Thursday morning news – January 21, 2021


Biden gets to work after smooth inauguration » President Joe Biden woke up this morning in the White House, ready for his first full day on the job. 

His inauguration went smoothly on Wednesday—no security issues or disruptions. He took the oath of office right around noon Eastern Time, Chief Justice John Roberts administering: 

ROBERTS: Preserve, protect, and defend – BIDEN: Preserve, protect, and defend
ROBERTS: The Constitution of the United States -BIDEN: The Constitution of the United States
ROBERTS: So help you God? – BIDEN: So help me God
ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President. (cheers)

The president declared that “democracy has prevailed,” as he was sworn in front of the U.S. Capitol, two weeks after rioters laid siege to the building. 

BIDEN: We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative against liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts. 

COVID-19 precautions limited the audience to a small faction of a typical inauguration crowd.

Biden led attendees in a moment of silence for the roughly 400,000 Americans lost to the virus and called for renewed resolve to fight the pandemic. 

BIDEN: We must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation, one nation! And I promise you this, as the Bible says, weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning. We will get through this together. 

The celebration wasn’t quite the same in the middle of the pandemic, but pop star Lady Gaga was on hand to perform the Star-Spangled Banner. 

And country music icon Garth Brooks sang Amazing Grace. 

Biden signs 17 executive orders on day one » As promised, President Biden wasted no time getting to work on his agenda Wednesday. Immediately after settling into the White House, he signed a series of executive orders. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: President Biden wore a mask in the Oval Office Wednesday, seated at the Resolute Desk behind a stack of orders. 

He signed a total of 17 orders on day one. Among them, an order mandating masks on all federal property. He also signed an order rejoining the Paris climate accord. Another extends moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures, and an order pausing student loan repayments.”

While his predecessor did not attend Biden’s inauguration, he did follow through on one tradition—leaving behind a letter.

President Biden said Trump “wrote a very generous letter.” But he said he would not reveal its contents until he had a chance to speak with Trump.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown. 

Trump skips inauguration, receives sendoff en route to South Florida » As the nation’s leaders gathered at the Capitol Wednesday morning, President Trump departed for his new home in South Florida. 

A short time before Biden took the oath of office, President Trump arrived at Joint Base Andrews for a brief send off ceremony. 

And speaking to a small crowd, the president delivered one final address on the tarmac. He again wished the incoming administration well, and highlighted accomplishments of the last four years—including tax cuts, a partial overhaul of federal courts, and investments in national defense. 

TRUMP: We rebuilt the United States military. We created a new force called Space Force.

The president then one final time boarded Air Force One. The song playing on loudspeakers as he departed: Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”

MUSIC: FRANK SINATRA, MY WAY

About two hours later, he arrived in Palm Beach, Florida. Supporters lined the streets as Trump’s final presidential motorcade taxied him to his Mar-a-Lago resort. He arrived home just minutes before Biden was sworn in as president. 

Trump issues final pardons, clemency actions » In his final 24 hours hours as president, Trump issued a flurry of pardons and clemency actions. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: President Trump extended pardons or clemency to more than a hundred people early Wednesday morning. 

Among them, his former chief strategist Steve Bannon. Prosecutors accused him of misusing cash from a border wall fundraising effort. 

He also pardoned Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy. He pleaded guilty last fall in a lobbying scheme. Another on the list was Ken Kurson, a friend of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. He was charged with cyberstalking during a heated divorce.

But his final list of pardons was mostly full of more conventional candidates, many of them championed by criminal justice activists. 

Trump commuted the sentence of a man who spent more than two decades in prison on drug and weapons charges, but had shown exemplary behavior behind bars. He did the same for a former Marine sentenced in 2000 following a cocaine conviction.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Powerful winds wreak havoc in Calif. » Powerful winds have wreaked havoc this week in California. 

The winds blew months-old embers from a deadly wildfire back to life and fanned other fires up and down the state. The wind and flames also prompted safety blackouts to tens of thousands of people.

And Eric Sherwin with the San Bernardino County Fire Dept. urged drivers to watch out, warning that wind gusts could be strong enough to topple tractor trailers. 

SHERWIN: For our eastbound and northbound traffic, they tend to rollover onto the shoulder. However, our westbound trucks and our southbound trucks do tend, when they roll over they roll over into traffic lanes. So give these truck drivers a wide berth!

Don Mandy lives in Bass Lake, just north of Fresno. Strong winds knocked a 100-foot-tall pine tree onto his house.  

MANDY: Sounded like an earthquake. The house just did like this—bump-boomp!—and then I [SIC] whoa, that’s a tree! 

Gusts began Monday night, howling at speeds of nearly 100 mph in some areas.


(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool) President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk up the stairs as they arrive at the North Portico of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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