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tv   The Inauguration of Joe Biden  CNN  January 20, 2021 4:00am-7:00am PST

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unprecedented times. >> this is the united states of america. there's not a single thing that's beyond our capacity to do, together! >> we're live at the u.s. capitol, where joe biden and kamala harris will be sworn in in less than five hours from now. as the 46th president of the united states and the first woman and woman of color to be vice president. we want to welcome our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. we're standing by to see president-elect biden for the first time on this momentous day. he's at the presidential guest quarters at blair house where he spent the night. he'll attend a private church service this morning before heading to the capitol, where the new president and vice president will take their oaths,
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just before noon. some traditions continuing, but this inauguration will be unlike any other. instead of the usual crowds, the national mall is filled with flags, representing americans who have come here to celebrate in different, less dangerous times. our correspondents are out in force, covering every moment of this historic day. they're spread out across the u.s. capitol and across the city, including our teams following the enormous and unprecedented security operation underway for this inauguration. lots going on. let's go over to the white house right now. jake tapper is joining us on this truly extraordinary day in the history of our country. >> that's right, wolf. joe biden is about to assume the presidency at a moment of great division pain and tension in this country. the massive military presence here in washington is a stark reminder that it was only two weeks ago when the u.s. capitol
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was under siege and that pro-trump terrorists have threatened new attacks. meantime at the white house, the soon-to-be former president continues to shatter norms. even in his final hours, he's skipping the inauguration, the first president to do that since the 1800s. and soon, donald j. trump will leave the white house for the last time as president. he is, of course, throwing himself a pomp-filled send off at joint base andrews. then we're told he will leave fo for florida. he leaves for florida with enormous baggage, including his toxic lies about the election, the disgrace of a second impeachment, and that bloodshed being done in his name at the capitol. i want to go right now to one of our correspondents -- to three of our correspondents out there. let's start with kaitlan collins, who is covering the biden administration for us. the incoming biden
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administration. and kaitlan, i can't think of a tougher job than anyone in this world has than what faces the soon-to-be 46th president of the united states right now. >> reporter: yeah, jake, i don't think many people could. and joe biden's aides certainly recognized that. they talked about it last night as they were preparing reporters for what day one of a joe biden presidency is going to look like. so donald trump may not be here today, as his successor is being sworn in, given he'll be well on his way to florida by then, maybe in florida by then, but his presence is looming large over not only today, but the entire beginning of the biden presidency. because, basically, what we have heard from biden's top aides is they understand is that they are inheriting several crises that they will have to deal with starting at 12:01 today after joe biden sworn in. so after he's here today, of course, giving one of the biggest speeches of his entire political career that has spanned over three decades, he is going to go to the white house, jake, and he's going to sign over a dozen executive orders orders. of course, a lot of those will
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be aimed at the pandemic. one of them is requiring masks to be worn on federal grounds. that is just a far cry from the day-to-day life that you've seen in the trump administration so far. that is where they're starting. it's going to be a blitz of executive orders starting today, jake. but of course, we are told that is going to be something they are working on doing for the next ten days, at least, to come. and overall, the next four years, really? >> all right, kaitlan collins, thanks so much. we'll come right back to you. let's bring in jeff zeleny. jeff, this is a day of history. it's a moment. and obviously, this is not the kind of inaugural that president-elect biden was hoping for, was anticipating. a capitol under siege. the pandemic continuing to spread out of control. but there is a real plan for the american people today. >> reporter: there's no question that joe biden has been thinking about this office, thinking about the presidency really since he arrived here more than four decades ago. and he did spend 36 years right
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here in the capitol building behind me. it is an entirely different washington that he is returning to there is no doubt about that. but one of the things he is trying to do, as he turns the page is to return to at least a modicum of civility and he is going to start that with the program we are going to see all day long. it was his insistence to have senate republican leaders, soon to be the minority leaders, mitch mcconnell, to join him at mass today. he'll be attending mass and house republican leader, kevin mccarthy, as well as the democratic leaders, as well. that is some of the unity we're going to see. of course, this is a heavy challenge. there's no question that president-elect biden would not have imagined the scenario that he is coming here today. and as you can see, it is a very windy day on the capitol. that wind and windchill will be
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hitting the president-elect directly in the face as he delivers his inaugural address. i'm told it will be about 20 minutes or so. we'll see if he shortens it based on this temperature out there. >> it looks pretty frigid. let's go to cnn's arlette saenz. very moving moment yesterday when president-elect biden said good-bye to delaware and delawarens. he did so at a national guard and reserve base named after his late son, beau, who was a major in the army. and aye got to believe that beau, who the president always thought was a better version of himself, will be foremost on his mind today. >> beau biden will be top of mind for president-elect biden today, as he returns here to the capitol where he served for 36 years to be sworn in as the 46th president of the united states. the capitol is a place that helped drive biden's public life
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after the loss of his wife and daughter. and he spent 36 years up here on capitol hill, walking through these halls. this will be the first time that learns here since that insurrection at the capitol two weeks ago. biden today as he's sworn in will be turning to a family bible. something that's been in the biden family for over 100 years. he's taken every oath of office in his public life on that bible. one piece of the biden family that is notably missing today is beau biden. beau biden was on hand for his father's presidential inaugurations and he'll certainly be top of mind for biden as he takes his oath of office today. >> arlette saenz, thanks so much. and dana and abby, as i think about this day and the history, joe biden has been -- he's wanted to be ft. for decades and part of me would think, he
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wouldn't want to be president under these conditions with the country so divided and the country still dealing with this horrible pandemic, but on the other hand, maybe he would. maybe he acknowledges skpunss that this is a moment for him? >> exactly. there are always discussions about experiences versus new versus change. this is one of the times where joe biden can and did look at the country and say, we need to get somebody into this job who knows what they're doing based on decades of experience and there were so many younger, fresher faces who he beat in the democratic primary process and it's in large part because that is exactly what the country, and at the beginning, of course, the democratic primary electorate and the country at large wanted. they wanted change. can you imagine a more different scenario than going from donald trump to joe biden in our lifetime? >> and first of all, joe biden,
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this is such an improbable story in so many ways, because jake, as you said, he's run for president before. and he has not usually had a particularly good time of it. has not usually gone very far in the process and got, much support. he's been knocked for being a sort of gaffe machine. yet it's in this environment, running against a candidate in donald trump, who many democrats who you talk to would say, especially after their experience in 2016, they believed that trump would be a very, very difficult opponent, it was joe biden after all of this time became the one who ended up winning this election and winning it handedly. it wasn't particularly close. it was not a close election, but you look back and see the poll after poll, talking to voters all across this country, many voters believe that joe biden was the right person with the kind of, whether it's the middle class, working class type of
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ethos who was best to go up against donald trump and it turns out, i guess they were ri right. >> i guess they were right. evan, a lot is being made out of the fact that biden, plekt biden has invited the senate majority leader mitch mcconnell with him to mass this morning. i'm more surprised by the presence of house majority leader kevin mccarthy who just a couple of weeks ago, even after the twirs attack was voting to undo the results of the elec election. it really does say something about how joe biden is a forgiving soul. >> if you go back 48 years when he got into the senate, one of his basic ideas is that you can make deals with democrats and republicans, you can argue fiercely on monday and come up with a deal on tuesday. and in some ways, he carries with him that kind of a senatorial mind-set and he comes into this at a point where we're more divided than we've ever
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been. and we're unrecognizable political culture than the world he started in. and yet he is determined to say that the decency of public service, the thing that drew him to washington so long ago is still viable, still worthwhile, still worth us believing in. and what he's going to do is call on us to be willing to believe in it again. you'll hear about faith and purpose. and for him, oddly enough, this is actually a speech that he probably could have given decades ago, because these are not new ideas for him. >> it's just that now perhaps the president is ready to hear it from him more than they ever were before. wolf? >> it's interesting, the national mall, normally there would be thousands and thousands, maybe tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands people gathering for this inaugurate. not happening today. ryan nobles is over at the national mall for us right now. set the scene. what are you seeing? a lot of american flags,
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obvi obviously. >> that's right, wolf, there are so many differences between this inauguration versus inaugurations in the past, but there may be nothing more different than what we're seeing behind us on the national mall. normally on an inauguration day, this area would be packed with people. tens of thousands of people shoulder to shoulder from the capitol, all the way back to the washington monument. that's not the case today for a variety of reasons. of course, first, there's the coronavirus pandemic, which is limiting the amount of people that can be in a space at a given time. and then, of course, there are security concerns, especially after the insurrection thooms at the capitol behind me on january 6th. as a result, the mall is completely shut down. authorities have said that they don't want anyone in this space, other than credentialed journalists and staff. there's only one entrance in. there's an enormous security perimeter that wraps around the entire mall. and in the place of all of those people that would normally be
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here are these flags. there are some 200,000 flags from the capitol stretching back to the monument. there are many american flags but also flags that represent the 56 different united states and territoryies and they're designed to replace those people who can't physically being here today. representing the millions that will be watching at home. this was done purposefully by the inaugural committee. they want the optionic of the national mall to be spectacular for the millions of people that will be watching at home. and there are expected to be 40-mile-per-hour winds today, so these winds will be flapping all day long. >> it's getting a little chilly, but the sun is beginning to come up, so let's hope it gets a little bit better as the day goes on. ryan, we'll get back to you. thanks very much. john, you and i came over here together up to capitol hill. you don't see a whole lot of tourists or spectators. you see a lot of police and military personnel.
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>> a unique day, but look at the sky behind us, the dome behind us. it's a majestic day. this is always a majestic day, but even more so today because it's such a new day, such a page-turning sky. look at that beautiful sky. today is a testament. you see that monument, you see that dome. today is a testament to the city, to democracy itself. to the lincoln memorial. the system he would up. it was attacked from within by the most powerful man in the world, the president of the united states, who tried to defy the will of the american people, tried to lie about the election. then sent his supporters into that majestic democracy, the shrine of democracy behind us, the capitol dome. the system survived. it's also a testament to resilience. think of all the personal tragedy in joe biden's life. if you think of all the times your parents told you, when you fall down, get up. joe biden is such a living testament to that idea, that you can fail, you can fall down, you can have tragedy in your life, but get up. it's also a testament to respect. joe biden respects the government. joe biden respects people, he
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respects his opponents. that is something that has been sadly missing the last four years in this town. and think about the history that will be made today. not only the inauguration of joe biden, but when he takes his hands off that bible, wolf, he will be the president of the united states. kamala harris will be the first woman vice president of the united states. nancy pelosi is the speaker of the house. if you read the constitution, the president, the vice president, the speaker of the house. those are the three -- the line of secession after the president of the united states. never many american history have we had two women, including a woman of color in such powerful positions. today, in every way is a page turning, from a toxic four years to a new era. we will see, joe biden will be tested. he has an ambitious agenda. we're in the middle of a pandemic. the economy is bleeding jobs. there's a lot of policy changes to talk about. but right now, as you see that sun comes up, it's magical to look at the capitol right now. this is just a page-turning day in american history after four tumultuous and very toxic years. >> the next president of the united states, waking up in blair house, as you and i know, john, right across the street
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from the white house, the official residence for guests at the white house. and it's important to note, first thing he's going to be doing is going to church. there'll be a special church service this morning. he's a very religious man, a man of faith and he deliberately wanted to begin the day going to church. >> we're joined right now by the incoming white house press secretary for the biden administration, jen psaki. jen, thanks so much for joining us and congratulations on this moment. >> thank you, good morning. >> tell us how president-elect biden is feeling heading into this historic day he's spent decades of pursuing, although i can't imagine that he ever anticipated that the challenges would be so daunting. >> you're right, jake. he feels a great deal of gratitude. 81 million americans voted for him in the middle of a pandemic, where millions of people didn't have jobs and went out and still cast their vote.
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but he also feels a great deal of responsibility. and as you've noted and have been talking about this morning, he's walking into this role at a pivotal moment in our history, at a moment that is -- there are multiple crises happening at one time, jake. and i think he is veryize eyes e open to that. he's getting to work quite quickly this afternoon to bring that relief to the american people. but he's feeling a mixture of emotions this morning, i think it's fair to say. >> i don't think the country has been this divided since abraham lincoln took office in 1861 so that poses a whole soeother set challenges for president-elect biden. what other message will he give to the american people today? >> this is a speech, jake, that is not about joe biden, as much as it's about the american people and the importance of resolve in this moment. the importance of and the power
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of people coming together to unify and address the problems that we're facing and we don't expect that people will come together overnight. we know it's a divided country. we've been through quite a few years. but that's the message that he'll be spending and he's hopeful that today will help turn the page and help us move to a more unified approach moving forward. >> president-elect biden will also be taking offices with the nation having reached the horrible landmark yesterday of more than 400,000 americans dead because of the coronavirus outbreak, not to mention the botched vaccine rollout. when do you think the biden administration will be able to get this crisis under some sort of control? >> it's going to take some time, jake. i think what you'll hear from him and what you'll hear from all of us, because he's asked us to be straight with the american people is the facts about the
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data, challenges to getting the pandemic under control. our team is eager to get into agencies and into the white house to really gain a better assessment of how bad things are. but we're also going to be honest about what we're looking at here. and there's a number of steps that he's taking today, a mask mandate, getting the full infrastructure in place to help address this pandemic. but it will take several months before we're really seeing progress. we've set some ambitious goals for the first hundred days, but we're also going to be straight with the american people about how long it's going to take. >> is it fair to say that the coronavirus pandemic is president-elect biden's top priority on day one? >> i think that is absolutely fair to say, jake. as you've covered extensively on cnn, there are so many people, hundreds of thousands of americans, obviously, have lost their lives, but many more
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millions have lost their jobs. and these are two intertwined crises. and every day he's going to wake up thinking about how to address and go to bed thinking about how to address them and will have the same expectation as all of us. so i would expect that coronavirus, getting it under control, addressing it, communicating with the public about it is going to continue to be front and center for him in his agenda. >> president-elect biden is going to mass this morning with not just democratic leader schumer and pelosi, but also with majority leader mitch mcconnell, soon to be minority leader, mitch mcconnell. and even with house leader kevin mccarthy, who even after the terrorist attack two weeks ago, voted to try to overturn the election results. why did president-elect biden invite mccarthy, who up until recently, didn't even view his victory as legitimate and was one of the individuals spreading
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these lies that incited the mob to commit that horrific, dead att attack. >> jake, as you know, the president-elect has not held back in the comments he's made about the horrific events of january 6th. but at the same time, he is now about to take the oath of office to govern not just for the people who elected him, but the people who didn't vote for him, the people who opposed him and who may continue to oppose him now. and his belief is that as a leader, you have to extend a hand, you have to lead my example. and it felt important to him personally to have members of both parties with him this morning and to use that as an example to the american public about ways that we can all come together. and he's hopeful it will be the beginning of a path forward. >> so, president trump is not going to be there to welcome
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president biden when he comes to the white house. he's not going to be at the inaugural. that's the first time that's happened in more than a century. and joe biden going to mention donald trump in his speech today and does he have any message he would want to give trump given that he's not going to have the opportunity to say anything in person? >> well, jake, this is definitely not a speech about donald trump. i wouldn't expect to hear about him in the speech today or that the american people shouldn't expect to hear about him in the speech today. you know, i think we spent a lot less time talking about and thinking about and worrying about donald trump than i think most people assume. this is a forward-looking speech and it's less about any elected official or former elected official than it is about the american people. so he's going to talk about the problems we're facing, the resolve of the public to come tog together, the power of coming together and unifying.
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and that's really central to his inau ninaugural address this morning. >> jen psaki, best of luck to you in your new job and best of luck to the biden administration in this daunting challenge that we have before you. we're standing by to witness the ending of the trump era. president trump leaving the white house soon for the last time as commander in chief. we're getting new information about his exit plan. 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.
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you are looking at live pictures from washington, d.c. on this remarkable day, as we await the historic inauguration of joe biden as the 46th president of the united states. just some two weeks after an attack on our nation's capitol by insurrectionists, encouraged,
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lied to, led by the president of the united states. today, a very different day in washington, d.c. we're keeping an eye on the white house, donald trump will be walking out of the door soon for the last time as president, snubbing his successor and flying to florida in disgrace. cnn's kaitlan collins is live on capitol hill for us this morning. kaitlan, we expect the president to be leaving in the 8:00 hour. >> reporter: yeah, basically, any minute now. and one thing, anderson, that went actually haven't determined yet is whether or not the vice president will stop by the white house before the president is expected to lead to head to joint base andrews for that departure ceremony. because, of course, we know that the vice president is not attending that farewell ceremony, as so many former administration officials aren't. and you're just seeing how isolated the president has been in his last few days, his final few hours in office, because if you go into the west wing, none of the senior staffers are there. they've spent the week cleaning out their offices, turning in their federal government
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devices, sending out their good-bye e-mails, as well, as they prepare to leave office and say good-bye to this administration and move on to the next one. and a lot of that has been kind of a sense of relief for some of those senior aides that served the president, given just how tumultuous the last few months have been, since the election, since the president was spreading those lies. several of his former chiefs of staff were invited to this departure ceremony. of course, the president has either had a falling out with some of them or some of them are not going, just given that this is an early morning departure that the president is having. it's so unusual that he's not coming to this inauguration. and it really is telling of the last few moments of the donald trump presidency and what they've looked like. and that yesterday, instead of really saying these lengthy good-byes and thanking staff, the president was deliberating with aides over whether or not to pardon his former chief strategist. and it is indicative of just the final moments of donald trump's presidency and who has been around him in these last few
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days. >> so, kaitlan, just to be clear, we know mike pence is not going to joint base andrews. is he not at the white house right now to say good-bye to the president? >> we haven't seen his motorcade arrive yet. typically, we know when the vice president gets there. he comes with a pretty big crew in tow. you see him going down the west exec drive there to the right of the west wing. we have not seen that yet this morning, which is notable. because donald trump and the vice president were step in accept with each other for the last several years. but of course, that relationship completely fractured the day of that deadly siege up here on capitol hill, where in the last few moments, in their last conversation, the president called vice president pence a vulgarity before he came up here to do his constitutional duty by, of course, certifying joe biden's win. they did speak after that. it was several days before they actually had a one-on-one conversation, but the only other time we've actually seen the president actually reference the vice president, thank him for his work over the last four
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years was in that recorded farewell address. and we are told the president was actually pretty reluctant to do so. so i think it is telling of someone who was incredibly loyal to the president and how all of that turned around in the final few days in office, because mike pence would not do the president's bidding when it cam to the election. >> yeah. kaitlan collins, thank you. i want to go to cnn's jim acosta, he's at joint base andrews in maryland. jim, the plane is fueled up, ready to go? >> reporter: it is, anderson. and the music is playing line we're at a trump rally right now, so obviously, president trump would not leave any other way. we are getting some more details about what we should expect to see this morning. we do expect the president to make some remarks before hopping on air force one before he heads off to mar-a-lago. in addition to that, he is -- appears to be heading towards getting a 21-gun salute. he'll be greeted ba ed by a col guard and so on. so this is looking like a
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president or a foreign head of state leaving washington. and you know, in a way, because the president is defying these traditions of not being a part of the inauguration of president joe biden, he's almost leaving town like an autocrat, ousted from power, heading off into expile. one thing i can tell you talking to advisers is that the president was hoping to have a big crowd here this morning. i can tell you right now, there isn't any crowd at this point. it's just the media and air force one behind us. of course, there have been people coming, some trump supporters coming in all morning, lining up to be bused in over to this site at joint base andrews. we'll see how big this crowd is. but the area they've set up for at this point, this might be one of the smallest trump rallies you would ever seen during the trump presidency. and so for a president who is obsessed with crowd sizes, this may not be to his liking when he finally gets over here. as to the conversation about pardons and so on, i was talking
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to a trump adviser earlier on this morning. getting back to this discussion about pardoning his former chief strategist steve bannon, i talked to a trump adviser who said that these two men have pachd up their relationship, they've made up, in the wrds of this adviser. and according to this adviser, the outgoing president believes that steve bannon might potentially be of some help to trump later on down the road. there's been some talk that trump might try to make some sort of political comeback in the years to come and trump, i'm told by this adviser, thinks that bannon could help lead that comeback, as far-fetched as that sounds. obviously, with the president so low in the polls right now, that's hardly a foundation for mounting any kind of political comeback, but it just goes to show you some of the delusional thinking that's going on inside the president's mind right now, as he prepares to leave office. and anderson, one thing i can tell you. having been to joint base andrews so many times for these kind of departures. to see a president of the united states leaving office in this fashion, not being a part of the
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tradition of handing off to a successor, being part of a peaceful transfer of power, the keys to the oval office, it's just an extraordinary thing to witness. and a sad thing to witness, as an american. just something that you would never think you would see covering the presidency, but we're going to see it in just a short while from now, anderson. >> they were just placeying "hoe of the rising sun." the sun is setting on president trump right now. what happens he actually gets there? if you could tell us -- i assume the people that are going to be there are not there yet. what happens when he gets there? >> reporter: when he gets here, we expect a military band to play "hail to the chief." we expect a color guard to greet him. many of those assets are already here. they're going to have a 21-gun salute. and then the president is expected to make some final remarks. and so these should be the final remarks that we'll hear from outgoing president trump during this presidency, unless he somehow talks to us on air force one or makes remarks down in
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florida when he arrives in west palm beach. this should be the last time we hear from president trump as commander in chief, as president of the united states. obviously, talking to aides and advisers, he wants to tout what he sees as his accomplishments and achievements from his last four years in office. but hanging over everything, anderson, is obviously the events that happened on january 6th. and, you know, when you talk about some of these people, these trump supporters who are coming here, these are going to be die-hard kool-aid drinkers. you know, i talked to so many advisers, former officials and so on over the last day or so who have said, they don't want any part of this departure ceremony. they are disappointed. they are disgusted with this president because of the incitement of the riot that took place on january 6th. anderson, it is going to be quite a scene. we'll be watching it. we'll see how enthusiastic this crowd is. it may -- it may feel more like a funeral than a departure ceremony. >> and jim, you're actually going to be flying to florida on air force one with the
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president? >> reporter: i am scheduled to at this point, anderson. we'll see if they let me on the plane. i'm a little concerned that midflight they may hand me a parachute and say "good luck." but at this point, anderson, yes, that's the plane. >> wow. jim, i appreciate it. we'll be checking in with you throughout the day. the music they're playing, it's classic. let's bring in presidential historian, douglas brinkley, timothy naftali. tim, you wrote a piece from the atlantic that came out yesterday entitled, the worst president in history. is that how this president is going to be remembered. >> well, you know, historians don't always agree. but for me, he crossed the rubicon into the bottom of the basement, if you will. with january 6th. the fact that he was, is the first president in our history
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to oppose a peaceful transfer of power puts him in a very special category. the fact that he has shown dereliction of duty with regard to the pandemic and of course, the reasons for his first impeachment, which had to do with really subverting u.s. foreign policy for his own political purposes, so for those reasons, i argue that he has surpassed an awfulness, presidents pierce, buchanan, johnson and richard nixon. >> doug brinkley, do you agree? >> yeah, i do agree with that. i think thehe is the bottom of barrel of american presidents. he will be known for the trump insurrection. he will be known for claiming that he was a wartime commander in chief when the covid-19 virus hit america and we had a pandemic and he really did nothing. he had a very fickle policy. one day wear a mask, one day, not.
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missed explaining what bleach was to put into your body and then, you know, attacking dr. fauci one moment and then the next moment, not. holding a rally in tulsa when it was a horrible idea over the summer and people died from covid. so when we look at the death toll as it grows every day, you feel that donald trump is implicated in that death toll. and that's a big stone hanging around donald trump's neck. add to that the two impeachments and the very simple fact that the economy's worse off than when he came in and that america is more disunited. in my mind, puts him at the rank bottom, which is good news for james buchanan and franklin pierce, but it wasn't good for our country the last four years. >> doug brinkley, you know, despite the fact that this president attempted to turn the election into what he said was a
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massive fraud, the election was really extraordinary. just the number of americans who decided to come out in person, vote from home, however they did it, but decided to cast a vote in the muidst of a pandemic, overwhelming support frankly for both candidates. president trump received a huge amount of votes. president-elect biden received more votes. some 81 million votes. this is a day, really, of celebration. yes, the president of the united states, who is about to be the former president of the united states, tried to turn it into something else. but really, america came out and voted and expressed their wishes and we are seeing the results of that. we are seeing a peaceful transfer of power, despite what this president has attempted to do. >> i'm so glad you phrased it that way, anderson. it is a great triumph, the 2020 election. the fact that people mailed in
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votes. the people that waited in line six feet apart wearing a mask. people handing out water and snacks to people waiting in lines, that we hit a record number in american history. that joe biden is being sworn in today and kamala harris with 80 million people backing their action. it's really quite amazing. and you know, we think about the character of joe biden and how this is probably the right time for a man of his character. you know, leon panetta once said that he was overhearing a phone call that joe biden was on, and he couldn't tell whether he was talking to the head of a country or whether he was talking to a regular, everyday person. and that's -- there's an authentic, everydayness to joe biden that people really appreciate. he is lunch bucket joe, delaware joe. >> tim naftali, thanks very much. wolf, president-elect biden has already set a very different tone. yesterday, he and vice
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president-elect kamala harris going to near the lincoln memorial to remember the 400,000 lives lost so far in the pandemic. >> yeah, it was a really, really moving moment, the day before, what is today, history, the inauguration. the sun is rising, anderson, here. it's a new day here in washington. we're only minutes away from seeing donald trump leave the white house for the last time, as the president of the united states. will there be any final surprises? much more of our special coverage right after this.
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we're live here in washington, as one of the most important rituals in american democracy is about to unfold with the inauguration of president joe biden. but first, we'll see the current president exit the white house momentarily, defying democratic traditionss until the very, ver end. jamie gangel is joining us right now. jamie, what are you learning right now about the republicans, how they're seeing this unfold, because this is an extraordinary moment. >> wolf, i think that we're seeing here is the question of where does the republican party go now? this is really a moment of truth for them. you may remember that jared kushner told bob woodward, quite bluntly, that donald trump had hijacked the republican party. the question is, is the republican party ready to cut?
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what are those senate republicans going to do? how many of them, if any, will vote to convict? and i think the other thing we have to remember is, we've talked a lot about, this morning, about joe biden bringing the country together. several republicans have said to me, in the past few days, it's their responsibility, as well. they need to make a cut with donald trump and leave behind some of the ugliness that came along with him that we saw on january 6th. >> we're looking at live pictures from capitol hill. you can see the social distancing that is already being planned, given the fact that this covid pandemic continues, full speed ahead. jamie, stand by. our senior white house correspondent, pamela brown is with us, as well. pamela, tell us what you're learning, because there's some
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significant developments. >> one thing we have been keeping an eye on, wolf, is what vice president pence will do. we know that he is attending the inauguration today. something that the president is not doing and we know that he's not supposed to go to the president's farewell, but there was a question of whether he would say good-bye to the president at the white house this morning. and up-to-the-there is no indication that is happening. the two men have a fractured relationship, as they depart this administration. and you've seen pence really step into the role, recently, of president, essentially. he will be the one at the inauguration today. there will be a moment after the ceremony when the incoming second family, kamala harris, and her husband, walk the pences to the motorcade. that is per tradition, but it's also notable, because we will not see the moment of the trumps and the bidens going to marine one. and so that is all under this context, with the understanding, too, that the president is
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leaving the white house today, under the cloud of the january 6th riots. he, as you know, released pardons overnight. the pardon list looks very different because of the riot, i'm told, by sources. there were many people he wanted to pardon, and that changed including his personal attorney, rudy giuliani, his kids, himself, because of the riot, because of the concerns of that. however, he did take the step to pardon his former adviser, steve bannon. that is controversial, given steve bannon's rhetoric around the riot. but that this is something that the president wanted to do. they had patched up their relationship and the president in these last-minute frantic meetings at the white house wanted to take that last step. >> he certainly did, late last night. overnight, that's what he did. k k kate bennett is also watching all of this unfold. kate, you're getting some new information about the now outgoing first lady, melania trump. what are you learning? >> reporter: that's right, wolf. we haven't seen the first lady in public. today will be the first time we're seeing her in public since
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december 31st. it's been quite some time. we saw her on video saying good-bye. this is a first lady that sources tell me that have checked out, that just wants to go home. and i've learned that -- sources tell me that she has outshoourc her "thank you" notes to the residence staff, which is very unthor unorthodox. the resident staff are people who care for the first lady, the president, their family. these are butlers, housekeepers, ushers, people who clean up after them, who cook for them, who help them around this giant white house residence that they're leaving. and a lower level staffer in the east wing actually wrote the "thank you" notes, she signed her name to them and most of the staff thought they were coming from the first lady herself. this is just another indicator of a first lady and the president who have simply hunk do ered down in the white house. it took melania five days to
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acknowledge the insurrection on capitol hill. so certainly as they gear up to leave today, this is going to be a final good-bye and yet at the same time, it feels very much as though, at least the first lady, the east wing is empty. she has long checked out and long sent her boxes and storage down to mar-a-lago. i'm sorry, i'm hearing helicopters, we're here in front of the white house, waiting to see the arrival of marine one that will pick up the president and first lady and will bring them the joint base andrews. >>thal be landing on the south lawn of the white house and as they get ready to fly down to palm beach. it's so awkward for those of white house have covered inaugurations over the years. it's so uk ward that this president is getting out of town and refusing to even participate in this peaceful, democratic transfer of power. >> you're being polite because
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you're such a gracious man. it's reprehensible. he has not called joe biden. joe biden won the election. he won the election. donald trump had every right to challenge it. to ask for recounts, to go to court. he did that. and more than 60 times, judges, including judges he appointed told him to go away. you have no evidence. he does not have the grace to call the president-elect. he was not. we'll see if it happens. he's not planning to adhere to the tradition of leaving a note. maybe part of this is the covid era, but no meeting at the white house, nothing to show respect for the office and respect for the democracy. it's more than awkward. it's reprehensible. but it's a testament to what we have seen for four years. this has been the grievance, grievance presidency every day. it's the mexicans' fault, black people's fight, rinos fault, meaning republicans in name only. it's mike pence's fault that he
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wouldn't stand up for the president in the capitol building. president trump always blamed somebody else which is part of the turning of the page we'll see. joe biden's personal tragedy to become president now after a life of personal tragedy and political tragedy to come to the white house at this moment is such a turning of the page. he lost two elections for the presidency. his wife and daughter were killed in a tragic car accident. after his first campaign for the presidency, joe biden had a brain aneurysm and many thought he wouldn't survive that. he comes back and goes to work. departure of the grievances. when that plane leaves joint base andrews it takes four years of politics away from washington and leads to a different era. joe biden has many different challenges. he'll not be perfect as a president but the page turning today and getting rid of every morning reading the tweets to find out it's somebody else's fault, that will be welcome. >> this should marine one. this is the chopper that is going to land on the south lawn
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of the white house and take the president and the first lady over from the south lawn of the white house, about a ten-minute flight over to joint base andrews outside of washington, d.c., in maryland. it's a short flight. we'll see momentarily, john, we're told, the president will be leaving the white house heading out to the south lawn. we'll see if he stops and talks to reporters. sometimes he does. usually in the last several weeks he doesn't. but this will be the last time he'll board marine one. and we'll see him get on that helicopter and head out. the last time we'll see him as president of the united states board marine one. remember when the historic moment when we saw nixon board marine one for the last time after he resigned as president of the united states. >> and again, though, it gets to the who is donald trump, nand what has he represented. normally that helicopter would be behind us. it would park at the capitol and
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the president of the united states would attend the inauguration of his successor, then the two of them would walk down the stairs, the former president and new president and you could get in marine one and fly to joint base andrews to say good-bye. we're told that donald trump did not want to get on marine one when it was called special operations one. it's not marine one or air force one if you're not the president. it was so important to him to have that one last time. he will get it one last time and this is always -- we covered the white house for a long time. this is always majestic. this is supposed to be this ceremonial day where, whether it's a democrat or republican being sworn in, whether it's a democrat or republican leaving the white house, where we celebrate and we have these amazing pictures and amazing rituals to celebrate a democracy. we will today because the system survived an attack from the man who lives in that house right now. the man who is leaving that house in just moments which is part of the remarkable splendor of this day. but president trump will be leaving. you see a small audience there.
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my bet is he'll not stop and talk to reporters today. in one way, that was one good, if you will, of his presidency, that he was so accessible, but in the end, we are told he is angry, sullen, sulking. and he's trying to blame other people. he lost an election. he got 74 million votes and lost an election. that's called math and democracy. and there's marine one which will carry him away from the white house. >> on the left you can see a pool of reporters. a bunch of reporters standing by. they'll be shout something questions as the president and the first lady walk out and head over to marine one. i suspect he will not stop. we do expect, though, when he gets to joint base andrews at this little farewell ceremony he's organized, we do expect to hear from him there? >> we do. jim acosta was there. said the president plans to give some remarks. outside of tradition. maybe he might have a news conference in his final days or sit in the oval office and do a live address to the american people.
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this president taped an address in which he did not speak joe biden's name, so we'll watch as this plays out and as he goes away. one of the reasons he won't want to stop and talk today is because he'll be asked not only did he pardon a number of people last night who you'd have to define as influence-peddling swamp creatures. a signature promise was to drain the swamp. the pardons last night included a number of swamp creatures, people who traded in access and influence. and he also rescinded -- when donald trump became president, this is the fraud of this administration, wolf. he lies repeatedly to his own supporters. lying to your own people. he said he was going to drain the swamp. last night rerescinded the executive order preventing lobbying by former trump administration officials. he's taking it away as he leaves. again, he's taking with him also a pot of a couple hundred million that he raised from his own supporters saying that money was to contest the election when
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if you read the fine print, a lot of it went off into a post-presidency political fund he can use as he tries -- and this will be the defining test. as he tries to continue to exert his influence over the republican party as he leaves. >> it doesn't look as if the vice president mike pence has come over to the white house to say good-bye to the president. he's going to be at the inauguration. he's going to be at the swearing in ceremony for the new president of the united states, but it doesn't look like he's there and doesn't appear that he's going to go over to joint base andrews to say good-bye either. this relationship has really been strained over these past several weeks. >> four years of near total loyalty from the vice president of the united states. and what did he get? two weeks ago today, the president of the united states told his supporters to attack the building that is behind us. he told them to march on the building behind us. i want to be fair to the president. he said you cannot be weak. you must be strong.
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you have to stand up to the weak congresspeople. he mentioned his vice president, his loyal vice president at that rally and his supporters went into the united states capitol, some of them chanting, hang mike pence. you cannot blame the vice president for the fact this relationship has fractured, and even in the final days we're told the president has repeatedly told the few people left who support his grievances and his lies that he thinks mike pence could have done more. mike pence followed the constitution. mike pence respected the will of the american people. and so the relationship is fractured. and i know that the biden team is actually grateful. a lot of democrats who have no love lost for mike pence because he served at the side of president trump, but they are grateful that vice president mike pence and karen pence are coming to the inauguration. >> looks like they're take something time out. this is staff members taking some boxes out. i assume to marine one, to take
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over to joint base andrews with the president and the first lady. jamie gangel is watching all of this. what else are you learning as we await the president and the first lady to walk out of the south -- onto the south lawn, board marine one for that brief ten-minute flight to joint base andrews? >> you know, wolf, as we're watching this, i'm old enough to remember when president nixon resigned and left in disgrace. and i just went back and took a look at the final days of richard nixon because now we have another president. he has not resigned but he is leaving in disgrace. and if you think about the fact that donald trump has never conceded, i just want to read you three lines from what richard nixon said at the end. he said in his last speech that the interest of the nation must always come before any personal
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considerations. i must put the interest of america first. and by taking this action, i hope that i will hasten the start of the process of healing. even in comparison to richard nixon, donald trump simply could not rise to the occasion and i'm also told by a source familiar with president-elect biden's speech that he will not be mentioning donald trump by name. wolf? >> you know, it's really crazy when you think about this, jamie, that the president, since november 3rd, since november 3rd, when the election took place and a few days later all of a sudden, everybody projected that biden was the winner, i don't think, john, maybe you remember better than i do, i don't think we've heard trump mention the name biden even once during all of these weeks. >> no, we have not.
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and again, this is a nation founded on the rule of law. the president had every right to be upset he lost and every legal right as he did to ask for recounts in georgia. three times. three times they counted the votes in just that one state gafof georgia. three times joe biden was the winner in the recount and yet he called the republican secretary of state after all of that and said i need you to find me 11,700-plus votes. enough votes to win. he called other officials as well. he sent people into court where judges turned it away time after time after time. you can give some period of time, let the president run his legal recourses. then there were two months where he lied to the american people. lied to his own supporters saying that he had won in a landslide. never picked up the phone to joe biden. there were some hiccups in the transition. we should thank the career people in government and some of the trump appointees who decided in the end they needed to start cooperating with the biden team on the transition. but i don't know the words for
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it. i'll use rude. it certainly is outside of tradition. but the fact that the president of the united states refused to accept the results of the election after they were recounted, after every state certified them, after a number of republican states, arizona is an all-republican state. georgia is an all-republican state. the president lost the election. and to this day he refuses to accept that with respect and decency and to extend his hand to the new president of the united states. >> it's been 152 years since a president of the united states refused to attend the inauguration of his successor. pamela brown, i understand you're getting new information on the vice president, mike pence. >> that's right. i just spoke to a source close to pence who says he is not expected to be there, to say his final good-bye to president trump at the white house today. i'm told by this source that he had said his final good-bye yesterday, but you do have to wonder, given what john just
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laid out if pence would be there this morning, had there not been this falling out over the election and the president's push to overturn the election results and have his own vice president do so. as we know the president called pence a vulgarity. his supporters threatened pence because he would not overthrow the election results, which he is not able to do. and just because he was following the constitution. and so as the president departs today, this morning, it is notable that pence is not there and as we have seen pence has really been filling the role as president in recent days. one of the questions is, did pence leave a letter for kamala harris. we know he's called her. did he leave a letter for her or biden? there had been discussion of the president leaving a letter for biden. did that happen? there's still some questions as the president departs the white house for a final time this morning. >> plenty of questions out there that will be interesting to get all of the answers as we await. this is momentarily, we're told,
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the president and first lady will be walking out that door on the south lawn of the white house, board marine one and make that brief flight over to joint base andrews. there will be a little ceremony, good-bye ceremony for the president at that point. then he's out. he will land in palm beach, in west palm beach before the inauguration. the swearing some ceremony behind us up on capitol hill. we're watching all of this unfold. anderson? >> van jones, as we watch this and wait for the president, i am wondering how many of us kind of realize the degree to which this changes -- kind of the import of this change. i mean, to not have president trump, the name trump in our heads 24 hours a day is going to be a big adjustment, and something i think a lot of people in this country welcome. >> i think that's right. right now you have, i don't know, 10 million, 20 million, 30 million people holding their
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breath. just holding their breath looking at this. i think when that sigh of relief comes out, it's going to be audible around the world. and the sad part about it is, you have, you know -- this is how you don't do it, kids at home. this sore loser send-off which puts your own ego and your own hurt feelings above the team, above the community, above everybody else. this is how you don't do it. and what you're going to see is -- you've seen the collapse of an icon. used to be like, be like trump, be rich. now the word trump is going to mean sore loser. don't be a trump. the renewal, the restoration of that white house as a citadel of democracy and civility and decency. civility is key to civilization. it's not optional. and you're going to have that restored today. but this is -- young people, this is not the way to do it. >> on the right-hand side of the
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screen is blair house where president-elect biden and dr. jill biden have spent the night. david axelrod? >> you know, just a little bit earlier, john king was talking about the election and said it's math. it's math. biden got more votes. that's how democracy works. but in the perverse calculation of donald trump there's only division and subtraction. we've lived in this heightened state of agitation for four years. we've gotten a sense of what life is like just with his absence from social media which has stirred this country and the world for four years. and led to some of the events we saw, tragic events in washington on january 6th. this is really a huge thing. let me just say from a standpoint and van can speak of this, someone who served in that building, there has been a sense that, not because of his views but because of the way he's governed, that that sacred
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building has been defiled for the last four years. every time i walked into that white house, i felt a sense of awe and responsibility. and i think most people, republicans and democrats who served there, felt the same way. and to see it defiled the way it's been has been really heartbreaking. and so as van says, there's a -- that sense of relief today as well. >> gloria? >> it's not only a sense of defiling, but we have watched so many norms be broken that americans respect. and there's a sense that maybe that will be restored because this president-elect, to be president very soon, is all about those norms. and another thing, a sense of optimism that we have not had in this country because we have gone through so much and because we have had a president who is all about grievance and vengeance. >> let's go back to jake. >> thanks, anderson.
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as we watch president trump's helicopter, it's interesting. he really is doing everything he can that's wrong. it's like as i think van was just saying, this is a textbook case of how not to leave the presidency. whine, cry, pretend you didn't win, incite your supporters, stage an insurrection. and on his way out the door, he pardons a bunch of his cronies. elliott broidy, steve bannon. an ethics group put out a statement saying even nixon didn't pardon his cronies on the way out the door. i mean, really, you think he couldn't get any more disgraceful. well, just give him a few hours. >> and this was just the last set of pardons. he's already issued some pretty horrendous pardons for the people we've coverd who have done some pretty bad things. been convicted of doing some
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pretty bad things in donald trump's name. right now what i'm definitely sensing and i'm sure you are, too, sitting above this city is a palpable sense of sort of suspended animation. that we know this is going to happen intellectually. we see that helicopter on the white house lawn. he's going to get it it for the last time but there's been such desire by more than half of the country in a very passionate, activist way to see this man go and now they are watching their television screens waiting, holding their breath for it to happen. and i have -- we have never covered anything like this. certainly people have been disappointed or excited, but nothing like this. it is in people's constitution,
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small "c," about how they feel about it. >> it's sometimes hard to remember, but the truth is, four years ago, a majority of americans voted against donald trump, and they've been governed by this president for four years. and another majority of americans voted to vote him out of office, and he rejected their decision for months and months leading up until this point. but i do think we should remind people of what normal means when we say this is not what it's supposed to be like. we don't know if president trump is going to write a note to his successor, but the note that he received when he came into the white house said, you know, regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it is up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them. george h.w. bush wrote to bill clinton, you will be our
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president when you read this note. i wish you well. i wish your family well. your success is now our country's success. this is a president who in everything that he does and says rejects that kind of notion that it's not about who is in the presidency. it's about what is good for the country. welsee him today kind of giving himself a big party at the end, even though as jamie noted, he's leaving this office in disgrace. >> complete disgrace. and we should note, gllet's go kaitlan collins. the reason the president is doing it the way he's doing it is because, a, he doesn't have the strength of character to attend the inauguration of the person who beat him, but, two, he wants to get down to florida before he is no longer president because he doesn't want to be on a private plane. he wants to be on air force one. but he's running behind schedule. >> he is. he was to leave the white house about ten minutes ago.
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obviously, you can see there he has not walked out of the residence side of the white house. that's where he's coming from, not the oval office where you sometimes see the president depart. we're being told by white house officials he's running about a half an hour behind. so that gives you an indication of what's happening inside the residence of the white house as the president is prepared to leave. one thing that we did learn, jake, we do know the president is going to speak at joint base andrews. notably, it's going to be without a teleprompter. we've seen what that means between teleprompter trump and when trump is off the cuff. his own aides sometimes sigh over remarks they've written and prepared for the president. he goes off script. we're now being told he's not going to have a script as he's making these remarks. this may mirror more closely with how the president feels leaving office than that taped farewell address that he did the other day. but i also want to note, if you are looking there at the south lawn of the white house on the left side of the screen you see those reporters waiting for the president to come out. typically on the right side are
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a lot of guests waiting for the president. any mundane departure, you can still see dozens of guests or white house staffers waiting to see the president off. notably, they're not there. i'm assuming some of them are at joint base andrews. but none here as to what the president typically sees. lately he's been leaving the white house. he doesn't often take our questions anymore. he'd go over and greet the guests. instead we saw a few aides go and board marine one with some boxes and louis vuitton luggage, which we assume is the first lady's. he'll be speaking when he leaves joint base andrews. >> the fact that he's ad libbing a speech is not good news for the country, if i may observe. john harwood, one of the biggest frauds of this presidency has been the idea that he's draining the swamp as he promised would
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happen in 2016. obviously, the swamp has only accumulated more alligators and critters since he came here. i'm looking at the list of people he pardoned. a lot of financial crimes. a lot of rich people, well connected people. here it is. here is president trump. so hold on. let's take in this moment. president trump and first lady melania trump saying good-bye. is that the press they're talking to, talking to reporters? we will get the tape of what he is telling the press in a few minutes. it's called what's taped turn. it's not being fed in live. when we get that, we will bring that to you. it is the arrangement.
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it's a stunning moment, dana. the disgraced 45th president of the united states and first lady melania trump walking to marine one for their last ride on marine one ever. that will take them to joint base andrews where the president will give an ad libbed speech. one can only imagine what he will say, and then they'll fly to florida, dana. >> he looks small. he just looks like a small man. and that is exactly the way that he has handled his presidency since he lost. and he just has appeared smaller and smaller. and less and less courageous. and it does take courage. it takes fortitude. it takes a sense of self to be able to not do this. to be able to get into the motorcade with your successor. to take that ride which we have
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seen and heard in so many history books. there are conversations that happen that are snapshots, that are legacy moments. that is not happening. >> they ride in -- they used to ride in the same motorcade. literally. donald trump and barack obama, the man who he said wasn't born in the united states, sat in a car together four years ago. but i am watching this scene, seeing, you can see at the south portico there of the white house, the president being saluted as he was walking out. he's now in marine one. you're just reminded, he loves this part of the job. this part of the job where he is saluted, where thee is -- has the red carpet rolled out for him, where he gets to board marine one. that is what he loves so much about the job. not so much, it seems, the other parts of the job which he has by all accounts and all reporting,
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really not been doing since at least election day. really neglecting so much of the hard work of the presidency, but always wanting to have these moments where he's being treated with deference and being treated with the pomp and circumstance of the job. that's what this is all about. even though there is so much grandeur to what usually happens at the capitol with the outgoing president and the incoming president and it is sad that we will be missing that today. >> marine one, the -- preparing to take off. president trump, outgoing president trump and first lady melania trump aboard. the helicopter will take the first couple to joint base andrews where president trump will deliver his final address as president of the united states. we are told that it will be an ad libbed speech. it's truly an historic moment. there are tens of millions of
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americans who are upset that donald trump will no longer be president. and tens of millions of americans more who are relieved and this moment could not have come quickly enough for them. >> yep. >> a disgraced former president. we have not seen an incumbent president be defeated since george h.w. bush. but george h.w. bush carried himself with class and dignity. he was welcoming to bill clinton. they became friends. van jones, as a former white house employee, this is not a fun moment for a white house employee to see their former boss be defeated. but then again, there are a lot of white house employees who are very distressed with the ugliness that donald trump has wreaked on the country, just since he lost. >> yeah, well, a lot of former white house staffers, i think a lot of human beings. people who have functioning brain stems and beating hearts
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to watch what's happened to the country. as you watch this thing lift off and go away, you have to imagine for muslim families who had a bull's-eye on their back and, you know, women who were afraid to work a job because people who said people who pray like you. a repudiation. a complete repudiation of that approach. the house, the senate and the white house given to a party that sees them as human beings. you think about all the immigrant families. the babies snatched away at the borders. we still don't know what's going to happen to those babies. it's a moment of relief for a lot of people. >> wolf blitzer? >> yeah, this is a brief flight. this marine one chopper flight from the south lawn of the white house over to the joint base
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andrews. but this is a moment that, john king, this is a moment in history. the last time this president will be aboard marine one. the last time he will board air force one. he will have a little bit -- he'll have a little bit of a speech, i suspect. it looks like a tiny little crowd has gathered at joint base andrews. he's going to take a little tour over the city before he heads over to joint base andrews. >> one last look down at washington. remember four years ago the question was, would the disruption of donald trump change washington for the better? would it break the paralyzed politics? that was the conversation four years ago on this day. it is clear that disruption of donald trump made washington more divided. it included in the end a violent attack on the united states government by his supporters two weeks ago today. i believe that's the president's hotel, the building you just saw the helicopter pass behind it. not far from the white house.
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and now he's behind us about to pass the capitol building where in under four hours, joe biden will put his hand on a bible and become the president of the united states. you saw there the helicopter marine one passing by the capitol dome. it's just hard to fathom. it was two weeks ago today that supporters of this president, carrying his flag and wearing his hat and wearing other hateful, hateful messages on their clothing stormed that building. stormed that building because they believe the president's lies. that's not excusing their conduct. dozens of them have been arrested and will face the authorities, but that is the final legacy of donald trump. he challenged the very system that made him plt four years ago. he tried to ignore and defy in the end. and the system survived that. and today joe biden, a person who respects the office and respects democracy, respects tradition will become the president. >> yeah, he's flying over
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washington, d.c., right now heading toward joint base andrews. a brief little flight. looked like they wanted to do a little circle over the u.s. capitol as -- and we could hear the marine one flying just over our heads not too far away at all. but should be landing joint base andrews. what a difference four years makes. he had a very impressive, huge crowd at his inauguration. it's going to be a little pathetic, tiny crowd at joint base andrews where he'll say good-bye. >> as we watch this circling over the capitol a little bit to give the president and first lady one last look and, again, when he gets off the helicopter, he'll not ride it again as president unless he tries a comeback in four years. i'm sure he wants to savor this moment. he's entitled to that. on his way to joint base andrews and then to florida. >> kaitlan collins is watching all of this. you're getting more information. what else are you learning? >> we're watching marine one right now taking one final trip
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over washington with president trump and the first lady on board. barron trump is already there. he's not on marine one. it's flying just past the washington monument. they just flew over the capitol where these preparations are under way for joe biden's inauguration. at any moment now, in the next few hours, the inauguration that the president will not be attending but apparently wanted to see. and now you can see they just hung a left past the washington monument. they now appear to be en route to joint base andrews. it's notable the president took one last circle over washington. that's typically what the outgoing president and first lady do after their successors are sworn in here at the capitol. they get on marine one and then they are taken to joint base andrews where they typically would take a government plane to their next destination. of course, that is florida. but we are told by sources the president did not want to have to ask the bidens for use of a government plane. he wanted to not leave washington as an ex-president.
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he is still leaving washington as the current president on air force one. so that played a factor into this decision to break tradition and be the first president in over 150 years not to attend inauguration, but clearly he wanted to get a look at what the preparations are under way on the capitol, wolf. >> pamela brown getting more information as well. what else are you learning? >> it's been 150 years since a president did not attend the inauguration of the incoming president. but as much as the president is breaking tradition, his final hours in the white house were very much in tradition with what you see in presidents in their final hours and that was working on pardons. i'm told by a source close to the white house he was in the white house, working on the pardons with his daughter ivanka by his side who has been very involved in the criminal justice reforms in recent days. and he signed the paperwork, the final paperwork just before midnight. his daughter ivanka i'm told
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left around 10:00 and was making calls until 2:00 am to some of the families impacted by the pardons of criminal justice reform pardons, but i'm told by sources as the president leaves the white house today that in some ways, he's also relieved to be leaving behind the pressure of the presidency. but it is notable that he is leaving behind the white house with much fewer people standing by his side in the wake of the january 6th riots. on air force one this morning, he will be surrounded mainly by staffers i'm told. mainly by people staffing him there in florida. he'll not be with his daughter ivanka and son-in-law jared kushner as of now on air force one. >> stand by. jeremy diamond is at the white house for us. jeremy, when the president and first lady walked out onto the south lawn to board marine one, he stopped briefly and spoke to reporters, a pool of reporters who were waiting there. you've got some information on what he said? >> yeah, that's right, wolf. i was on the south lawn of the
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white house for the president's final departure on marine one. and the president stopped briefly just a few feet from the cameras, from the assembled reporters. and you could tell he was trying to take in this moment and instead of doing what he usually does, which is field a series of questions, make a series of controversial statements, the president paused briefly and said, thank you. he said it's been a great honor to be president. and he said good-bye to the press or presumably to the american people. it wasn't clear exactly whom he was addressing. but he said he hoped that it would not be a long good-bye, which perhaps hints at the president's post presidency to remain relevant, remain in the news. i did try and shout a few questions at the president, wolf. ip asked the president if he had any regrets from his time in office that have been so tumultuous and controversial and capped off by the president's inciting that mob that stormed
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capitol hill just two weeks ago today. the president did not answer the que question. he walked alongside melania trump over to marine one and that's where you saw the president stop on the steps of marine one before boarding. he turned around and waved. that's something we typically see the president do on air force one but not on the steps of marine one. it was notable because it seemed the president was trying to take this in and say one final good-bye here, wolf. then the president was off and circling washington. >> we're going to get the tape of what he was saying. it's a little weird when he said it's not going to be a long good-bye. not clear what he had in mind about that. jim acosta is at joint base andrews, one of the pool reporters. he's scheduled to fly on air force one to west palm beach. jim, give us a sense of what you're learning over there.
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>> wolf, that's right. we can see the gathered guests right now for this departure ceremony. i've got to tell you, the president is not going to be happy with the crowd size. i'm seeing maybe 200 gathered guests. the president's adult children, the staff mark meadows, his adviser and other figures are gathered in this crowd as well. when the president lands, he'll be greeted by a military band. as you can hear blaring over the loud speakers here, the rally music is playing. he's going to get the sense of a rally. marine one is landing right now on the tarmac at joint base andrews right behind air force one. so we'll see the president departing from joint base andrews shortly. we do expect him to make brief remarks. they have a podium set up. a lectern set up.
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but there are no teleprompters set up. so the president, if he decides to make some remarks, this could be one of those episodes -- talking to advisers -- >> yeah. >> right to the bitter end, wolf. >> stand by. hard to hear you. they're playing "gloria" over there. it's a little loud. almost like a campaign rally. he seems to be getting into. playing the music. getting ready. not necessarily a normal send-off. >> no, it is not. again, tradition is that the new president would walk down the capitol steps with the former president and wish him well as he sent him off into retirement. we have watched that. bill clinton did it. it's just -- george h.w. bush,
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george w. bush did it. he's done things his way from day one, and he's going to leave his way. as you know, wolf, there are a lot of people watching who view this as an important page-turning day. they don't want us to cover president trump, soon to be former president trump anymore. obviously, we have to watch this farewell. we will have to watch as he leaves the presidency. can he still exert influence over the republican party? so when he is doing things that affect policy that shape the republican party, we are going to have to cover him. and watch the comeback. now we're watching this most unorthodox farewell and, again -- >> you can see jared kushner, ivanka, members of the family have already gathered over there. eric trump. you can see him there. presumably all of them will be on air force one as well for this flight. less than two-hour flight down to florida. >> and again, this is trademark consistency. he wants this to be about him.
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this is supposed to be a day about the country. it's supposed to be a day about the new president. and yes, partly a day of the soon to be former president respecting democracy tradition, the peaceful transfer of power. but to the very end, donald j. trump, now still the president of the united states, refuses to respect that. this is one of the symbols of american democracy right there, marine one. that's 747 air force one behind him. any plane the president is on is called air force one. but that's the plane that flies around the world. i remember being on that plane when george w. bush flew into iraq. the flag on that jet stands for america around the world. the next time this will fly to florida and then it will return to joint base andrews and it will be a president biden who gets on that plane next and travels the world with a very different agenda than the president he is replacing in 3 1/2 hours.
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>> kate bennett is following all of this. what can you tell us about the family the children who are there. >> the trump kids are mostly headed to different places. ivanka trump and jared kushner, there were moving vans spotted at their house just this week. they purchased a large, very expensive $30 million plot of land outside miami. where they head immediately is still up in the air. the options are their new york city penthouse. there's a cottage for them at bedminster. also lodging for them at mar-a-lago. eric trump and his wife lara live in new york. however, lara trump has been mentioned as wanting to run for congress in north carolina. and, of course, don junior and his girlfriend kimberly guilfoyle, more legs for the family in terms of the republican party that supported his father. don junior's gotten very involved in politics and has
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become the ringmaster of this trump centric republican party. the maga people, if you will. barron trump is leaving washington with his parents and they will return back to palm beach. he'll finish the school year there, i'm told. melania trump's parents who were frequent visitors at the white house spent a lot of time at mar-a-lago as well. they'll be heading there. the quarters of the president and first lady at mar-a-lago were recently renovated, expanded to include more space for them as that becomes their permanent home, and we'll look to see them land there later this afternoon. wolf? >> the president and first lady will be getting off marine one momentarily. kaitlan collins is watching all of this very closely. what else are you learning? >> wolf, this is exactly how the president likes to show up to his rallies. he often picks a playlist. he tells aides to have the music
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blaring when he lands. that's what's happening right now as the president is about to get off marine one for the final time ever as president of the united states. and so he is going. his aides are there in addition to the family members that kate was noting. dan scavino is on marine one with him and the first lady right now but his chief of staff mark meadows, steven miller, other aides are in the audience waiting for the president to make these remarks. it's notable how much this looks like a trump rally. the president's family and top aides in the front row and then some supporters as well. former campaign staffers. i assume the music just stopped. they may be playing lee greenwood. that's the song the president often walks out to at rallies. >> here he comes. here comes the president right now. he's thanking the pilots. john, he's going to be walking down. we're told he's going to be received by the 89th airlift
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wing command. >> the president of the united states, donald j. trump and melania trump. >> gun salute. ♪ ♪ [ playing "hail to the chief" ] ♪
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>> we love you! we love you! >> thank you very much. and we love you. and i can tell you that from the bottom of my heart. this has been an incredible four years. we've accomplished so much together. i want to thank all of my family and my friends and my staff and so many other people for being here. i want to thank you for your effort, your hard work. people have no idea how hard this family worked. they worked, and they worked for you.
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they could have had a much easier life, but they did a fantastic job. i just want to thank all of you. every one. i want to thank mark meadows who is here some place, right there. i want to thank mark. but it's been -- it's been something very special. we've accomplished a lot. our first lady has been a woman of great grace and beauty and dignity. and so popular with the people. so popular with the people. in fact, honey, would you like to say a few words? please. >> being your first lady was my greatest honor. thank you for your love and your support. you will be in my thoughts and prayers. god bless you all. god bless your families. and god bless this beautiful nation. thank you.
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>> what else has to be said, right? but what we've done -- that's true, honey. great job. what we've done has been amazing by any standard. we rebuilt the united states military. we created a new force called space force. that in itself would be a major achievement for a regular administration. we were not a regular administration. we took care of the vets. 91% approval rating. they've never had that before. the vets have given us the va, the vets have given us an approval rating like never has been before. we took care of our vets and beautiful vets. they were very badly treated before we came along. and as you know, we get them great service and pick up the bill, and they can go out and see a doctor if they have to wait long periods of time. we got it so that we can, sadly,
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get rid of people that don't treat our vets properly. we didn't have any of those rights before when i came on. so our vets are happy. our people are happy. our military is thrilled. we also got tax cuts. the largest tax cut and reform in the history of our country by far. i hope they don't raise your taxes, but if they do, i told you so. and if you look at the regulations, which i consider the regulation cuts to be maybe even more important. that's why we have such good and have had such good job numbers and job numbers have been absolutely incredible. when we started, had we not been hit by the pandemic, we would have had numbers that would never have been seen. already our numbers are the best ever. if you look at what happened until february a year ago, our numbers were at a level that nobody had ever seen before.
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and even now we really built it twice. we got hit. nobody blames us for that. the whole world got hit, and then we built it again, and now the stock market is actually substantially higher than it was at its higher point prior to the pandemic. so it's really, you could say we built it twice. and you are going to see -- you're going to see incredible numbers start coming in, if everything is sort of left alone. be careful. very complex. be careful. but you're going to see some incredible things happening. and remember us when you see these things happening, if you would. remember us because i am looking at -- i am looking at elements of our economy that are set to be a rocket ship up. it's a rocket ship up. we have the greatest country in the world. we have the greatest economy in the world. and as bad as the pandemic was,
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we were hit so hard just like the entire world was hit so hard. places that thought they got away with it, didn't get away with it. they're suffering right now. we did something that is really considered a medical miracle. they're calling it a miracle. and that was the vaccine. we got the vaccine developed in nine months instead of nine years or five years or ten years or -- a long time. it was supposed to take a long time. many, many years to develop a vaccine. we have two out. we have another one coming almost immediately. and it really is a great achievement. so you should start to see really good numbers over the next few months. i think you'll see those numbers really sky rocket downward. and i can only say this, we have worked hard. we've left it all, as the athletes would say, we've left it all on the field. we don't have to -- we don't
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have to come and say, we'll never say in a month when we're sitting in florida, we're not going to be looking at each other and saying, you know if we only worked a little bit harder. you can't work harder. and we had a lot of obstacles. we went through the obstacles, and we just got 75 million votes, and that's a record in the history of -- in the history of sitting presidents. that's an all-time record in the history of sitting presidents. it's been an honor. one of the things we're very, very proud of is the selection of almost 300 federal judges and three great supreme court justices. that's a very big number. that's a record-setting number. and so we've done a lot. and there's still things to do. first thing we have to do is pay our respects and our love to the incredible people and families
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who suffered so gravely from the china virus. it's a horrible thing that was put onto the world. we all know where it came from, but it's a hourrrhorrible, horr thing, so be careful, be very, very careful. but we want to pay great love, great love to all of the people that have suffered, including families who have suffered so gravely. so with that, i just want to say you are amazing people. this is a great, great country. it is my greatest honor and privilege to have been your president. >> usa! usa! usa! usa! thank you, trump! thank you, trump!
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thank you, trump! thank you, trump! thank you, trump! thank you, trump! >> i will always fight for you. i will be watching. i will be listening, and i will tell you that the future of this country has never been better. i wish the new administration great luck and great success. i think they'll have great success. they have the foundation to do something really spectacular. and again, we put it in a position like it's never been before, despite the worst plague to hit since -- i guess you'd say 1917. over 100 years ago. and despite that, despite that, the things that we've done have been just incredible, and i
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couldn't have done it without you. so just a good-bye. we love you. we will be back in some form. and again, i want to just -- i want to thank your vice president, mike pence and karen. i want to thank congress because we really worked well with congress. at least certain elements of congress. but we really did. we've gotten so much done that nobody thought would be possible. but i do want to thank congress. and i want to thank all the great people of washington, d.c., all of the people that we worked with to put this miracle together. so have a good life. we will see you soon. thank you. thank you very much. thank you very much. ♪
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♪ >> have a good life. we'll see you soon. a fitting end to the trump presidency. a speech full of puffery and lies, although, of course, with this president, it always could have been worse. there weren't the worst of his typical lies about the election. he did acknowledge that there is an incoming administration. but we don't have to grade on a curve. it was an embarrassment that he did not even mention the name of his successor, joe biden. and the fact that he is making it all about himself and not about the country at all. >> not at all. and look, this is a president trying to write his own legacy. rewrite his own legacy. put it in the context that he sees it, not in the context of reality. as i was watching, i was
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thinking, meanwhile, here on planet earth, here's what's really happening. not the least of which is on the coronavirus. and he talked about the fact that -- he took credit for the speed of the vaccine. that was the scientists. that was the drugmakers who made that happen. and if he's going to talk about the vaccine, how about the fact that the rollout has been a disaster. and people aren't getting it the way that they should be getting it. and that is in large part because of his incompetence, and he's ignored the greatest pandemic that we have seen. and that is how he is walking away from this white house, from this presidency and from the american people. >> in fact, he said as bad as the pandemic was, "was." it's not over. the pandemic is still going on. we hit 400,000 deaths yesterday. >> he often talks about or it's often talked about with president trump that he believes in the power of, quote, positive
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thinking. and you can see that in the speech where he pretends as if everything that's happening in this country is an upside down land. that we are in the greatest economy ever, that things are going so well, that people are not suffering is effectively the message you get from president trump. and that's just not the reality. he said we put it in a position that it has never been before. and that's probably true, but just not in the way that he means. the economy is in a really terrible state. people are dying every day. vaccine isn't being distributed as efficiently as it should be. this is the reality that president trump is leaving as you see him now boarding air force one with melania trump to leave for florida. i also thought, jake, it was notable the very first thing he said was to praise his own family who he put in positions of government power. another break in tradition. another break in norms in this
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country. >> there he is. the 45th president of the united states and first lady melania trump waving good-bye to the country. he leaves with the lowest approval ratings of and president after one term in the history of scientific polling. >> melania trump also leaving with the lowest approval rating of any first lady in the history of polling which is a remarkable thing. >> the plane air force one will fly them to mar-a-lago and then the plane will fly back without them on it, and that will be the last time president trump is always -- has been on air force one. >> and it is -- and is keeping with -- oh, there is -- >> and here is president-elect biden and soon to be first lady jill biden leaving from blair house across the street from the white house. they apparently were waiting for donald trump to wave good-bye because they actually were scheduled to leave a little earlier, about 20 minutes ago.
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but with the grace and class we have come to expect from them, they waited for donald trump to have his moment. they are going to go to mass right now . >> that's right. >> despite being snubbed. despite having to endure a speech from the man he beat, that barelyalluded to him and to the challenges joe biden will face, he, obviously, did the right thing in waiting and this is going to be joe biden's day. this is, from here on out, i mean, it was really kind of theatrical that we saw donald trump go up on the stage, on those stairs and exit as joe biden and jill biden entered the screen. >> and what we're about to see as joe biden and jill biden go to church this morning is the dawn of a new era, new for the
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last four years, but it's almost in some ways a return to washington as usual. a denizen of this down, joe biden, who has been here most of his adult life, is going to go to church in a storied cathedral that has a long history in washington, with members of congress from both sides of the aisle. a show of bipartisanship. a show of normalcy this morning as one era ends and another one begins. it's a symbolic thing, but i do think that it is -- it really speaks to, at the core, what joe biden is about and what he wants to do and what he wants to do is just bring things back to normal. bring the temperature down a little bit. and it's not a reality show anymore. >> as we wait for president-elect biden to go to the cathedral of st. matthew, we wait for air force one to leave
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from joint base andrews, let's bring in john bolton, who was president trump's national security adviser. mr. bolton, ambassador bolton, thanks for joining us. what was your reaction to what you heard from outgoing president trump there? >> well, i don't think it varies much from what he said for the past couple of months. i think it falls into the category of, it could have been worse, like much of his administration. but i think it underlines something that i've listened to a lot of television this morning. a lot of the president's critics and a lot of the president's supporters haven't yet appreciated. the supporters not really believing he's about to depart. the critics being unwilling to give up the fun they've had for the past four years and i don't take second chair to anybody in being a critic. i wrote a 500-page book about him. but the fact is that at noon, in just a little over three hours, he will go from sitting in the
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most powerful office in the world, the oval office, to sitting by the swimming pool at mar-a-lago. we're about to see a change of incalculable dimensions. for those that still have to cover donald trump because they've done it for four years, really, get over it. if you're going to waste your time on that, you're going to miss a lot of what's happening that really affects the future of the country. this is -- >> all right, ambassador. >> donald trump's -- >> go ahead. finish your thought. >> i'm finished. >> okay. ambassador bolton, i'm so sorry. we have to break in there just because the -- it's the president-elect motorcade is arriving at the cathedral of st. matthew the apostle where president-elect biden, incoming first lady jill biden and a bipartisan delegation, leaders
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of congress, including mitch mcconnell, chuck schumer, although those roles are about to change, where schumer will become the majority leader and mcconnell the minority leader, as well as speaker nancy pelosi and kevin mccarthy and their spouses will attend mass with president-elect biden and jill biden at cathedral of st. matthew the apostle in downtown washington, d.c. >> and we're used to seeing presidents go right next to the blair house. maybe even walk over to saints john's, sometimes ride to st. john's episcopal church which has historically been the church for modern presidents. but as we were talking about last night, joe biden is only the second catholic -- will be the second catholic president in american history.
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you see members of his family going up into the cathedral. and st. matthew's cathedral is one of the most remarkable buildings, if you've ever been inside. just a gorgeous, gorgeous cathedral. and it is the home of so many historical moments in presidential history, in american history. not the least of which the funeral mass for president john f. kennedy was there on november 25th, 1963. >> it's not surprising watching joe biden in the public eye this past year. you see him attending church at major moments of inflection for him. going to mass very frequently during the campaign. on big days. and so this is no different from that. but it is, as you noted, part of a long tradition of presidents attending church services on the morning of their inauguration. and again, this morning, who he is attending with is
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particularly important for this country, for washington, d.c., just two weeks to the day after capitol hill was attacked and those same members of congress that we'll see today were inside that building. that was under siege. jake was speaking just this morning to the biden aide about kevin mccarthy. the republican leader who will be there today who was one of the people who spoke about election fraud and peddled these lies but still deciding to show up here this morning. i think the biden team is making a clear statement that this is not about forgiving and forgetting necessarily, but about showing a path forward for governance and what that can look like in this new era. >> yeah. and mccarthy himself is trying to rewrite history by pretending he wasn't part of it. he said it's not the american way to pretend that biden isn't legitimate, even though he had been among the wellers of those
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pretending biden was not legitimate. anderson? >> as we watch joe biden and his -- and the future first lady in this church, evan osnos, for this president, faith is something which is very real. a very real part of his life. this is not a photo op for the cameras. >> no, this is at the core of who he is. he has often said if he didn't go into politics, he would have been a priest. and that church is a landmark in political history. it's the place where john f. kennedy was memorialized. we all remember that image of his son jfk jr., just 3 years old, his 3rd birthday waving on the steps of that church. and john f. kennedy, the first catholic president, who inspired joe biden to go into politics at all. he was a senior in high school when kennedy was inaugurated. and you follow that forward to today. and i think there's a power in the ritual. joe biden is a big believer.
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it's part of his faith. it's part of his family life. every year they go to the same places for thanksgiving. they make sandwiches and eat them in the car. it's a big part hough he imagines that you heal. it's -- when his family was torn apart at multiple times. the way they got through it, as he will tell you, was ritual. what we're seeing today is, despite the attempt by an outgoing president to dispense with the rituals, to toss them out and say i'm going to create an alternative reality essentially, joe biden is saying, no, no, the ritual prevails and the ritual today is to hand off the peaceful transfer of power. >> i spoke with biden about this. and even after the death of his wife and young child and then, of course, beau, i asked him, did you lose your faith? and he said, no. it was my rock. his wife did. she lost her faith for a while. but he continued. and what he is saying with -- this is a staffer of his told me a story.
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when they're traveling, when he was vice president, they would always -- she put it, had to find a priest because -- so he could have a service, a private service. no matter where they were. because it is so, so important to him. it is the ritual. it is a sign of -- it's a refreshing of your mind in many ways. taking you out of your job that you have to do. and it is so important to him and it is so not something he is doing as a performance art. it is something he really believes in. >> but let's not ignore the ritual, the secular ritual, you know, the ritual of honoring his -- even his political opponents and saying we're all part of this. >> air force one about to take off from joint base andrews. the trump family on board. van, the plane load of grievances, of grudges going to florida. a new administration taking
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over. >> you can just feel a big weight coming off the shoulders of a lot of people. it's been a really nightmarish four years for a lot of people. and just the idea, i mean, listen, as this plane takes off and they go do what they're going to do. it's exactly the case that the country is on its knees. it's been on its knees grieving, hurting. now it's going to be on its knees pray with this new president, and we can stand up together now. we can stand up together now. >> and the soundtrack we continue to hear throughout these scenes is surreal. perhaps surreally inappropriate. >> what's wrong with "gloria." >> let's watch in silence as this air force one takes off and the trump family leaves washington. leaves the seat of power. ♪
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♪ yes, it was my way ♪ >> there you go. and inside the church, the biden family. harris family. a new beginning. evan, it's so interesting what you said about not only the significance of this church but also the significance of faith for joe biden throughout his life at key moments in his life. >> yeah. and at the worst moments. look, after the death of his late wife neilia hunter and his daughter in 1972, he said at
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that time, look, i had been raised on the scriptures and i could not find the answers in there. and one of the -- he actually went and said to the bishops, i don't know what to do. in fact, he went to the senate and said, i don't know if i can take my seat. i don't know if i have it in me. and the senate, there were these older members of the senate who said -- some of whom suffered terrible tragedies in their lives and they said the way you'll get through this is by throwing yourself into your work, by giving yourself a sense of purpose, a reason to get up every day. and you don't have the luxury of failing because you have these two boys at home and you have to succeed for them. he went off to the senate. and that was the beginning of this path that leads him right up to today. >> mitch mcconnell we see there. nancy pelosi as well. david axelrod, social distancing you see in effect. little things, but already signs of big changes. >> yeah. the symbolism is so important that we can -- to re-establish the notion that we can be
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political opponents without savaging and destroying each other. you know, biden's faith is not just his catholic faith but great faith in the institutions of our democracy. he believes in them. he was not -- we were a bunch of outsiders who came to the white house. he was someone who was a bit skeptical of us because he believed as imperfect as the system was, he believed in it. he believed you could work across the aisle. so now it will be put to the test. i have to say, these two images of trump taking off to "my way" and this scene inside this church is literally the sacred and the profane. the reality show leaving town and the sobriety of what we're watching in this church. and it does give you hope. it gives you hope. >> and to start -- the reality of the american carnage which the former president had, you know, talked about at his
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inauguration, that is what he leaves behind in a washington which is in lockdown. >> incredible that he circled the capitol in marine one and what he saw was a capitol surrounded by fence and razor wire and troops. that is his legacy. that is what he has left. now comes the work of taking that fencing down and rebuilding our democracy. >> wolf? >> you know, it's really a contrast that we're seeing now the incoming president, president-elect biden, attending church services. the soon-to-be former president of the united states at what seemed to be a little bit of a campaign rally at joint base andrews. totally inappropriate. the music that was playing there. but that was a campaign rally as opposed to a formal departure ceremony and the fact that he avoided, avoided even congratulating, saying anything about the new president of the united states was pretty repulsive as we're watching this unfold. we're only about three hours away from the swearing in
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ceremony of the new president and new vice president of the united states. you're looking at live pictures from capitol hill right now. kaitlan collins, you're getting new information. what are you learning? >> yeah, wolf, this is notable given that we know president trump never called joe biden after he won the presidency. they never spoke. he never invited him to the white house as, of course, is precedent. but my colleague kevin liptag is breaking news that president trump did leave a letter for his successor in the white house before he left joint base andrews, or left to go to joint base andrews. and, of course, wolf, that is tradition. if you remember back after obama had invited trump to the white house, he also left him a letter in the resolute desk, i believe in the oval office. when he came into office after he was inaugurated. and that was a letter that president trump loved to show off to people. he often talked about how gracious the obamas were during the transition. he even mentioned it in his inauguration speech four years ago. just a few moments in.
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he said they had been magnificent. of course, he's not treated the bidens in the same manner but he did leave joe biden a letter. what's still unclear, wolf, and what we may learn is what that letter says and what message president trump left for joe biden given he has broken basically every other norm when it kcomes to the transition of power. he did keep up with this one, according to my colleague kevin liptag. >> why was it so difficult, so impossible, kaitlan for this outgoing president of the united states to do what every other president has done. mention the new president by name. congratulate the new president by name, invite the new president over to the white house. do what every other president has done. this is the first time as we keep pointi ing out in 152 year that the outgoing president hasn't been at the inauguration of his successor. why was that so difficult for donald trump? >> i think he told us that the day of the election.
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we saw him go to his campaign headquarters before the polls were closed and he said he was not a very good loser. we saw that come to life over the past two months where the president refused to accept reality, refused to accept the results and refused to mention joe biden's name as he did not in his farewell address he recorded. he didn't mention it there at joint base andrews. they had prepared some scripted remarks for the president for this morning, talking about the transition and the new administration. of course, he scrapped those. he did not use a teleprompter. so i think the president said it himself. for why he could not accept this in the way we've seen other presidents do. >> it was really, really not in the best traditions of the united states of america. arlette saenz, you're watching the next president of the united states at this church service. he is, as we keep pointing out, a religious man, a man of deep faith. only the second catholic to be elected president of the united states. give us a little background on what's unfolding right now? >> well, what we're seeing right now is president-elect biden
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turning once again to his catholic faith, which has really been a mainstay throughout his life. as you mentioned, he'll be the second catholic to become president. following in the footsteps of president john f. kennedy whose funeral mass was held in that very church that biden is attending mass this morning. and you saw the president-elect inviting those congressional leaders, trying to send this message of unity as they are visiting that church this morning. now in the past, for biden's past inaugurations as vice president, he held a private mass with his family to ring in that day. and over the course of the campaign, you saw biden attending mass back in delaware. also when he was out on the campaign trail, he would quietly find churches to slip into to attend mass while he was traveling the country. and you often saw biden turning to events at churches. he is very comfortable being in a church, speaking in a church.
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as faith is really central to who he is. now one thing that will be very interesting to watch in the coming weeks is what biden's churchgoing habits will be like here in washington, d.c. will he decide to attend one catholic church regularly? or could he perhaps visit various catholic churches around the city? but it's very clear that his catholic faith has been central to his upbringing, to the way that he views the world, and the way that he carries himself. and that is something that we expect to see continue into the white house with him. >> you're right. he's a regular chuch attendant. he goes to church all of the time. goes to mass, practices his catholic faith. jeff zeleny, you're getting some new information on what we might be hearing from the president-elect right after he's sworn in as the new president. >> wolf, we did see president-elect joe biden leaving the blair house just a short time ago. i'm told that is where they put
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the finishing touches on the inaugural speech that we're going to hear in just a couple of hours. this is a speech he's been working on for a couple of months. i'm told bit by bit, day by day he'd have ideas, meet with his team. but the one overarching theme i'm told, a glimpse of that came from his victory speech november 7th. he said let's give each other a chance. so that is going to be an underarching, underlying message here talking about giving republicans some space here. giving one another a chance to work together. we've been talking about how we're turning a page. that's certainly a central theme of his approach. but also he wants to turn the page back to a time when people work together. we'll see how possible that is in today's washington. but i am also told by talking to advisers to the president-elect that he has not been consumed by president trump. these last 2 1/2 months or so, he's been very confident in his victory that's been affirmed
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again and again and again in court decisions. and he's not been consumed by president trump at all. he's also urged his advisers and his team to not be consumed by president trump. he's urged them to look beyond that. president trump is not living in joe biden's head. it was quite the opposite. clearly over the last few months here. so as we hear the inaugural address, it's going to be about 20 minutes or so in length, which is slightly longer than some speeches. bill clinton had a 14-minutie ig new inaugural address. it's very windy out here and quite chilly with the windchill which will be blowing in his face. the stage is being set now. and it is remarkably different than other years. these chairs are 2 by 2. the former presidents will not be sitting next to each other. there will be some space between them. but they're also handing out blue inaugural blankets for the
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guests who are here. certainly a different setting. but as the sun is now shining here over the capitol, it is a different sense. and now the moment of celebration comes. certainly it's been a somber inaugural activity, recognizing the coronavirus challenges and other matters. i am told this speech, though, will be a path forward for the country. specifics of what he intends to do, that will come later in a joint address to congress next month. indeed when he goes to the white house this afternoon, he'll be signing more than 15 executive actions, rescinding much of what president trump did in office. certainly the muslim travel ban, other controversial matters. but for now at least, this inaugural address will try and be a lofty urging the country, let's give each other a chance. wolf? >> it's important to note, this will be significant. let me bring john king into this. john, former president bill
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clinton and hillary clinton will be there. former president george w. bush, laura bush will be there. barack obama, michelle obama will be there, and the current vice president, soon to be former vice president mike pence will be there as well. current president will not be there. >> always a critical part of a presidential inaugural to show the peaceful transition of power. a day which partisanship is not supposed to matter. all the more so important today because the president who is leaving town, who has now left town, does not respect those traditions. and the president who has now left town inspired an attack on that building you're seeing on the screen right now where the inauguration will take place. all the more important the united states said a signal to the world that democracy survived and repelled an attack from within. an attack inspired by the very president of the united states. and i think what jeff zeleny just said about the tone is very important. we sat here four years ago and donald trump gave an inaugural
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address in which he spoke of american carnage. today joe biden has to speak about the american challenge. the pandemic is at a record high in numbers right now. perhaps plateauing a bit. the vaccine challenge awaits the new president. the world is watching this. the united states is rejoining the paris climate accords. showing again respect for the nato and other allies around the world. this page-turning day, the economy is wlbleeding jobs and have an inaugural unlike any other in part because of covid and also by the insurrection inspired by the president of the united states which has this fortress atmosphere around it. joe biden has to in his first moment as president acknowledge that he becomes president at a moment of several crises. a challenge to the political system, a challenge of domestic terrorism, the number one challenge of the pandemic and its domino effect on the economy and everything else. but the resilience of joe biden has been a testament and a trademark of his career.
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and that's what he wants to project to the american people today. yeah, times are tough. let's get to it. >> what a difference that election makes, too. very different men. two very, very different presidents. we expect arrivals for the inaugural ceremony to get under way very, very soon. we're going to follow joe biden as he leaves church and heads to the u.s. capitol. his final journey before becoming the 46th president of the united states. 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.
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cisco. the bridge to possible.
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you can now get eargo at no cost to you. call or go online now! here in the nation's capital, we're about to witness a monumental shift in leadership for this country with the inauguration of joe biden and vice president kamala harris. our special coverage here on cnn continues. i'm wolf blitzer high above capitol hill on this inauguration day. right now the incoming president and vice president are taking a moment for prayer and reflection. they're inside st. matthew's cathedral in washington attending a private service along with top democrats and
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republican leaders in congress. we will see officials arriving at the capitol in the next hour for the inaugural ceremony that will be capped by the oath of office and the new president's address to the nation. our correspondents are fanned out across the capital. they're getting new information about what to expect in the immediate hours ahead. meantime, let's go back to the white house. jake tapper is standing by. president-elect biden says this may be the most unusual inauguration in u.s. history. >> it certainly is up there, wolf. security here in washington, as you know, is unprecedented after the terrorist attack on the u.s. capitol. strict covid restrictions are also in full force in the midst of this horrific attack. team biden is doing things different, including a different take on the traditional parade past the white house. it's replaced with a pa trade across america featuring televid performances from all 50 states. and we'll cover it all.
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and dana, this is such a surreal inaugural. it would be even if it were not for the particular nature of the outgoing president, donald trump, who remains the president, by the way. i should note he's on his way to florida right now but until joe biden takes the oath of office, president trump is president. but beyond that, the pandemic and then the terrorist attack making washington -- downtown washington essentially a ghost town. >> it is. the sound of silence is kind of creepy given the fact that we're used to covering inaugurations with certainly security but with people. with revelers, with people who are excited. it's not as if people aren't excited. there are people who are very, very excited, but they can't be here for the dual reasons of covid and the pandemic and the fact that this is a fortress thanks to the insurrection that
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the now outgoing president incited at the capitol. >> not just the insurrection, but the continued threat of terrorism by president trump supporters. >> that's right. it continues. but, you know, look, this is now -- he's gone. the building behind you is empty. the cleaning crew is there. the movers are coming in. and it is now joe biden's day. it always was, but now the focus is squarely on him as it should be. and on kamala harris. and the history that the two of them are going to make together in just 3 1/2 hours. >> yeah, and it's such an interesting story between the two of them. it's fitting that in joe biden's life so many things have kind of book ends. and her relationship -- kamala harris's relationship with joe biden goes back to his son beau biden who was kind of at the heart and the soul of so much of what joe biden does. you hear him often talking about
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how he thought he would be attending beau biden's inauguration, not necessarily his own. and it's that relationship that i think they bring with them to the white house. and when i spoke to kamala harris a couple of weeks ago for our documentary, we talked a little bit about how after this presidential campaign where she ran, hoping to be president against joe biden and they had a really tough moment on the debate stage where she gave her personal story about busing how they resolved that and this is what she said about what joe biden -- what their ability to resolve that relationship says about how joe biden is going to govern. >> did you worry, though, that the politics of the situation would potentially throw a wrench into the personal relationship that you had with him? >> no, i mean, we were --
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listen. the thing that i can tell you about joe, and it's evident by the fact that he asked me to join him on the ticket, is that it is the point that is made whether we talk about our commitment to bipartisanship, to bringing the country together and unifying the country, to healing the country, there is an assumption and a knowledge among realists that there will be disagreements. based on life experience, based on perspective. and there is nothing wrong with that. there is nothing wrong with that. if it is born out of values and principles and not -- and as joe likes to say, i love when he talks about, you don't question people's motivation, but, you know, you can agree there are disagreements. >> ultimately, despite all of
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that, your presidential run ended somewhat early, before the voting began. >> yeah. >> you know, why do you think that was? why do you think your candidacy didn't break through at that time? >> well, i'll tell you. making a decision to get out of a race is probably as difficult as making a decision to get into a race. especially when you're talking about running for president. and there are a lot of factors that go into that. and the decision to get out of the race was a difficult decision. but i'll tell you, you know, the fact that it turned out the way it did also i think speaks to the reality that there are decisions you make along the way based on what you believe is the
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right thing to do. and here we are. >> so, obviously, this is a big day for kamala harris as well. she'll be the first woman, the first black woman, the first south asian woman to ever be elected vice president of the united states. and that is an achievement for this country, for sure. it's a major, major moment of history that that is happening on this day. and even though there won't be really anyone here frankly in washington to celebrate it, it's a massive moment for people all across this country who, just like they did when barack obama was elected in 2008, want to celebrate this moment as a mark of progress for this country. >> no question. i saw a meme online yesterday that -- with a picture of kamala harris that said today is the last day there will never have been a female vice president. and it's true. starting at a little after noon,
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history will be made. and we've said it so many times since she was picked and then, of course, since they won. but it's going to be in action. your documentary was really terrific, abby, but one of the lines i still remember is that moment that she had with joe biden after which she had a sugar high because she was really popular and then it came crashing down. but she came back in a way that the same way that joe biden did when barack obama picked him. and it's such a reminder that it's about being prepared. it's about being ready. it's about being special. but it's about timing. >> and relationships as well. >> yeah. and it is such a moment, not just even for the country, but for the world. the united states of america is a country that represents a lot of things to a lot of people. and one of the places where we have lagged is in representation
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in our leaders. i saw a meme or a video on instagram, whatever you call it, just a picture. all it was was a picture of every person who has served as vice president. and then it ends with kamala harris. and it's just you go dozens and dozens of men. all men. almost exclusively white. there was a native american vice president several decades ago, but -- and then all of a sudden you have kamala harris' smiling face and it just takes you back and you're like, wow. it's really kind of embarrassing that we've never had a woman serving as president or vice president, but now that cannot be said anymore. and it is -- you know, the united states of america in so many ways is an idea and we're constantly striving to achieve that idea and those ideals. and whatever you think of kamala harris' politics or democrats or whatever, this is one more step towards achieving what the u.s. is supposed to stand for.
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we are closing in, of course, on the beginning of the biden/harris inauguration. big name guests are gathering. we're standing by for former presidents obama and bush and clinton to make their entrances. we'll bring all of that to you. stay with us. we'll squeeze in this quick break.
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traditional hearing aids. unfortunately nobody won. johnny tell our contestants about our lovely parting gifts. johnny: it's a peruvian pan flute. host: well that's all the time we have for now. we will see you next time, bye bye i heard that bring in the new year with better hearing from eargo. shop our new years after party sale now with $400 off eargo neo hifi. and if you're an active or retired federal employee you can now get eargo at no cost to you. call or go online now! ♪ a new day in america. the inauguration of president joe biden gets under way at the u.s. capitol soon. right now, we go to cnn's manu
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raju who is on capitol hill for us. manu, what are you hearing about what lies ahead for president biden's administration? >> the question will be how closely will a lot of republicans be willing to work with him, particularly in the narrowly divided congress, in the house and senate where they'll need in the senate to get bills through on a bipartisan basis. an interesting moment just happened. a letter was sent by 17 house republican freshmen congratulating joe biden on his victory saying they want to work with him. this includes some people who were trying to overturn the electoral results like madison hawthorne, congressman from north carolina. but also some who voted to impeach donald trump in the last -- in this most recent round of impeachment, pete meijer being one of them. here i am on the east front of the capitol which just two weeks ago was the trump-inspired mob that came and broke through some of these doors and entered the capitol. and just in a matter of moments in the same spot, we'll start to see some of these dignitaries
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arrive, everyone from former vice president dan quayle to the former presidents, obama, clinton and bush, all will be arriving in this door right behind me. anderson, all throughout this building there are reminders of what happened just two weeks ago. still making some last-minute repairs to parts of this building destroyed. windows and the like. boarded up windows in parts of this building as well. so people see what happened here two weeks ago. some want a new change, want to turn the page and that's indicative of this letter just sent by some republicans to say it's time to turn the page. at least start off on the right foot with this new administration, something we've not heard from house republicans over the last two months here. >> manu, at what point does the new congress begin, and at what point does the impeachment continue? >> well, this afternoon at 4:30 pm, the senate will gavel back
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into session and that will be the first time senate democrats will officially be in the majority. once kamala harris is sworn in as vice president, there will be three democratic senators who will get sworn in this afternoon to give the democrats a 50/50 senate, 51-50 with kamala harris breaking the tie and they are still working on some of the procedures and moving forward with the impeachment trial. the expectation is that it could begin within a matter of weeks. i'm told democrats wanted to avoid making today about donald trump's impeachment trial which is one reason why nancy pelosi has held back sending that article of impeachment from the house to the senate to begin that trial because it's going to dominate action here in the first few weeks of this senate and could be -- could complicate getting biden's government formed, getting his cabinet approved by the senate. >> manu raju, thanks. we're watching the marine band departing. kate anderson brour is the author of "the residents: the insiders account of the white
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house residence." what do you hear about the handover going on in the white house. this is always a chaotic time, particularly in this white house, in this time. >> it's really controlled chaos in the white house. they have five hours to make this move typically between 11:00. normally, the normal inauguration when after there's a coffee in the blue room and then the motorcade would go to capitol hill, and then the swearing in would happen and there would be a presidential parade. in this white house, there's going to be a little more time for them to do that because we know that vice president biden will be going to arlington and there will be a decent window. and there are about 100 staff. these are butlers, ushers working at a feverish pace to make this move happen. so that when the bidens move in, you know, their toothbrushes will be on the counter in the bathroom. everything is about making it perfect. there's a deep clean of the residence because of covid which
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includes vacuuming drapes, wiping baseboards, cleaning chandeliers. they take great pride in their work and the most patriotic people i've met in washington, frankly. >> we'll check back in with you throughout the day. evan, how do you think the biden family will make this their home? >> well, they know the space very well. after all, he worked in it for eight years. i visited him in his office at the west wing. one of the things he cared about was being able to walk down that hall to the oval office and being in the room and being an adviser, a voice. the incoming vice president will play a similar role. the other thing you notice about that space is that he puts pieces of history there to remind himself. he had portraits of former vice presidents on his own wall because he wanted to remind himself not only of the great moments but frustrating moments. they'd say the constraints of the job. how do i break through. he's very much seeing himself,
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to borrow a phrase. he doesn't see this as doing my way, he sees this as being a descendant of a lineage, someone bearing a trust, a responsibility and he's now moving into that san sanctum sanctorum. >> one thing many don't know about joe biden. he loves real estate. he started out -- he loves houses. he started out in his life buying a little house that belonged to his parents and then buying more land in delaware and in his spare time, he does some architectural drawings. he loves to do that. and so the white house has always been a space that he's been so -- that he marvels at p. he's got himself a pretty nice place now. >> now he does. free of charge. so the house itself has always been of great interest to him. and he redid, of course, when he was in the vice president, they did a lot of work in the vice president's house. it's just something he loves to think about. it relaxes him. >> it's so extraordinary, david,
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to see washington on this day, given what happened some two weeks ago. it says so much about this country and this democracy that two weeks ago there was an attack on the capitol and despite all the unprecedented security in washington, despite all the drama of the last two weeks, the peaceful transfer of power has occurred. >> it's so -- there's an awesome majesty to it that, you know, we've seen our democracy tested, but it's proven resilient. and there's something awesome about the people saying, no, we're going in a different direction. we want to change direction. and to see that power enforced by our institutions, even against the kinds of pressures that they felt. it is -- it underscores why it's worth -- this is worth working for. this is why the world admires
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us. >> i was thinking about the obama inauguration and being there and that whole thing. hope was the word then. faith is the word now. it's different. it's more sober. it endures. >> we are standing by to see incoming president joe biden leaving church, heading to the u.s. capitol. the inauguration will soon be under way. we'll be right back.
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look at these amazing shots coming in. these are live pictures from washington, d.c. the u.s. capitol getting ready for the inauguration of president joe biden. it's going to be getting under way very, very soon. we are covering every angle of this truly amazing and historic day. we're going to check in with kate bennett. she's got details on how the incoming vice president kamala harris and incoming first lady jill biden are making a statement today. what are you learning? >> well, it's a fashion statement, wolf. but i think it's an important one worth noting. the first lady-elect dr. jill biden is wearing an emerging designer. a young designer, alexandra o'neil. she runs a line based in new york and started in 2017. so this blue tweed coat that we're seeing, underneath it is a matching dress, were both done by this young new designer. and then also kamala harris, i'm
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going to make sure i get the names right. she's also wearing young designers. wearing two young black designers, one is from baton rouge, christopher john rogers and sergio hudson is from south carolina. so, again, i think we're returning to the space here today when we talk about these clothes. and it is important. people say it's not important, but it is. michelle obama really turned heads with her fashion and she did so very intellectually. many diverse designers. she showcased different kinds of american fashion. and didn't sort of just stick to the standard bearers. and as we see today, the incoming first lady, the incoming vice president are both reflecting that new feeling. melania trump left washington today wearing chanel which is a french designer. she arrived wearing that blue
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ralph lauren suit we all remember. but she wore lots of foreign designers. she wore dolce & gabbana in her official portrait. and both gentlemen -- president-elect joe biden and second gentleman-elect doug emhoff are both wearing ralph lauren. >> i feel like i should be asking you, who are you wearing today, but i'll not ask you that question. i'll ask kate anderson braugher. give us a sense of what all of this means. >> i think it's going to be a return to what we saw with michelle obama. she wore famously jason wu to the inauguration in 2009. and so we're seeing both kamala harris and dr. biden representing female designers, american designers. that was very important to dr. biden. i know that she wear an american designer today.
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today is about celebrating our democracy. the peaceful transfer of power. the pomp and ceremony of today. we don't have a buckingham palace. we don't have the kind of celebrations they have in other countries around the world. this is that moment in american history. everybody wants to celebrate america. and so it only makes sense to be wearing american designers and highlighting women. and i think that, you know, different parts of america that maybe has been overlooked in the past four years. we're going to be seeing more of that. >> i am sure we will. we're only moments away from seeing dignitaries and guests arriving on capitol hill. right now here's a live look at the scene here in washington as we get closer and closer to the inauguration ceremony.
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we're back. i want to bring? jeff zeleny right now. weather is a factor. it's chilly. it's a bit windy. give us a sense of what it feels like where you are. >> wolf, it definitely is a brisk january morning. certainly more temperate that it could be for some inaugurations. i was thinking back to barack obama's first inauguration. it was much colder that day. and it was bone-chilling cold. it's not that, but there's a brisk wind. and that is something that joe biden is going to feel directly here as he is standing on the west front of the capitol looking out across the national mall over the washington monument to the lincoln
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memorial. there is a brisk wind that will be hitting him directly in the face. but i'm told that he is doing a couple of things. one, he is going to be warmed up. you can see the lectern there. there's some type of a heating device in there to keep him warm which is understandable as he'll be delivering an address that we're told will be about 20 minutes or so in length. even as this is happening, from his perch there, he'll be looking across washington, seeing the seat of government. his new government. and what is happening right now at this hour, there are acting secretaries, acting agency heads being at the ready to take the reins. this is because president biden will take office unlike any of his predecessors, without any cabinet secretaries confirmed. the senate has not confirmed a single cabinet nominee. barack obama when he was president had six nominees confirmed. president trump had two nominees confirmed. so that means there will be
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acting attorney general, an acting defense secretary, but the biden team wanted to keep the names of most of these individuals secret, i am told, until after the noon hour, until this afternoon. so there would not be any interference by trump officials still in the government. so for the next two hours or so, this is still president trump's government. so this is something that is happening behind the scenes quietly now. these acting secretaries will be in position to assume power this afternoon. and that's for continuity of government. so one top person here is the surgeon general. the outgoing surgeon general has submitted his resignation, jerome adams, who has become a household name to many of us in the coronavirus fight. it will be an acting surgeon general appointed and working this afternoon before the biden nominee dr. vivek murthy can be names. the weather is actually strange. i can tell you now a bit of some snow flurries coming in.
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certainly is above freezing, but up here at this altitude where we are and really about the same height as where president biden will be, a lot of things in the atmosphere here. but it's a sunny day. could be far worse weatherwise. we'll see if that impacts his speech. wolf? >> i suspect it won't. he's going to be delivering the speech. they have those heaters up there as well as i remember having spent time over the years covering the inauguration. there's no doubt that priority number one for the incoming president will be dealing with this covid pandemic that's getting worse and worse, even as there are these two vaccines available. >> jeff makes a very important point about the urgency to get the biden team in place. you want the defense secretary, department of homeland security in for big national security decisions, but what the new president needs first and foremost is his new coronavirus team, his new health care team.
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so they're pushing congress to move as quickly as possible on that because, not only is it a new team, it's a very new approach. president trump ignored the pandemic. president trump ignored science. president trump resisted advice from his advisers to be more aggressive, to use more power of the federal government and left so much up to the states. now the states do have to do a great deal. it is the state responsibility to distribute and administer the vaccines. the biden team wants to surge in a backup arm army, a crisis team, ramp up and keep a close eye on production and distribution. we'll have a democratic president. so across the government, you'll have a more activist government, but especially when it comes to the pandemic as we watch over the course of this first 100 days, can they get those 100 million vaccines distributed and administered. the bidens want to do a lot to give the schools resources to reopen.
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to do that, you need your team. we'll focus a lot on the cabinet sec stairs, but the assistant secretary, deputy secretaries, the number twos and number threes all the way down. we'll talk about the thematic change, the personalities and the leadership change, the history of joe biden's inauguration and kamala harris being the first woman and the first woman of color as vice president. the important pieces of government, that will be done in the weeks ahead. again, joe biden respects the government in a way donald trump never did. and to have respect for your government, to kick it into gear, you need your people. >> he certainly does. so much experience, eight years as a vice president, 30-plus years as a u.s. senator. he knows washington and knows the nature of this business. one of the most consequential inaugurations in american history gets under way very, very soon. we're keeping a very close eye on the capitol as all the vips are arriving. stay with us for the big
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entrances, the oaths, the inaugural address and so much more. it's all ahead. 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.
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you're looking at live pictures of the u.s. capitol on this stage. the inaugural ceremony gets under way very soon, launching the presidency of joseph r. biden, jr. i'm wolf blitzer. we're live at the u.s. capitol on a day that is bringing great change here in washington. vips there now starting to arrive. the audience, smaller than usual, socially distanced and under extraordinary security after the deadly insurrection on
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these very same grounds here at the u.s. capitol. the president-elect is expected to l to leave a private church service any minute. he'll take his oath as the 46th president around noon followed by his address to the nation. jake, this event has been scaled back dramatically for understandable reasons it's still such a signature moment for the united states of america. >> of course, it is. wolf, democracy continues, though it was tested even as the outgoing president of the united states is boycotting the inauguration. he's already left town on his way to florida. outgoing vice president mike pence will be there, however, to witness the transfer of power. it's not a peaceful of power, but it is a transfer. pence will be there along with former presidents obama, george w. bush and bill clinton. so many other officials and
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dignitaries from both political parties. i want to go to cnn's arlette saenz. plekt biden has gotten word from a politician wishing him well. >> that is president obama. he tweeted just a short while ago a photo of the two of them in the white house and said, congratulations to my friend, president joe biden. he's getting ahead of himself a little bit since he won't be president for a few more hours. he added, this is your time. this is a relationship that was forged during those eight years they spent together in the white house. they didn't start off particularly close. they ran against each other during the 2008 presidential campaign. over those eight years as they spent that time working together in the white house, they became incredibly close. their families became close. they often had that weekly lunch just between the two of them as
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they were trying to work on the business of leading the white house. over the course of the presidential campaign, you saw president obama out there, giving this personal testimony of what president-elect biden would be like in the oval office. he's seen up firsthand up close more than anyone else operating in the white house. president obama will be among the ex-presidents on hand here today for biden's inauguration. you also see george w. bush as well as bill clinton, and then the former president and the soon-to-be president biden will make their way over to arlington national cemetery, laying a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier. among those on hand with the soon-to-be president biden. i'm currently standing on the line on the west front of the
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capitol. this is an area that is normally filled by hundreds, even thousands of ticketed guests. due to the covid-19 pandemic, so much of this inauguration is scaled back. what you're seeing right behind me is members of congress starting to come in to the ticketed area to watch as biden will be inaugurated as the 46th president in just a short time. >> all right. arlette saenz, thank you so much. let's go to cnn's kaitlyn collins. normally for comments such as yourself, this would be an opportunity to do governor spotting, to show off how much you know about the noted politicians from around the country and what they look like. the challenge is a little tougher this year because they're all wearing masks. >> reporter: yeah, it is. jake, we did go down. we saw some of the names on the seats waiting for those governors and other guests to get here. a lot of democratic lawmakers. even some allies of president
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trump's are going to be here, according to what we looked at when we looked at the seating. that includes christy noems, a big ally of the president. she's expected to be here. her seat is among other governors including arizona's doug ducey who the president feuded with in the aftermath of the election because he didn't do the president's bidding. several other guests will be here in a socially distanced manner, jake. >> all right. we're watching right now as a vip pulls up to the capitol. we're not sure who it is. but obviously the person is coming with some sort of law enforcement protection, and we will watch to see who it is. manu raju, you're at capitol hill. tell us what you're seeing. >> reporter: in front of me, a huge motorcade, probably more than one dignitary. it looks like sonia so


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