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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9:50 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

17 House GOP freshmen sent a letter to Biden committing to work with him

From CNN's Daniella Diaz and Annie Grayer

Republican Rep. Beth Van Duyne, who represents a Texas district where Democrats were competitive, led a letter to Joe Biden signed joined by 16 GOP House freshmen, saying they look forward to working with him.

"We firmly believe that what unites us as Americans is far greater than anything that may ever divide us," they wrote. "In that spirit, we hope that we can rise above the partisan fray to negotiate meaningful change for Americans across the nation and maintain the United States’ standing as the best country in the world."

Some of the representatives who signed onto the letter include Madison Cawthorn, Barry Moore, Burgess Owens, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Peter Meijer, Ashley Hinson and Carlos A. Gimenez.

"The constituencies we represent showcase the variety of thought across our great nation," the letter said. "Americans are tired of the partisan gridlock and simply want to see leaders from both sides of the aisle work on issues important to American families, workers, and businesses," it added.

CNN's Manu Raju reports from Capitol Hill:

9:30 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Trump repeated false claims and exaggerations in his final speech as President

From CNN's Daniel Dale

President Donald Trump made false claims from the first hours of his presidency to the last.

In his final speech, Trump falsely claimed that he got “almost 300” judges confirmed. In fact, he got 234 total judges confirmed to the Supreme Court, district courts and appeals courts, according to figures from Brookings Institution visiting fellow Russell Wheeler.

Trump also claimed that his number of judicial confirmations is a “record-setting number.” In fact, President Jimmy Carter appointed 261 judges, according to Wheeler — 39% of the available judgeships at the time to 27% for Trump.

Trump, exaggerating as usual, rounded his 74.2 million votes in the 2020 presidential election to “75 million votes.” He boasted that he set a record for a sitting president, which is correct, but he did not acknowledge that Joe Biden got over 7 million more votes than he did. 

Trump also said he passed the largest tax cut in American history. This is not true either in inflation-adjusted dollars or as a share of the economy. 

Trump did not explicitly say, as he normally does, that he is the one who got the Veterans Choice health care program passed — but he nonetheless suggested he is responsible for the program, taking credit for the ability of veterans to get reimbursed by the government for treatment from doctors outside the VA system. That initially happened because of the Choice bill President Barack Obama signed into law in 2014, though Trump did sign a 2018 law that modified and expanded the Choice program.

9:33 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Joe Biden tweets: "It's a new day in America."

The sun rises as preparations are made at the Capitol on January 20.
The sun rises as preparations are made at the Capitol on January 20. Caroline Brehman/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden just sent his first tweet of Inauguration Day, moments after Donald Trump left the DC area for the final time as president.

9:25 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Jill Biden will wear female American designers

From CNN's Kate Bennett

As is customary and in line with the tradition of previous first ladies, Jill Biden will be making an Inaugural attire donation to the Smithsonian. 

Her Inauguration Day attire will be from female American designers, a personal familiar with the matter tells CNN. 

According to the Biden transition team, the President-elect is wearing a navy suit and navy overcoat, both by American designer Ralph Lauren. Jill Biden was wearing an ocean blue wool tweed coat and dress by emerging American designer Alexandra O'Neill of Markarian.

1:09 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Biden team asks current US surgeon general to step down

From CNN’s Ben Tinker

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams speaks in Washington, DC, on December 14, 2020.
US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams speaks in Washington, DC, on December 14, 2020. Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

In a tweet Wednesday morning, US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams confirmed reports the Biden team has asked him to resign.

"I've been asked by the Biden team to step down as Surgeon General. It's been the honor of my life to serve this Nation, and I will do all I can to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve and maintain health," Adams tweeted.

Asking Adams to resign represents a visible break by the Biden team with the Trump administration’s Covid response. Last month, President-elect Joe Biden announced he would nominate Dr. Vivek Murthy to be the next Surgeon General under his administration – a role Murthy held in the Obama administration.

It is unclear who will fill the job on an interim basis between the time Adams vacates the role and the time Murthy is confirmed by the Senate.

9:29 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Melania Trump left note for Jill Biden

From CNN's Kate Bennett

First lady Melania Trump speaks before boarding Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on January 20.
First lady Melania Trump speaks before boarding Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on January 20. Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images

Melania Trump left a "short note of welcome" for Jill Biden, a source familiar with the matter tells CNN. It's unclear where it was left or its exact contents.

President Trump also left a note for the President-elect, according to a person familiar with the matter.

9:24 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

National Military Command Center watching closely for any potential threats from adversaries

From CNN's Barbara Starr

Members of the National Guard walk from Union Station to the Capitol in Washington, DC, as events get under way for Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony on January 20.
Members of the National Guard walk from Union Station to the Capitol in Washington, DC, as events get under way for Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony on January 20. John Minchillo/AP

Military command centers around the world, including the National Military Command Center in the Pentagon basement will be monitoring intelligence around the world as they do around the clock every day, but watching closely any unexpected signs of threats as there is a transfer of power in Washington.

For several days, defense officials have said they see no unusual indications out of Iran or North Korea.

Last Friday, the Joint Chiefs of Staff held a final classified meeting in advance of the inauguration to review contingency plans in the event of a national security crisis at home or abroad on Inauguration Day, according to a source with direct knowledge. The meeting would have happened even without the insurrection, but that has been on the minds of the joint chiefs in the event adversaries would now see the US as vulnerable, the source said.

Military and defense officials this year will be in particular coordinating with federal law enforcement for any signs of domestic unrest from extremist groups.

Top Army and National Guard officials plan to be in constant touch with the FBI and Secret Service throughout the day to ensure National Guard forces in Washington, DC, are properly positioned and all information is shared and coordinated.     

1:09 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Families of Jacob Blake and Breonna Taylor say they will attend inauguration

From CNN’s Adrienne Broaddus 

When President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president, the inauguration audience won’t be the largest in history. But some families who made history will be among the crowd. 

Family members of Jacob Blake -- Jacob Blake Sr. and his brother, Justin Blake -- said they are in Washington, DC, with the aunt of Breonna Taylor for the inauguration of Biden and Vice-President elect Kamala Harris. The Blakes said they were required to test negative for Covid-19 before receiving credentials for Wednesday’s inauguration.

Justin Blake said they were invited when Biden and Harris learned the family was in Washington, DC. They are fighting to change policing in America and have taken their grievances to Washington. The Blakes believe Black voters helped propel the Biden-Harris ticket.

"It’s clear to us they understand what we did to help them get in office. They will live up to the promises, if not we will be making a fool of ourselves and our life," Justin Blake told CNN’s Adrienne Broaddus. "We believe these two individuals will make an important change in African decedents and their life."  

The younger Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times by police last year. The officers involved in that August shooting were cleared of all wrongdoing earlier this month. Blake survived the shooting but was left partially paralyzed. 

Breonna Taylor was killed by Louisville police officers in her apartment during a flawed forced-entry raid in March 2020.

The Louisville Metro Police Department fired two detectives connected to the shooting earlier this month.

On Tuesday, Biden showed empathy as he spoke about moving this nation forward and he once again revealed another level of common ground. He knows and understands pain. 

"It's hard sometimes to remember, but that's how we heal. It's important to do that as a nation," Biden said.

The Blake and Taylor families said healing also means action and policy changes. 

9:16 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Trump left a note for Biden

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Trump did leave a note for his successor, Joe Biden, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The contents of the note weren't immediately clear.

Some background: One of the modern Inauguration Day traditions for presidents leaving office is to write their successors a letter offering best wishes and advice. This is usually left on the Resolute Desk to read when the new president first enters the Oval Office.

You can read some of the letters outgoing Presidents left for their successors here.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports: