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History: Jan. 21, 2021

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Donald J. Trump’s presidency ended at precisely 12:32 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Jan. 21, when Joseph Robinette Biden was sworn in on the western steps of the Capitol by Chief Justice John Roberts as the 46th President of the United States.

A crowd of some 250,000 people, nearly all of them wearing face masks, heard the new President deliver his Inaugural Address. As Roberts looked on, Biden placed his right hand on his family Bible and formally took the oath of office: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God.”

In his 14-minute address, brief by historical standards, Biden echoed past Presidents. He declared that “Our national nightmare of the last four years is over.” He spoke directly to the American people. “You have endured much that was nearly unendurable. You have been put to the test by disgrace, lies, obstruction and treason coming from the highest office in the land. You have proven, by the results of the last election, that you never lost sight of decency, of American values. You have risen above the divisiveness of the last four years to restore civility and the norms of a moral culture to our country.”

The crowd cheered him on. In its front ranks were the members of the new Congress. Fifty-nine Democrats now fill the Senate; swept from office in the Blue Wave were such Republican stalwarts as Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Martha McSally of Arizona, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, Joni Ernst of Iowa, and, in the election’s biggest surprise after capturing the presidency itself, the former Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky.

In the House of Representatives, Democrats increased their majority by 36 seats, to 269, an absolute majority compared to the Republican’s 165. (There is one Libertarian congressman.) In State and local elections, Democrats won 38 of the nation’s 50 Governorships, and took back numerous State legislatures. The size of the Blue Wave was described by Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin as “breathtaking and unprecedented.” Referring to the vanishing role of the Republican Party in American politics, Kearns added, “What we’re seeing is the disappearance of the Whigs, in the 21st century.”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, following the inauguration, told the Associated Press that Democrats “plan immediately to begin a long-prepared series of investigations into the criminal, illegal and immoral behaviors of the former President, and of many of his associates and enablers.” Beyond Congressional inquiries, former President Trump faces a barrage of civil and criminal lawsuits in multiple jurisdictions, for such alleged crimes as bribery, tax dodging, campaign finance violations, paying hush money to his mistresses, colluding with foreign powers, and lying on his tax forms. Trump was forced to release his taxes last month, after the U.S. Supreme Court mandated it.

The former President, who did not attend Biden’s inauguration due to an undisclosed illness, is said to be despondent at his loss and the size of the GOP debacle. Sources close to the Trump family said he is “resting” at his Mar-a-Lago estate and planning his next moves, which are said to be related to the entertainment business. Speculation has long been that he might start a radio or television talk show, possibly on the Sinclair Network or possibly on a new network of his own.

President Biden immediately got to work, arriving in the Oval Office within two hours after his swearing in and issuing a series of Executive Orders. One of them expands the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, to transgendered Americans. A second censures the Russian federation for “Repeated attempts to interfere with American elections, and to murder American military personnel overseas.” A third order calls for Deutsche Bank to turn over all records of transactions by members of the Trump family: his daughter, Ivanka, his sons Eric and Donald, Jr. and his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

A fourth executive order declares Jan. 21 of every year a new national holiday as a celebration of the end of the Trump era.

Many of the overflow crowd witnessing the inauguration wept openly. “I thank God the American people threw out the rubbish,” said Minnie Albertson, who had driven 300 miles with her family from Indianapolis. Arthur Beaufort, who lives in Washington, had tears streaming down his cheeks. “This begins the long, slow process of healing,” he declared, adding, “We won’t ever have to see his [Trump’s] face or hear his voice again.” Many in the audience expressed a desire to see the former President behind bars. “Send him to Gitmo [Guantanamo Bay],” said William Hamilton, who identified himself as a retired Colonel in the Army. “For this rest of his unnatural life.”

Across the country, crowds gathered in public squares to celebrate the nation’s new President and the end of the old President. From New York to Seattle, Boston to Phoenix, Miami to San Francisco, an estimated fifteen million people took to the streets, singing the National Anthem, setting off fireworks and proudly waving American flags. Smaller minorities in primarily Republican districts were notably upset. “Trump will be back,” said Horace “Red” McMahon, a self-described “warrior-patriot” and leader of a militia group in Dearborn, Michigan. He was dressed in camouflage fatigues, open-carrying an AK-47 assault rifle in front of City Hall. In an ominous prediction, McMahon said there are “tens of millions of us, and we’re not going to let the Demon-crats and Muslims steal our precious liberties.” When he spoke those words, an egg flung by someone in the crowd struck McMahon in the face. The Biden presidency had begun.


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