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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9:29 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:

9:09 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Trump has departed the DC area for the last time as President

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump board Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on January 20.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump board Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on January 20. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Air Force One, carrying President Trump and first Lady Melania Trump, just took off from Joint Base Andrews. They're on their way to Florida.

The plane took off as Frank Sinatra's "My Way" played over speakers.

While it is typical for outgoing presidents to depart Washington on one of the airplanes maintained by the 89th Airlift Wing of the Air Force, it is not typical for that final flight to be officially called Air Force One, since those craft only have those names when the President is on them.  

An outgoing president's final 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.  

Watch moment Air Force One departs:

8:58 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Trump rejected scripted remarks for this morning's final speech

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Aides had prepared a speech for the President this morning that included references to the incoming administration and included more gracious language about a peaceful transition, according to a person familiar with the matter.

But Trump discarded the speech, and teleprompters were removed from the stage before he arrived at Joint Base Andrews.

A person familiar with the matter said the decision was made after Trump read the remarks this morning at the White House.

1:10 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Trump didn't mention Biden by name in his final speech as President

President Trump and first Lady Melania Trump are about to leave Joint Base Andrews for Florida.

In his short, unscripted remarks, Trump thanked his family and vowed to "always fight."

“You are amazing people. This is a great, great country. It is my greatest honor and privilege to have been your President,” Trump said to a crowd of his family and staff. 

While he wished the next administration "great luck," but he did not mention President-elect Joe Biden by name.

In his last words before getting on the plane, Trump said: "Have a good life, we will see you soon."

9:31 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

The Bidens have arrived at church

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden attend mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, DC, with congressional leaders on January 20.
President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden attend mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, DC, with congressional leaders on January 20. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Moments after President Trump board Air Force One had his farewell ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, President-elect Joe Biden was seen departing Blair House along with his wife Jill Biden to go to church.

His motorcade just arrived at Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, DC, where he'll attend mass this morning with his family, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her family.

They will be joined by bipartisan congressional leaders. Father Kevin O'Brien will delivery the homily.

The Bidens attend Mass ahead of inauguration:

8:51 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Biden is attending a church service this morning. Here are key things to know about the tradition.

From CNN’s Ethan Cohen, Liz Stark and Adam Levy

Joe Biden, who will become only the second Catholic president, is attending a service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, DC, ahead of his Inauguration later today. 

Biden will be joined by all four congressional leaders, CNN reported, including Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.

Incoming presidents typically attend services on the morning of their inauguration, often at St. John’s Episcopal Church, a small church across Lafayette Square from the White House known as “The Church of the Presidents.” 

Since 1933, seven presidents – Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Truman, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Obama and Trump – attended morning services at St. John’s ahead of their public inaugurations, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies

FDR went to St. John’s before three of his inaugurations; for his fourth, in 1945, FDR attended a private service at the White House.

St. John’s was back in the news in 2020 as the backdrop of Trump’s infamous Bible photo op.

About the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle: The cathedral, the Mother Church of the archdiocese of Washington, is named for Saint Matthew the Apostle, the patron saint of civil servants, according to the cathedral’s website.

St. Matthew’s has been the site of several historical events, including the funeral Mass for President John F. Kennedy on November 25, 1963. Funerals for Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court William Rehnquist and Associate Justice William J. Brennan were also held there.

Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis have all visited St. Matthew’s, as well.

The cathedral also traditionally hosts an annual celebration called the “Red Mass” on the Sunday prior to the beginning of the Supreme Court’s regular October term, where Supreme Court justices, members of Congress and government leaders are invited to attend the special service.