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The Latest: Biden goes to church before his inauguration

Latest News

President-elect Joe Biden speaks at the Major Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in New Castle, Del. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration (all times local):

8:35 a.m.
President-elect Joe Biden is attending church ahead of his inauguration, a traditional step taken ahead of the swearing-in ceremony.
Biden and incoming first lady Jill Biden on Wednesday are attending a service at Washington’s Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.

With them are incoming Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff.

At Biden’s invitation, the first couple is joined by a bipartisan group of members of Congress, including all four top-ranking members of congressional leadership.

That includes both Senate leaders, Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat Chuck Schumer, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Many presidents have chosen St. John’s Episcopal Church, sometimes called “Church of the Presidents,” for the inaugural day service.

Biden is the second Catholic U.S. president, and St. Matthew’s is the seat of the Catholic archbishop of Washington.

Biden spent Tuesday night at Blair House, a traditional move ahead of a president’s inauguration.
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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT JOE BIDEN’S INAUGURATION AS THE 46TH U.S. PRESIDENT:
Joe Biden swears the oath of office at noon Wednesday to become the 46th president of the United States, taking the helm of a deeply divided nation and inheriting a confluence of crises arguably greater than any faced by his predecessors.

Read more:
— On Day One, Biden to undo Trump policies on climate, virus
— Biden’s first act: Orders on pandemic, climate, immigration
— Biden charts new US direction, promises many Trump reversals
— DC on lockdown and on edge before Biden’s inauguration
— Vice President Harris: A new chapter opens in US politics
— Analysis: For Biden, chance to turn crisis into opportunity
— What to Watch: An inauguration unlike any other amid pandemic, unrest
— Trump pardons ex-strategist Steve Bannon, dozens of others
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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:

8:15 a.m.
Donald Trump has left the White House for the final time as president.

Trump emerged from the building Wednesday morning and strode across the South Lawn to board Marine One. He said, “It’s been a great honor, the honor of a lifetime.”

Trump now heads to Joint Base Andrews in suburban Maryland, where he’ll have a military sendoff. A red carpet has been placed on the tarmac for Trump to walk as he boards the plane. Four U.S. Army cannons are set up for a 21-gun salute. Trump then flies to Florida, where he’ll stay at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump is leaving Washington just hours before Joe Biden takes the oath of office as the 46th president. It’s the first time in more than a century that a sitting president has rejected the tradition of attending his successor’s inauguration.
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7:45 a.m.
Two of the Biden administration’s top communications officials are describing the incoming president’s inaugural address as a forward-looking speech that will make little to no mention of his predecessor.

Communications director Kate Bedingfield told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday that President-elect Joe Biden’s address would “speak to the moment that we are in, but it will also lay out a vision for the future.”

Biden press secretary Jen Psaki tells CNN that Biden’s inaugural address is “definitely not a speech about Donald Trump” and she “wouldn’t expect” to hear about him in it.

Bedingfield says Biden had not had any contact with the outgoing president.

Asked why Biden had invited political opponents including House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy to join him at a Mass on Wednesday morning, Psaki said it “felt important to him personally to have members of both parties … and use that as an example to the American public.”

Bedingfield says Biden will sign 15 executive orders in some of his first moves as president.
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7:35 a.m.
As the sun rose over Washington’s Freedom Plaza between the U.S. Capitol and the White House ahead of Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration, clusters of soldiers in full battle fatigues clustered inside metal barriers erected to restrict access to the procession route.

Some yellow placards on the barriers read “Biden-Harris 2021,” while others carried the seal of the presidency or inaugural insignias. American and District of Columbia flags flapped in high winds.

Traffic has been blocked off nearby in all directions. Revelers have been told to stay home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Most offices in the surrounding buildings are closed, many boarded up with plywood to prevent damage in case violence breaks out Wednesday.

But one tall office building in view of the procession route has been fitted with towering signs reading “Welcome, Mr. President” and “Welcome Madam Vice President,” for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

After being sworn in, Biden is set to inspect the readiness of military troops in a traditional “pass in review.”