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'We must end this uncivil war,' Biden says, taking over a U.S. in crisis

PoliticsJan 21, 2021 12:28AM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. Inauguration of Biden as 46th President of United States 2/2

By Trevor Hunnicutt, Patricia Zengerle and Jarrett Renshaw

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Joe Biden was sworn in as president of the United States on Wednesday, offering a message of unity and restoration to a deeply divided country reeling from a battered economy and a raging coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans.

Standing on the steps of the U.S. Capitol two weeks after a mob of then-President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the building, Biden called for a return to civic decency in an inaugural address marking the end of Trump's tempestuous four-year term.

"To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America, requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy: unity," Biden, a Democrat, said after taking the oath of office.

"We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this - if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts."

The themes of Biden's 21-minute speech mirrored those he had put at the center of his presidential campaign, when he portrayed himself as an empathetic alternative to the divisive Trump, a Republican.

Saying there was "no time to waste," Biden signed 15 executive actions shortly after entering the White House on Wednesday afternoon to set a new course and overturn some of Trump's most controversial policies.

The orders included mandating masks on federal property, halting the withdrawal from the World Health Organization, rejoining the Paris climate accord and ending a travel ban on some Muslim-majority countries.

Biden told reporters in the Oval Office that Trump had left him "a very generous letter," but he would not disclose its contents.

The inauguration itself, one unlike any other in U.S. history, served as a stark reminder of both the tumult that defined the Trump era as well as the pandemic that still threatens the country.

Amid warnings of possible renewed violence, thousands of armed National Guard troops circled the Capitol in an unprecedented show of force. The National Mall, typically packed with throngs of supporters, instead was filled with nearly 200,000 U.S. flags. Attending dignitaries - including former U.S. Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton - wore masks and sat several feet apart.

Biden's running mate, Kamala Harris, the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, became the first Black person, first woman and first Asian American to serve as vice president after she was sworn in by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court's first Latina member.

The president spoke forcefully about the Jan. 6 Capitol siege when Trump backers breached the building, sending lawmakers fleeing for safety and leaving five dead, including a police officer. But Biden never mentioned his predecessor by name.

The violence prompted the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives to impeach Trump last week for an unprecedented second time, accusing him of incitement after he exhorted his backers to march on the building to press false claims of election fraud.

'SACRED GROUND'

"Here we stand, just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work on our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground," Biden said. "It did not happen; it will never happen. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever."

The norm-defying Trump flouted one last convention on his way out of the White House when he refused to meet with Biden or attend his successor's inauguration, breaking with a political tradition seen as affirming the peaceful transfer of power.

Trump, who never conceded the Nov. 3 election, did not mention Biden by name in his final remarks as president on Wednesday morning, when he touted his administration's record. He then boarded Air Force One for the last time and flew to his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida.

Top Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence and the party's congressional leaders, skipped Trump's send-off and attended Biden's inauguration instead.

Biden takes office at a time of deep national unease, with the country facing what his advisers have described as four compounding crises: the pandemic, the economic downturn, climate change and racial inequality.

After a bitter campaign marked by Trump's baseless allegations of election fraud, Biden's speech struck a conciliatory tone rarely heard from Trump. He asked Americans who did not vote for him to give him a chance.

"I pledge this to you: I will be a president for all Americans," he said. "And I promise you I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did."

Although his remarks were directed primarily at domestic problems, Biden also delivered a message to the rest of the world. He promised to repair alliances frayed by Trump and act as a strong partner for peace, progress and security. He made no specific mention of high-stakes disputes with North Korea, Iran and China.

World leaders issued congratulatory statements, with several U.S. allies expressing relief at Biden's inauguration after Trump's unpredictable tenure that was focused on an "America First" agenda.

BACK TO WHITE HOUSE

Biden took the presidential oath, administered by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts, with his left hand resting atop a 5-inch heirloom Bible that has been in his family for a century.

Later in the day, Biden attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, accompanied by Obama, Bush and Clinton.

Afterward, his motorcade joined an abbreviated parade on his way to the White House. Biden and his family left their limousines on Pennsylvania Avenue to walk the final few hundred yards to their new home.

"It feels like I'm going home," Biden said when asked about returning to the White House.

In her first briefing for reporters, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Biden's first telephone conversation with a foreign leader would be with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday. They will discuss Biden's decision to revoke the permit needed to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline and other bilateral issues, she said.

Biden's inauguration as the 46th president was the zenith of a five-decade career in public service that included more than three decades in the U.S. Senate and two terms as vice president under Obama. At 78, he is the oldest U.S. president in history.

He faces calamities that would challenge even the most experienced politician.

The pandemic reached a pair of grim milestones on Trump's final full day in office on Tuesday, reaching 400,000 U.S. deaths and 24 million infections - the highest of any country. Millions of Americans are out of work because of pandemic-related shutdowns and restrictions.

Biden's top priority is a $1.9 trillion plan that would enhance jobless benefits and provide direct cash payments to households to alleviate the financial pain from coronavirus.

But it will require approval from a divided Congress, where Democrats hold slim advantages in both the House and Senate.

The Senate on Wednesday approved Avril Haines to be director of national intelligence, the nation's top intelligence job, the first confirmation of a Biden nominee.

'We must end this uncivil war,' Biden says, taking over a U.S. in crisis
 

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Comments (39)
Gary SKY saw
Gary SKY saw Jan 21, 2021 10:59AM ET
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Where is captain America and batman? Uncivil war.. American really know how to use the England language.. 🤔.. Shame on you English.. Language stolen.. Opps mind my business 🤣🤣🤣
Tenemos Avoir
Tenemos Avoir Jan 21, 2021 8:55AM ET
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Antifa and BLM seem very disinterested in Joe Biden’s call for unity. Their lawless behavior continues in Seattle.
LEONG MING KIEN
LEONG MING KIEN Jan 21, 2021 6:51AM ET
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As oppose to a "civil" war
Earl Steve
Earl Steve Jan 21, 2021 2:06AM ET
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"Kamala Harris, the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, became the first Black person, first woman and first Asian American to serve as vice president after she was sworn in by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court's first Latina member."  Rather than speaking of peoples qualifications only the media will bring up race, gender orientation and sexual prefaces.
John Tee John Tee
John Tee John Tee Jan 21, 2021 2:06AM ET
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I’m a racial minority make me president
Tenemos Avoir
Tenemos Avoir Jan 21, 2021 2:06AM ET
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Since the Inauguration Antifa has already said some very unkind things about Joe Biden in Portland.
Gary SKY saw
Gary SKY saw Jan 21, 2021 2:06AM ET
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Which American is the origin in this soil.. Beside native American???? Please go back to your roots..
Kristo ivanov
Kristo ivanov Jan 21, 2021 1:51AM ET
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hi FC $$$
Ryan Hardin
Ryan Hardin Jan 21, 2021 1:10AM ET
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Do people ever get tired of commenting? Everyone seems so stu.pid.
Brad Dover
Brad Dover Jan 21, 2021 12:58AM ET
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Thank God we have a normal person again a true patriot and not an evil conman  Biden has done more in his first day than trump has done in 4 years to help this nation
Anthony Badalamenti
Anthony Badalamenti Jan 21, 2021 12:58AM ET
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What a buffoon!!
Tom Tankins
Tom Tankins Jan 21, 2021 12:34AM ET
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MAGA = the Ryan Leaf of philosophies
Tom Tankins
Tom Tankins Jan 21, 2021 12:34AM ET
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muddle around various teams for FOUR years, with a 48% completion percentage, then promptly sent to jail after your career is over. sound familiar??
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Jan 20, 2021 9:50PM ET
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Goodbye trumpanzees and russian trolls. You lost
Gershom Zvi
Gershom Zvi Jan 20, 2021 6:53PM ET
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No matter who president age limitation no older than 69 years a must !!!
Special Forces
Special Forces Jan 20, 2021 6:34PM ET
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One of my trump memories, A President that degraded our POWs and Patriots that gave their lives for our country, and his followers condoned this behavior.
joe balone
joe balone Jan 20, 2021 6:34PM ET
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What he did for VA care was unthinkable before he actually did it.
Special Forces
Special Forces Jan 20, 2021 6:34PM ET
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The media is the media, how do you address trumps televised statements on POW John McCain's capture as he puts it?
Gershom Zvi
Gershom Zvi Jan 20, 2021 6:20PM ET
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Ordinary person wont be remembered even in a few months but Trump left a great chapter in the history he will be rememered for thousands years
Jeff Chevalier
Jeff Chevalier Jan 20, 2021 6:20PM ET
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Kind of like Nero fiddling while Rome burned. Everyone knows that story...
Gershom Zvi
Gershom Zvi Jan 20, 2021 6:11PM ET
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Next year New young President -Kamalla Harris
Saroop Calvete
Saroop Calvete Jan 20, 2021 1:50PM ET
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Trump is no longer President, now he became a LEGEND!
Ad Cline
Ad Cline Jan 20, 2021 1:50PM ET
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no Trump will be a convict at a high security federal prison..
Alan Rice
Alan Rice Jan 20, 2021 1:50PM ET
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English ??
Gershom Zvi
Gershom Zvi Jan 20, 2021 1:50PM ET
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At least but he left a great chapter in history of Mankind ! Everyone leaving the world nobody will remember him / her in a few months but not him !!!
maro turk
maro turk Jan 20, 2021 1:50PM ET
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So nazis didOur followers will ******** on him
James Pattison
James Pattison Jan 20, 2021 11:39AM ET
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Americans deserve fair and free elections...
Vv Pp
Vv Pp Jan 20, 2021 11:39AM ET
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dear you don't even know what socialism means, don't embarrass yourself more
Ad Cline
Ad Cline Jan 20, 2021 11:39AM ET
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Amit Patel Aamita yes so many red states are guilty of institutionaling. voter suppression.
stanley shalala
stanley shalala Jan 20, 2021 11:32AM ET
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Biden! Biden! Biden!
Gary SKY saw
Gary SKY saw Jan 20, 2021 11:22AM ET
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Trump now become terminator.. I will be back.. Watch to much Holywood movies....disgrace to highest order..
Chris Vu
Chris Vu Jan 20, 2021 11:14AM ET
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Caravans welcome! Feel free to avail yourselves of our social benefits.
Ad Cline
Ad Cline Jan 20, 2021 11:14AM ET
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well Chris is it some mis guiding form of jealousy, or is it just good old fashion bigotry.
Clinton Powell
Clinton Powell Jan 20, 2021 11:14AM ET
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Ad Cline Its called loving our country, fake name *****
Chris Vu
Chris Vu Jan 20, 2021 11:10AM ET
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Trump's message in the note said: "How much do you charge for a pardon?"
David Arndt
David Arndt Jan 20, 2021 11:03AM ET
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The party of "firsts" just elected the 45th white guy to hold the office of POTUS. C'mon, Man!
rmdebla smith
rmdebla smith Jan 20, 2021 10:43AM ET
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50yrs  of service.Wow.  Trump:  Couldn't  get four good ones in and celebrated  a loss with a mobbing of the capitol.  Yeah.  The  Republican party  proper REALLY wants him around.
Rod Quasney
Rod Quasney Jan 20, 2021 10:43AM ET
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50 years and never accomplished anything. 🎯👨‍🎓
Saroop Calvete
Saroop Calvete Jan 20, 2021 10:43AM ET
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50 years of milking interest groups and corporate oligarchs.
Ad Cline
Ad Cline Jan 20, 2021 10:43AM ET
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rod... Biden was senator not a dictator. you are apparently ignorant of how our political system works. maybe you need to be taught a lesson in American Democracy and how it works.
Ad Cline
Ad Cline Jan 20, 2021 10:43AM ET
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I know China andRussia will be getting that lesson, and soon.
Nison Kay
Nison Kay Jan 20, 2021 10:43AM ET
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service?? you joking right. that sc_um was stealing tax payers money for 50 years only to profit himself and his family. total mob boss biden.
stanley shalala
stanley shalala Jan 20, 2021 10:36AM ET
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Trump and his fans are sc*m.
Eudon Hickey
Eudon Hickey Jan 20, 2021 10:36AM ET
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Jealousy makes you nasty, is that not what they say?
Saroop Calvete
Saroop Calvete Jan 20, 2021 10:36AM ET
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Obama and his fans are  a bunch of fudge-packers.
Anthony Badalamenti
Anthony Badalamenti Jan 20, 2021 10:36AM ET
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Stanley needs to take the needle out of his arm
Trumpster Rocks
Trumpster Rocks Jan 20, 2021 10:34AM ET
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Reuters is so left wing biased,lol. Now they are making statements as truth ? We all KNOW the election was stolen and so does Reuters but they still push this narrative? The Left can not tell the truth because they are all about the Dark One(Devil).
Chris Man
Chris Man Jan 20, 2021 10:34AM ET
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Proof? Sources? Sorry, I graduated with a STEM degree, so I won't accept redneck, mountain man/swamp person news sites as a credible source.
Ad Cline
Ad Cline Jan 20, 2021 10:34AM ET
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lets see .( evil actions).trump brags about grabbing women by the *** used a program of cruelty with asylum seekers, caging small children, fostering intolerance and hate. instigated an insurrection and coup against American Democracy. Trump becoming a national. security threat; siding with despots, like the oppressor and dictator of the Russian people the ******Putin. tRump has shown himself to be an incompetent loser.
Ad Cline
Ad Cline Jan 20, 2021 10:34AM ET
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trumpeter...we all know what you are
Nison Kay
Nison Kay Jan 20, 2021 10:34AM ET
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it's called liberal elitest s_um.they wouldn't know TRUTH if it hit em in the head
Ron Cole
Ron Cole Jan 20, 2021 10:34AM ET
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Wow! Lay off the Leftist Cool-Aid!
stanley shalala
stanley shalala Jan 20, 2021 10:34AM ET
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👋👋Trump
James Pattison
James Pattison Jan 20, 2021 10:20AM ET
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His own party will take him out in mere moments
 
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