The inauguration of Joe Biden

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 12:42 a.m. ET, January 21, 2021
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8:24 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Trump has left the White House for the last time as President

President Donald Trump waves as he boards Marine One at the White House on January 20.
President Donald Trump waves as he boards Marine One at the White House on January 20. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump just walked out of the White House. He's on his way to Joint Base Andrews, where he's expected to have a short farewell ceremony at the base before one last presidential flight to Palm Beach.

Trump is scheduled to deliver remarks at a send-off ceremony at the base.

Watch the moment Trump leaves the White House:

8:12 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Pence said his goodbyes to Trump on Tuesday and will not be at Trump's send-off ceremonies

From CNN's Pamela Brown

A source close to Vice President Mike Pence said he said his final goodbye to President Trump yesterday and is not expected to be at the White House this morning as Trump departs. 

He's also not expected to attend the ceremony at Joint Base Andrews before Trump departs for Florida.

Once the inauguration of Joe Biden concludes today, Pence will fly to Indiana and then will be back and forth between Indiana and DC. 

7:58 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

With his early Washington departure, Trump gets one final ride with Air Force One designation

From CNN's Pete Muntean and Greg Wallace

By breaking with tradition and leaving Washington while still president, Trump’s final military flight this morning is expected to carry the designation “Air Force One.”  

It is typical for outgoing presidents to depart Washington on one of the airplanes maintained by the 89th Airlift Wing of the Air Force and typically known as Air Force One. The new president typically offers this as a courtesy to his predecessor.  

But it is not typical for that final flights to be officially called Marine One and Air Force One since those craft only have those names when the President is on them.  

The helicopter flight for the outgoing president typically becomes known as Executive One.

And the airplane flight is usually called a Special Air Mission. Trump’s predecessor, 44th President Barack Obama, left town on a flight officially known as Special Air Mission 44.  

But Trump’s early departure from the White House means he’ll still be president for the entirety of his flight to Florida.  

There will be an aviation change around Trump’s Mar-a-Lago compound in Florida. The airspace restriction above the facility will shrink from 30 miles to just three. 

8:07 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Melania Trump outsourced writing her own thank you notes to the White House residence staff

From CNN's Kate Bennett

First lady Melania Trump attends an event at the White House on November 24, 2020.
First lady Melania Trump attends an event at the White House on November 24, 2020. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

First lady Melania Trump did not write her own "thank you" notes to the White House residence staff who have cared for her and her family for the last for years, according to two sources with knowledge of the notes and Trump's handling of them.

The 80 or so staff who received the type written notes were under the assumption the first lady had written them herself. Instead, Trump tasked a lower-level East Wing staffer with writing them "in her voice," and she signed her name. 

Several sources familiar with Trump's activities, or lack thereof in recent weeks, have described the first lady as being "checked out," that she "just wants to go home," and is "not sad to be leaving" Washington and the White House.

One of the sources discussing the "thank you" notes with CNN said it is customary for first ladies – and occasionally presidents as well – to write cards or short letters of gratitude to members of household staff, especially the ones whom they get to know extremely well. Much of the correspondence includes personal anecdotes and the letters become "cherished keepsakes" for the residence staff, says the source.

The butlers, cooks, housekeepers, ushers and maintenance workers do not typically turn over with each administration and many have been working at the White House for a decade or more

Melania Trump will be exiting the White House with the lowest favorability rating of her tenure as first lady, according to a new CNN poll.

At 47%, more people have an unfavorable view of the first lady now than at any point since CNN first asked about views of her in February 2016. The poll, conducted by SSRS for CNN, puts Trump's favorable rating at 42%, with 12% of those asked answering they are unsure of their feelings about the first lady.

1:11 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic will be Biden's top priority, incoming White House press secretary says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

The coronavirus pandemic will be President-elect Joe Biden's top priority after he is sworn in later today, the incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki told CNN.

“Hundreds of thousands of Americans, obviously, have lost their lives, but many more millions have lost their jobs. And these are two intertwined crises,” she said. “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,” she said. 

Biden is expected to sign a slate of executive actions, including ones around the pandemic, after he is sworn in. However, Psaki cautioned that it could take “several months until we’re really seeing progress.”

“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,” she added.

Americans shouldn’t expect to hear about Trump in Biden’s inaugural speech, Psaki said.

“We spend 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,” she said. “So he's going to talk about the problems we're facing, the resolve of the public to come together, the power of coming together and unifying.”

Incoming White House press secretary speaks with CNN:

7:40 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Trump expected to leave the White House soon

Preparations are made at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland for the departure President Donald Trump on January 20.
Preparations are made at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland for the departure President Donald Trump on January 20. Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump is expected to leave the White House soon to make his way to Joint Base Andrews.

Eager for a final taste of the pomp of being president, he's expected to have a short farewell ceremony before one last presidential flight to Palm Beach.

Trump hasn't left the White House or been seen in public for a week. On Monday evening he taped a final message from the Blue Room of the White House, ticking through several achievements that he believes should define his administration. He released that video Tuesday afternoon, followed by a raft of 11th-hour pardons and commutations released early Wednesday morning. The batch of 73 pardons and 70 commutations issued in the final hours of his presidency included Steve Bannon and Lil Wayne.

Trump is scheduled to deliver remarks this morning before his final departure from Joint Base Andrews. Invitations have gone out to Trump's friends, allies and former administration officials saying it will begin at 8 a.m. ET. Each invitee is allowed five guests; organizers hope to secure a large crowd because Trump has complained about the size of his gatherings in the past.

In a sign the guest list may not have been carefully curated, Trump's former communications director turned critic, Anthony Scaramucci, was invited to the departure. He told CNN he did not plan to attend, but saw his invitation as a sign the White House was eager to bulk up the guest list.

Trump will be in Florida when President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are sworn in at noon, at which point he will no longer be president.

7:43 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Trump believes Bannon can help lead some kind of political comeback, senior adviser said

From CNN's Jim Acosta

Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist, exits the Manhattan Federal Court in New York on August 20, 2020.
Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist, exits the Manhattan Federal Court in New York on August 20, 2020. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

President Trump issued a raft of 11th-hour pardons and commutations early Wednesday that included his onetime political strategist, a former top fundraiser and two well-known rappers but not himself or his family.

The batch of 73 pardons and 70 commutations issued in the final hours of his presidency was expected, and is in keeping with a long-standing presidential tradition of exercising clemency powers at the last minute.

But several controversial names do appear, including Steve Bannon, who has pleaded not guilty to charges he defrauded donors in a "We Build the Wall" online fundraising campaign.

Trump had spent the past days deliberating over a pardon for the man who helped him win the presidency in 2016 and followed him to the White House.

A senior Trump adviser said part of the motivation for the President to issue a pardon for Bannon is that he believes his former chief strategist can help lead a political comeback for President Trump. The outgoing President has discussed the idea of another run in 2024. Though some advisers have dismissed the idea as Trump is now leaving office in disgrace. Trump also saw Bannon as one of the few remaining high profile conservatives to back the president all the way to the bitter end. 

As for their relationship, once fractured after Bannon was fired following Charlottesville, the adviser said, “they made up.”

7:28 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Here's a look at some of the executive orders Biden is expected to sign today

From CNN’s Sarah Mucha

After he is sworn in today as the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden is expected to sign a slate of executive actions in the Oval Office, fulfilling a campaign promise to act on a wide range of issues on day one. 

Here's a look at some of the actions we're expecting: 

On the Covid-19 pandemic:

  • Biden will enact a “100 Days Masking Challenge,” asking Americans to wear a mask for 100 days and signing a national mask mandate, requiring masks in all federal buildings and federal lands.  
  • He will stop the United States’ withdrawal from the World Health Organization.
  • Biden will create the position of “COVID-19 Response Coordinator” through executive action. This is a role that that will report directly to the President. 
  • Biden will restore the National Security Council’s Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense.    

On the economy:

  • Biden will issue an executive order asking the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to extend the moratorium on evictions until at least March 31. 
  • Ask the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Agriculture and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to extend foreclosure moratoriums for federally guaranteed mortgages and continuing applications for forbearance for federally guaranteed mortgages until March 31.
  • Ask Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to extend foreclosure moratoriums until March 31.  

On the climate crisis:

  • Biden will rejoin the Paris Agreement, singing a notice that will be sent to the United Nations later today. The United States will officially become party to the agreement in 30 days.  
  • He will sign a broad executive order that will direct agencies to review emissions standards, take action on any regulations imposed during the Trump administration that are deemed ‘harmful,’ and place a temporary moratorium on oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  
  • Biden will re-establish the Interagency Working Group the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases. 
  • He will revoke permits over the last four years that "do not serve the US national interest," including a presidential permit granted to the Keystone XL pipeline.  

On racial equity:

  • Biden will issue an executive order instructing agencies to conduct a baseline review of systemic inequities in their programs and policies and to deliver action plans to reverse these findings. 
  • As part of a broader executive order, Biden will rescind the 1776 Commission.
  • He will overturn President Trump’s executive order to limit federal government contractors and agencies from implementing diversity training.  
  • He will rescind President Trump’s orders excluding non-citizens from the US Census.  

On immigration:

  • Incoming National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan outlined the administration’s immigration policies while noting that Biden intends to begin work immediately to address the broader root causes of failed immigration policy. 
  • On DACA, Biden will sign a Presidential Memorandum directing the Department of Homeland Security to take ‘appropriate actions’ to preserve and fortify DACA.  
  • He will overturn the executive order ending the travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries.  
  • He will sign a memorandum to extend Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians until June 30, 2022.  
  • He will also sign an order ensures that the federal government interprets Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  
  • Biden will declare an immediate pause in border wall construction. This includes finding a way to redirect funds that were funneled into the building of the wall by the Trump administration.   

7:29 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

This is what Biden and Harris' first day in office will look like

From CNN's Sarah Mucha

The White House is pictured on January 20.
The White House is pictured on January 20. Maddie McGarvey for CNN

Last night the Biden-Harris transition team released the daily schedule for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' first day in office.

It includes the signing of multiple executive orders and a 7 p.m. ET White House press briefing from press secretary Jen Psaki.

Biden will also swear in "day one presidential appointees" in a virtual ceremony, according to a news release. 

Here's a look at Wednesday's schedule:

  • 8:45 a.m. ET: Biden, Harris and their spouses attend a church service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.
  • Noon: Biden and Harris are sworn in.
  • 2:25 p.m. ET: Biden and Harris visit the Tomb of the Unknown Solider at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
  • 5:15 p.m. ET: Biden signs executive orders and other presidential actions.
  • 5:45 p.m. ET: Biden swears in presidential appointees in a virtual ceremony.
  • 8:48 p.m. ET: Biden and Harris deliver remarks at the “Celebrating America” inaugural program.