Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are on wednesday as president and vice president of the United States. An investiture ceremony that will take place in exceptional conditions, due to the pandemic and fears of demonstrations of violence by the most virulent supporters of the outgoing president.
It is in a deserted capital that the 46th president of the United States will be sworn in. The streets of downtown Washington are barricaded, bristling with concrete blocks and metal barriers. The huge lawn on which Americans usually flock to greet their new head of state is off-limits to the public: thousands of small flags have been planted there to show the presence of the American people.
Across federal buildings, National Guard soldiers patrol. Twenty-five thousand reservists are involved in the operations. According to CNN, 12 of them were removed from the footage on Wednesday: the FBI, which sifted through the profiles of men from across the country to ensure the security of the ceremony, found their profile disturbing enough to remove them. The federal police fear threats from “inside” that come from members of the security forces deployed to ensure the security of the ceremony.
A limited number of guests
The president-elect is Catholic, and will begin this historic day with a mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, with the most senior members of congress. It’s a tradition. Joe Biden, his wife, Kamala Harris and her husband, will then join the western flank of the Capitol, where a platform has been erected, protected by high Plexiglas walls. Taken by Donald Trump’s supporters on January 6, it was promptly restored. The investiture ceremony will be attended by a limited number of hand-picked guests. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in at noon local time. Singer Lady Gaga will then sing the American national anthem. Joe Biden will deliver his first presidential speech: he should – as he has done since the beginning of his campaign – talk about the need to unite the nation, but also affirm his desire to “beat the coronavirus pandemic, rebuild better, and heal the nation,” according to the organizing committee.
At the end of the ceremony, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, accompanied by former Presidents Barack Obama, George Bush and Bill Clinton (and their wives), will visit Arlington Cemetery, across the Potomac, laying a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier. The president will finally enter the White House, deserted in the morning by Donald Trump. Joe Biden will be walking the last few meters. There will be no festivities in the evening, the traditional ball has been cancelled due to the pandemic, but Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will address the nation during a special televised evening, hosted by comedian Tom Hanks, and with many American stars. Entitled “To Celebrate America,” it will conclude a day in which popular jubilation has been singularly absent. It will be rebroadcast by all major U.S. channels.