Biden prepares for inauguration on Trump's last full day in office

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

Updated 0638 GMT (1438 HKT) January 20, 2021
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1:50 p.m. ET, January 19, 2021

Pence not expected to attend Trump's departure ceremony tomorrow, sources say

From CNN's Jim Acosta

Megan Varner/Getty Images
Megan Varner/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence is not expected to attend President Trump's departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, according to two Pence sources. 

Logistically, the sources said it would be difficult for Pence to be at Joint Base Andrews for Trump's sendoff and attend President-elect Joe Biden's inaugural, as the outgoing vice president is expected to do. 

Trump will depart the White House South Lawn via Marine One for Joint Base Andrews early tomorrow morning, giving Pence a chance to bid farewell to the President then. 

More on Trump's departure: Trump is scheduled to deliver remarks before his final departure from Joint Base Andrews, where a military-style ceremony is being planned.

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.

1:26 p.m. ET, January 19, 2021

Yellen: US needs to "seriously" look at risks to financial system from climate change

From CNN's Kate Trafecante 

Janet Yellen speaks during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on January 19.
Janet Yellen speaks during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on January 19. Pool

Janet Yellen, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to head the Treasury Department, told lawmakers the United States needs to "seriously look at assessing the risks to the financial system from climate change." 

Yellen said she takes those risks "very, very seriously," adding that both the impact of climate change itself and the policies to address it "could have major impacts creating stranded assets, generating large changes in asset prices, credit risks, and so forth that could affect the financial system."

Yellen said that, if confirmed as Treasury Secretary, she plans to create a hub within Treasury in which focusing on "financial system-related risks and tax policy incentives" in respect to climate change. 

1:16 p.m. ET, January 19, 2021

Biden announces creation of White House Gender Policy Council

From CNN’s Sarah Mucha

The transition announced on Tuesday that the Biden administration will have a White House Gender Policy Council, created specifically to "guide and coordinate government policy that impacts women and girls." 

The council mirrors to some extent the aims of the White House Council on Women and Girls, formed under former President Barack Obama, which was later disbanded under the Trump administration. 

The White House Gender Policy Council will be co-chaired by TIME'S UP officer Jennifer Klein and Julissa Reynoso, the incoming chief of staff to future first lady Jill Biden. 

1:14 p.m. ET, January 19, 2021

Trump agonizing over whether to give former chief strategist a pardon, source says

From CNN's Jim Acosta

A source close to discussions said President Trump has spent a lot of time agonizing over whether to give his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, a pardon.

This source said Trump felt Bannon was one of the few high-profile conservatives still defending the President until the very end.

"That's in his head," the source said, another sign that Trump and Bannon have more than patched up their relationship.

The President is expected to issue around 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, according to three people familiar with the matter. It will be a major batch of clemency actions that includes white collar criminals, high-profile rappers and others but – as of now – is not expected to include Trump himself.

1:16 p.m. ET, January 19, 2021

GOP senator says it's critical to move quickly on key Biden nomination

From CNN's Ali Zaslav and Hazel Mang 

Sen. Rob Portman speaks during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on January 19, in Washington, DC.
Sen. Rob Portman speaks during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on January 19, in Washington, DC. Joshua Roberts/Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, said he thinks it’s critical Congress expedited the Homeland Security secretary confirmation hearing "because the job is so important.. we have so many threats right now internal and external so I'm glad we were able to get started."

On the Senate impeachment trial, Portman said he doesn’t know what’s going to happen but said, "typically with impeachment that's all you can do, you know, during that period of time."

1:19 p.m. ET, January 19, 2021

Pelosi says focus is on inauguration right now when asked about impeachment timing

From CNN's Annie Grayer

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a press conference on January 15, in Washington, DC.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a press conference on January 15, in Washington, DC. Samuel Corum/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said her focus was on the inauguration when asked when the article of impeachment against President Trump would be sent over to the Senate.

“We’re doing the inauguration now,” Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday.

The Pool reports that Pelosi then headed into Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s corridor.

1:03 p.m. ET, January 19, 2021

Democratic senator says he expects bipartisan support in DNI nomination process

From CNN's Ali Zaslav and Hazel Mang

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, the incoming chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, weighed in on concerns about President-elect Joe Biden taking over without filled top intelligence positions.

He said he does not think the nomination process for the director of National Intelligence position will be slow-rolled, and expects bipartisan support. 

“I think clearly this has been a difficult transition. Unwillingness of the current White House to cooperate early on, challenges with Covid challenges post Jan. 6. But... I think my colleagues, at least on this committee... I don’t think they will slow roll this,” Warner said speaking about the DNI position after Avril Haines’ nomination hearing this afternoon.

The Virginia Democrat continued, “I think we'll want to try to maintain that bipartisan affording of making sure that President Biden has his team in place. As Chairman Rubio said our bad guys are not going to take time off just because we've got a transition and the threats that exist today will exist tomorrow as well and we need a team in place.”

He also said he “clearly” thinks President Trump’s comments incited the Capitol Hill riot and there is “plenty of evidence” available. But he will wait to hear the arguments in the trial before saying whether or not he would vote to acquit or convict the President.

“I want to listen to the presentation but I clearly think that the President’s comments inciting the insurrectionists, the value to our adversaries, the value to Vladimir Putin…I think there’s plenty of evidence.”

1:10 p.m. ET, January 19, 2021

Schumer says Senate will be in session after inauguration and he hopes to confirm Biden's Cabinet quickly

From CNN's Clare Foran

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a press conference in Washington, DC, on January 6.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a press conference in Washington, DC, on January 6. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer excoriated President Trump for inciting the Capitol attack and said he is looking forward to President-elect Joe Biden being sworn in tomorrow.

He said the Senate will be in session right after the inauguration, and that he hopes to confirm key administration officials quickly. 

Five of Biden's Cabinet nominees are facing Senate panels today in the first step of the confirmation process.

“The Senate will be in session tomorrow after the conclusion of the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States. With cooperation we can confirm key national security nominees at State, the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, Treasury and the Intelligence Community,” he said after saying that Biden needs to have key officials in place on day one of his administration.

“The way the Senate works it will take cooperation from our Republican colleagues to swiftly confirm these highly qualified national security officials, but make no mistake the Senate will move quickly to consider and confirm President Biden’s Cabinet," Schumer continued.

On the inauguration, Schumer said, “The country will turn the page on the most chaotic and divisive presidency that can ever be remembered.”

“Rioters, insurrectionists, white supremacists and domestic terrorist tried to prevent the transfer of power. They were incited by none other than the President of the United States. They have failed.” He went on to say, “despite what these evil terrorists tried to do, the peaceful passing of the torch will take place tomorrow as it has for generations.”

Schumer said that in the weeks to come, the Senate must accomplish “three essential items”: “A second impeachment trial of Donald Trump, the confirmation of President Biden’s cabinet and other key officials and legislation to provide much-needed, almost desperately needed Covid relief.”

On Trump’s impeachment trial, Schumer said, “We need to set a precedent that the severest offense ever committed by a President will be met by the severest remedy provided by the Constitution. Impeachment and conviction by this chamber as well as disbarment from future office.”

12:49 p.m. ET, January 19, 2021

Current and former officials who've been critical of Trump have been invited to his send-off

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Jim Acosta, Kevin Liptak, and Kate Bennett

Dozens of current and former administration officials have been invited to President Trump's farewell ceremony tomorrow, including those who have been extremely critical of Trump since leaving the White House.

Trump's former chief of staff John Kelly recently told CNN's Jake Tapper he'd vote to remove Trump from office if he could — yet he was still invited to the event.

So was Don McGahn, the former White House counsel who angered Trump by sitting down with Robert Mueller's team for hours. Other former senior aides who have maintained good relationships with Trump, like his first chief of staff Reince Priebus, were also invited but aren't expected to attend. Both Kelly and McGahn won't be attending, CNN reported earlier today.

Some are choosing not to go because attendees must arrive by 6 a.m. ET, while others have said they are staying away because the President is politically toxic right now given his role in inciting a mob that attacked the US Capitol.

The invitation was not limited to senior staff. Even junior aides who never personally interacted with Trump were also invited, according to a source familiar, in what appears to be an attempt to bulk up the guest list.

The White House declined to comment on the invitation process.