like i said during that time. i know some hospitals are still struggling with what's going on right now and just thinking back, it was hard trying to say good-bye to patients because families couldn't be allowed in the room, so most times it was nurtsz that were allowing to say final good-bye to families through phones or tablets, and that part was hard as well. >> and did you use song in those moments when because of this
horrible disease, family members couldn't be with their loved ones as they were passing away? was that part of the way that you helped the moment and helped them find some spirituality? >> yeah. most times i usually gave encouraging words. i can count maybe twice where i did sing at the bedside of a patient "amazing grace" and it gave them so much strength. just trying to make it another day. each day at a time through what they were going through. >> talk about what the moment was for you to be where you are tonight in the moment of time right now in history, especially given the fact that you were introduced by a woman who will be the first woman vice president, the first person of
color to be vice president. what was that like? >> it is just an honor to be here in d.c. at this moment, like you said in history. i never thought i would be here. it's an honor to get the chance to see and meet vice president-elect harris which is going to be the first african-american woman as vice president. like i was so humbled. then sticking by the reflection pool, thinking back to years ago, martin luther king gave his i have a dream speech. just seeing how, you know, in my culture, how far we have came and are continuing to progress. you know, i felt proud, felt embraced. i felt loved coming here, meeting everyone. i am blessed and humbled to have this experience. i'm lost for words, those are the best words i can come up
with now. >> you are not at a loss for words, having that presence of mind to think about the history that you were part of, particularly given the spot where you were singing that beautiful song. what was it like meeting and talking to the vice president-elect, kamala harris, what did you say to her, what did she say to you? >> well, it was very brief because the schedule, you know, we have to be on time. so i just gave one of my big hi, and president-elect biden said in heaven it is probably all nurses. i laughed, i know the expression meant in the nursing community, we're compassionate population of people. to hear him say that and talk to me, my heart was filled with just love and i still can't believe that i got to meet the
president. >> i'm sure. and speaking on behalf of people around the country or around the world to say thank you so much for everything you've been doing, everything you've gone through, the way you were trying to bring peace to the people who you were caring for, and you're right, i wrote down that the president-elect said if there are angels in heaven, they're all female and male nurses. so thank you so much for your time. >> yes, that's what he said. >> and your beautiful words. >> thank you so much. thank you. >> thank you. >> wow. she is not just a wonderful singer, she's an incredibly articulate spokesperson for the front line workers who are out there every single day helping people in a way they don't normally have to because their families can't be there. >> it does bring a smile to your
face. she's probably seen so many awful things, held so many hands of patients going through terrible moments in their lives. you see in her some joy and levity. she has a sense of purpose. it really is just a reflection of what's happening at hospitals all across this country. thousands and thousands of nurses and doctors holding up cell phones to patients to say last good-byes to their families, it is extraordinary and inspiring, and also, she's a beautiful singer. amazing singer. it was really wonderful to hear from her. >> let me just say, my mom's a nurse. it is true that they're angels and that they are not as recognized as such too often by our society, but during this crisis it has been absolutely horrible for doctors, nurses, front line health care workers. hopefully they're getting more support now that there's a new
administration. much more to look forward to with the inauguration of joe biden as president and kamala harris as vice president. special coverage continues after this quick break. stay with us. between what is hoped for and what can be, there's a bridge. between endangered and protected, there's a bridge. between chaos and wonder, there's a bridge. there from the beginning to where we stand today. one company. one promise. if you can imagine it, we will build the bridge to get you there. cisco. the bridge to possible.
a beautiful live picture of the reflecting pool here in washington, d.c. welcome back to our special coverage of the truly historic events surrounding tomorrow's inauguration. the historic security is also historic and has turned washington into a fortress capitol, including some 2,500 national guard troops. i want to go to our senior
national security correspondent, alex marquardt. set the scene for us. what's going on right now? >> reporter: well, wolf, it's just about 17 hours time until joe biden becomes president. with each passing moment, the concerns grow about renewed violence, the kind of violence we have seen in the past few weeks. more people coming to d.c. to carry out some kind of violence, so you have this massive security presence out here, but right now, there is no concrete plot that we know of, according to federal authorities. what concerns them is chatter. and one really interesting and potentially dangerous piece of chatter, this is according to "the washington post," that the fbi is picking up on is that followers of the qanon conspiracy theory might try to pose as national guard troops. as you mentioned, there's some 25,000 national guard troops here in the streets of d.c. they have said in an intelligence briefing yesterday according to the post that followers of qanon and other loan wolves might try to come
here to carry out some sort of violence. as you mentioned, so much of the downtown area, the central part of d.c. has become a fortress. we are just on the eastern side of the capitol. you can see that razor wire on top of this 8 foot high nonscaleable fencing as they're call calling it. just beyond that, some of the national guard troops who have come from all over the country, every state, territory, and here in washington, d.c. now, part of that chatter that we were just talking about has also included the downloading and sharing of maps of washington where there might be more sensitive targets. there is a concern that because of this kind of security presence that you're seeing here, national guard, supreme court police, roads being closed down. bridges being closed, that attacks could happen elsewhere in the city, and in other 50 states and state capitols. wolf, as you know, this is the
federal enclave as the mayor of d.c. calls it, and this is over here is capitol hill. this is where some of d.c.'s 700,000 residents live. this is a city that people live in. and people often forget that and so there is a concern. we've heard this from the secret service, from the mayor herself, that because of all of this tight security that anyone who might want to carry out some kind of attack might do so elsewhere in the city, and in other states. the question now, wolf, especially for those of us who live in the city, when do things get back to normal. some of this will disappear following the days follow the inauguration, some of the troops will go home. the mayor has said given this new threat that we have seen, this insidious far right extremist threat that we are living in a new normal, and some of these security measures will have to remain. wolf. >> they certainly will. it is extraordinary situation that has developed in the
nation's capitol. alex, thank you very much. i want to go to cnn national correspondent sara sidner, she actually had a chance to speak to one of the leaders of this group called the oath keepers. tell us about that, sara. >> reporter: it's important because we wanted to find out if some of the information, what they thought happened on january 6th. we know that thomas edward caldwell, a 65-year-old out of clark county, virginia, was arrested and charged with perhaps the most -- the strongest charges we have seen yet that basically he helped conspire to attack the capitol. the authorities said that he was a member of the oath keepers and potentially a leader in that group. now, the oath keepers just for background are an anti-government group particularly anti-federal government. they say they believe the federal government is coming after citizens and stripping them of their rights, and that is why they stand often against the federal government. but in speaking with the leader of the oath keepers, he talked
to us a little bit about the people who have been arrested. there were three people. all of them federal authorities linked to the oath keepers. he has said that thomas e. caldwell is not a member of the oath keepers, nor is he a leader for sure of the oath keepers, not in their data base, for example. he says that jessica watkins, who was also arrested for going inside the capitol on january 6th is, indeed, a member of the oath keepers, and he put it this way. he says, i think that she made a poor judgment. i think she made a mistake. he claims he never tried to get any of his members ginned up to go inside the capitol and quote storm the capitol. he says that he did not do that as the leader of the oath keepers. the last person, donovan kraul who was arrested and linked to the oath keepers is not a member according to him. those are his statements. he also said he didn't believe for the most part the people inside the capitol should be
charged with anything more than trespassing, that this wasn't an insurrection except for those who went into the senate. of course federal authorities may have a very different view, and anyone who has seen some of the videos of people going inside, storming the capitol, have a very different view of what happened there, but those are his comments on the arrests that were made, arrests and charges that were made today. wolf. >> sara sidner in lansing, michigan. we're getting new information about potential pardons by president trump in his final few hours in office. our chief white house correspondent jim acosta is getting the information for us. what are you learning? >> reporter: yeah, wolf, we have been anticipating these pardons to come in, really at any moment. i talked to a white house official just a short while ago who said they literally could come in at any moment. we're standing by for that. i will tell you, wolf, over the last 24 hours, trump allies and associates who have been lobbying this white house for presidential pardons in these final hours of the trump
presidency, they are beginning to hear back from people inside the white house as to whether or not their clients kneamade the . i talked to one of those trump loyalists who was representing a client, seeking a pardon, this particular ally of the president got bad news that his client was not going to make the cut. these notifications are going out to a variety of trump associates, trump loyalists around d.c. you know, keep in mind, we have been reporting on this for several days now along with our white house colleagues that trump lawyers, white house lawyers have been trying to button down this process to make sure the president piece pardon list does not make his final hours in office more notorious than they are right now. but i was talking to this one trump ally earlier today about all of this. it is worth noting that word of potential celebrity pardons coming out in this list, word of that is starting to perturb and annoy some of these trump loyalists who are speaking on behalf of their clients and
trying to obtain pardons on behalf of their clients. and word that potentially, joe exotic, aka tiger king could get a presidential pardon, in the words of this trump loyalist, i'll put this in a quote. these aren't my words, the words of a trump ally, i'll be pissed if this dip shit does make the president's list of pardons and my client doesn't. there are some hard feelings building up as we speak among some of these trump allies and loyalists who have been cashing in, no question about that, they have been cashing in on their access the last several weeks trying to obtain pardons on behalf of their clinents but no all of them will make the cut. >> that's a good point. jim acosta, thank you very much. he's waiting literally until the last couple of hours of his presidency to make an important announcement on pardons and commutations. >> that's not completely without precedent. scope of this might be, the number of them. i remember standing across covering the parade from the clinton white house as the transfer of power to the george
w. bush administration came in the morning, just hours before the inauguration, so we will wait and watch that and again, wolf, we're waiting. this is the last night of the trump presidency, the trump term. the scope of the change, i think, is what is so dramatic. tomorrow we start the 100 day agenda of joe biden. we have to hold him accountable. can he keep his promises, the policy shifts begin tomorrow. tonight what we have seen is the shift in the personal character of our president, the coarseness, the twitter chain saw, the disrespective institutions. that will be gone at noon tomorrow. president-elect biden coming to town, the economy of his words, the priority on healing, the power of those pictures of the lamps honoring those who have died, our friends and neighbors, fellow americans in the covid pandemic. such a dramatic shift. we get the personal shift tonight and the policy comes tomorrow. >> it was a very dramatic difference that we saw tonight as well. 17 hours left. 17 hours left in the trump
administration. 17 hours until joe biden becomes the next president of the united states. we're going to have extensive live coverage all of this unfolding. cnn's special inaugural coverage continues right now with erin burnett. out front next, the final hours of donald trump's presidency, giving a farewell address that rewrites history as joe biden arrives in washington with a powerful message this hour. plus, 12 army national guard members pulled from inauguration duty as qanon members reportedly talked about impersonating national guard members. and new details on the senate impeachment trial, the top senator says the trial would take less than a week. he's my guest, let's go out front. and good evening, i'm erin burnett, outfront tonight, president-elect joe biden just hours away from being sworn in as the 46th president of the united states.