US inauguration: Joe Biden becomes President, Donald Trump exits White House, Washington on high alert

Joe Biden has been inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States, succeeding Donald Trump as the most powerful man in the world.

Kamala Harris, the former California Senator, has made history by becoming the first female US vice-President. 

While three former Presidents attended the ceremony, as well as vice-President Mike Pence, Trump did not. He had already left Washington DC for Florida, telling supporters on his way out that "we will be back in some form". Trump was impeached last week for his role in inciting violence at the Capitol on January 6 and is awaiting his trial in the Senate.

Security has been amped up around Capitol Hill following that siege, with more than 25,000 National Guard members surrounding the historic monument and on the streets. The FBI has warned of armed groups planning protests across the nation, many angered by Trump's loss.

What you need to know:

  • Joe Biden has been inaugurated at the Capitol building making him the new President of the United States. Kamala Harris has also been sworn in as Vice-President.
  • Lady Gaga sang the national anthem at the inauguration event and Jennifer Lopez has also performed during the ceremony.
  • Donald Trump left the White House as President for the last time on Thursday. Flanked by his wife Melania, Trump spoke to reporters on the South Lawn before boarding Air Force One to head to Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. He said "we will be back in some form".
  • Biden swore in his presidential appointees in a virtual ceremony from the White House, vowing to "fire [them] on the spot" if they fail to treat their colleagues with respect.
  • Biden and members of both the Republican and Democratic parties attended a church service at the Cathedral of St Matthew the Apostle.
  • There have been reports that a bomb threat has been called into the Supreme Court. The grounds are being checked over, but no one is being evacuated.
  • In his final day in office, Trump granted a wave of pardons and commutations but decided not to pardon himself. Among those granted clemency were former White House aide Steve Bannon, former top Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy, and rapper Lil Wayne.

These live updates have now finished.

4:15pm - The Celebrating America special has concluded with a huge fireworks display over Washington DC, accompanied by Katy Perry singing - you guessed it - 'Firework'.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden could be seen watching from the White House's Blue Room balcony, while Vice-President Kamala Harris and husband Doug Emhoff watched from the Lincoln Memorial.

4pm - Earlier in their chat, Obama took a none-too-subtle dig at successor Trump as he recounted inaugurations gone by.

"We have got to not just listen to folks we agree with, but listen to folks we don't," he said.

"One of my fondest memories of the inauguration, was the grace and generosity that President Bush showed me, and Laura Bush showed Michelle."

He said such inauguration ceremonies serve as "a reminder that we can have fierce disagreements and recognise each other's common humanity, and that as Americans we have more in common than what separates us".

3:50pm - A rare joint video of former US Presidents Barack Obama, George Bush and Bill Clinton has just aired on the televised Celebrating America special.

In it, they championed American democracy and Bush - the only Republican - issued a moving message of support to Joe Biden.

"Mr President, I'm pulling for your success. Your success is our country's success. God Bless you."

"I think the fact that the three of us are standing here talking about a peaceful transfer of power, speaks to the institutional integrity of our country. America's a generous country, people of great hearts. All three of us were lucky to be the President of this country."

3:35pm - Kamala Harris and husband Doug Emhoff won't move into the Vice-President's residence at the Naval Observatory straight away.

Some repairs need to take place before the couple moves in, an aide has revealed, which are "more easily conducted with the home unoccupied".

It is not yet known when the repairs will be complete and the couple come move in.

3:20pm - Later in his speech, President Biden told US watchers he has "never been more optimistic about America than I am this very day".

He also issued a challenge to Americans, citing the need to take action on the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic crisis, racial discord and climate change.

"Will we meet the moment like our forebearers have?" he asked.

"I believe we must and I believe we will. You, the American people are the reason why I have never been more optimistic about America than I am this very day."

"There isn't anything we can't do if we do it together. So thank you for this honour, I will give my all to you."

3:05pm - In another speech, this time for the televised Celebrating America special, Biden repeated calls for unity following the Trump presidency.

"It is humbling to stand here in this place in front of these sacred words, humbling out of respect to President Lincoln and the office we now share and humbling because of you, the American people.

"As I said earlier today, we have learned again that democracy is precious - and because of you, democracy has prevailed.

"That's why Jill and I, Kamala and Doug, wanted to make sure our inauguration was not about us but about you, the American people. This is a great nation.

"We're a good people and [to] overcome the challenges in front of us requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy - unity. It requires us to come together in common love that defines us as Americans."

3pm - Hollywood star Tom Hanks has opened the primetime inauguration special Celebrating America following a musical performance by Bruce Springsteen.

"The last few weeks, in the last few years, we've witnessed deep divisions and a troubling ranker in our land but tonight, we ponder the United States of America," he said.

"The practice of our democracy, the foundations of our republic, the integrity of our Constitution, the hope and dreams we all share for a more perfect union."

2:55pm - US First Lady Dr Jill Biden has sent her first tweet since her husband's inauguration as President.

"Thank you for your faith in something that is bigger than all of us: that we will build a better world because we're going to do it together," she wrote.

The tweet features a clip of her and President Biden waving from the North Portico of the White House following the inauguration parade.

2:40pm - Asked what she made of the Trump presidency, Ardern was clear.

"There's no question, and the history books will tell us, it's been tumultuous," she said.

"I think we all benefit, regardless of where we are on the political spectrum, when we have an environment where you can have healthy debate and don't see too much heavy, partisan, tribal politicking that leads to unrest.

"I really hope, on behalf of the globe, that we see a more settled period - but one in which ideas are still contested."

Jacinda Ardern responds to a question on the Biden presidency.
Jacinda Ardern responds to a question on the Biden presidency. Photo credit: Newshub.

2:35pm - New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was asked about Joe Biden presidency during a media stand-up on Thursday.

She hinted that the United States-New Zealand relationship is likely to be easier to manage now with Biden at the helm than it was with Donald Trump.

"It will be obvious to everyone in New Zealand that obviously, you come into politics with often very different perspectives to some of the other world leaders you work with.

"Our job has always been to make our relationships work on behalf of our countries. It's obviously a lot easier to do that when you have a few more shared values.

Asked more directly whether she liked Trump, Ardern answered: "I'm still a diplomat."

2:10pm - Doug Emhoff, the husband of Kamala Harris, made his first public statement since his wife was sworn in as the first ever female US Vice-President.

"Wife, mother, sister, auntie... and now, Madame Vice President," the Second Gentleman wrote on Twitter, alongside a video of her being inaugurated.

"Today marks an amazing chapter for you, our family, and for our nation. We love you so much."

2:05pm - One of the 15 executive orders signed by Joe Biden upon him becoming President a few hours ago was to ban the federal government from discriminating against staff on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

He also reversed a ban on diversity training at federal agencies, and reportedly plans to revoke a ban on transgender people serving in the military.

Human Rights Campaign, America's largest LGBTQ+ advocacy group, says it represents "the most substantive, wide-ranging executive order concerning sexual orientation and gender identity ever issued by a United States president".

1:50pm - Asked whether President Biden believes Trump should be held accountable for the Capitol riots on January 6, which saw five people killed, Psaki said he'd leave a decision on that to Congress.

"He has spoken very firmly and fiercely publicly about his views on the horrific events on January 6. He has spoken with members of Congress about that."

She said while Biden ran against Trump because he didn't think him fit to serve in office, the new administration is now focused on the future.

"He is going to leave it to members of Congress to carry out their constitutional duty and determine what the path is forward," she said.

"[Biden] is here today because he decided to run against [Trump], but we're focusing on moving forward and the issues facing the American public. As you know that means focusing on our COVID package."

1:40pm - New White House press secretary Jen Psaki says President Biden didn't mention predecessor Donald Trump during his inauguration speech because he didn't want it to be about any one individual.

"The intention was to make the speech not about any individual but make it about the American people," she told media.

"It's forward looking, not meant to look at the past."

1:30pm - CNN is reporting that Timothy Harleth, the White House chief usher under the Trump administration, has been fired on day one of the Biden presidency.

Harleth was hired to the role by Melania Trump in 2017, taking the place of Angella Reid, who served as chief usher during the Obama administation.

CNN reports that while chief ushers can stay through multiple presidencies, the ousting of Harleth "did not come as a surprise" to several White House sources.

1:20pm - The Senate has confirmed Avril Haines as President Biden's first Cabinet nominee, voting to approve her as Director of National Intelligence.

The vote was 84-10, with only Republican senators voting against her appointment.

Haines, who previously served as Deputy National Security Advisor and Deputy CIA Director, becomes the first woman to occupy the country's top intelligence role.

During her confirmation hearing, she said "when it comes to intelligence, there is simply no place for politics, ever" and pledged to declassify an intelligence report about the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

1:15pm - Psaki says Trump's letter to President Biden was "generous and gracious".

She explains that despite Biden saying he would speak to Trump first before revealing what was in the letter, he has no plans to call his predecessor.

1:10pm - Psaki, a former CNN political commentator, is now speaking to media from the White Housing briefing room.

She acknowledged the press and the Biden administration would have disagreements, but says the communications team was committed to restoring the trust of the American people.

"When the President asked me to serve in this role, we talked about the importance of bringing truth and transparency back to the briefing room," she told journalists.

1:05pm - New White House press secretary Jen Psaki is about to hold the first press briefing of Joe Biden's presidency, resuming an event that had been abandoned by the previous administration.

Under former US President Donald Trump, press briefings became somewhat of a rarity. He often chose to speak directly via speeches or his now-defunct Twitter account.

By the end of his tenure in the Oval Office, Trump had eschewed press briefings nearly completely.

In naming his communications team in November 2020, Biden said: "Communicating directly and truthfully to the American people is one of the most important duties of a president, and this team will be entrusted with the tremendous responsibility of connecting the American people to the White House."

12:55pm - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has wasted no time getting stuck in to Biden, issuing a statement expressing his disappointment at an executive order rescinding a permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

"Earlier today, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States of America. While we welcome the President's commitment to fight climate change, we are disappointed but acknowledge the President’s decision to fulfil his election campaign promise on Keystone XL," Trudeau said.

The now-cancelled Keystone pipeline was a US$9 billion project, operated by TC Energy Corp, designed to transfer oil from the province of Alberta to Nebraska.

12:50pm - Close to 1000 staff members attended the virtual swearing-in ceremony, The Guardian reports, many of whom could be seen on TV screens in front of President Biden's lecturn.

He told them he would "need [their] help badly" during his presidency.

"I'm going to make mistakes. When I make them, I'll acknowledge them, I'll tell you, and I'll need your help to help me correct them."

12:35pm - During his speech, Biden told his appointees he would fire them instantly should they talk down to colleagues or treat them without dignity.

"If you're ever working with me and I hear you treated another colleague with disrespect [or] talked down to someone, I promise I will fire you on the spot... on the spot! No ifs ands or buts."

Earlier he called on the appointees to treat each other with dignity and reminded them of the nature of their new roles.

"History measures us and our fellow Americans… by how decent, honorable and smart we have been in looking out for their interests," he said.

"People don't work for us, we work for the people. I work for the people. They pay my salary. They pay your salary. They put their faith in you. I put my faith in you. And so we have an obligation."

12:30pm - Joe Biden has just sworn in his presidential appointees in a virtual ceremony from the White House's State Dining Room.

"We are one team," the President told them.

"We have an obligation, but we also have a great privilege. Very few times does an individual get to do something that can fundamentally positively impact other people's lives, not only here but around the world."

12:20pm - Republican Senator Ted Cruz is drawing heavy criticism on social media for his choice of face mask for Inauguration Day.

The mask bore the 'Come and Take It' flag, a symbol of defiance during the Texas Revolution.

Cruz has worn the mask several times recently, first to push back against those urging limited Thanksgiving celebration and again when he objected to the certification of Arizona and Pennsylvania's vote counts, which handed the election win to Biden.

Cruz has faced calls for his resignation this month, with critics saying his calls for an emergency audit on election results spurred on the Capitol riots on January 6.

12:05pm - Two members of far-right group the Proud Boys have been arrested by the FBI, in connection to the insurrection at the Capitol building in Washington DC earlier this month.

One of those arrested is group organiser Joseph Biggs, Reuters reports. The 37-year-old faces charges of of corruptly obstructing an official proceeding before Congress, unlawful entry and disorderly conduct.

He was released on a US$25,000 bond on Wednesday afternoon (local time).

More than 100 people have now been arrested in connection to the Capitol riots.

11:50am - For three years, adherents of the sprawling QAnon conspiracy theory awaited a so-called Great Awakening, scouring anonymous web postings from a shadowy "Q" figure and parsing statements by former US President Donald Trump, whom they believed to be their champion.

On Wednesday, they grappled with a harsh reality check: Trump had left office with no mass arrests or other victories against the supposed cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophile cannibal elites, especially Democrats, he was ostensibly fighting.

Instead, Democratic President Joseph Biden was calmly sworn into office, leaving legions of QAnon faithful struggling to make sense of what had transpired.

In one Telegram channel with more than 18,400 members, QAnon believers were split between those still urging others to 'trust the plan' and those saying they felt betrayed. "It's obvious now we've been had. No plan, no Q, nothing," wrote one user.

Some messages referenced theories that a coup was going to take place before the end of Inauguration Day. Others moved the goalposts again, speculating that Trump would be sworn into office on March 4.

"Does anybody have any idea what we should be waiting for next or what the next move could be?" asked another user, who said they wanted to have a 'big win' and arrests made.

Jared Holt, a disinformation researcher at the Atlantic Council, said he had never before seen disillusionment in the QAnon communities he monitors at this scale.

- Reuters

11:30am - A Capitol police officer who was hailed a hero for diverting protesters away from the Senate chamber during the January 6 riots was given a special position during Joe Biden's presidential inauguration.

Read more here.

11:15am - US President Joe Biden on Wednesday (local time) began signing 15 executive actions addressing the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and racial inequality, and undoing some policies put in place by his predecessor Donald Trump.

The actions, fulfilling his promise to move quickly on Day One of his presidency, initiate the process of the United States rejoining the Paris climate accord and include the revocation of the presidential permit granted for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The steps Biden is taking will end a travel ban Trump put in place on some majority-Muslim countries. He is also calling upon his administration to strengthen the DACA program for immigrants brought to the United States as children.

The new president is also ordering the wearing of masks and social distancing in all federal buildings and on all federal lands and is ending a national emergency declaration that was the basis for diverting some federal funds to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.

- Reuters

11:10am - According to CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Biden said Trump's letter was "very generous".

"Because it was private, I won't talk about it until I talk to him. But it was generous." 

11am - Joe Biden has proclaimed January 20, 2021 a "National Day of Unity".

He has called "upon the people of our Nation to join together and write the next story of our democracy - an American story of decency and dignity, of love and of healing, and of greatness and of goodness." 

"With unity, we can save lives and beat this pandemic. We can build our economy back better and include everyone. We can right wrongs and root out systemic racism in our country. We can confront the climate crisis with American jobs and ingenuity.

"We can protect our democracy by seeing each other not as adversaries but as fellow Americans. For the world to see, with unity we can lead not just by the example of our power, but by the power of our example."

10:55am - Democrats took control of the US Senate on Wednesday when Vice President Kamala Harris swore in three new members to give the party a narrow grip on both houses of Congress as well as the White House for the first time in a decade.

Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia and Alex Padilla of California took the oath of office in the Senate chamber hours after President Joe Biden was sworn in.

Warnock and Ossoff won upset victories in a pair of January 5 runoff elections to split the Senate 50-50 with Harris, a Democrat, holding the decisive vote in any tie between Republicans and Democrats.

Padilla, California's first Latino senator, was appointed to fill Harris's Senate seat after she resigned on Monday to take the oath of office as vice president on Wednesday.

The three Democrats give Biden a narrow advantage to pursue policies that include a fresh wave of relief for a nation hammered by the coronavirus pandemic in the face of deep political divisions.

The new arrangement makes Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer the majority leader, with Republican Mitch McConnell demoted to minority leader.

Schumer and McConnell are in talks about a possible power-sharing deal governing daily Senate operations, similar to one struck two decades ago. Both men favor making such an agreement, but McConnell has asked to keep the rules requiring a supermajority of 60 votes to advance most legislation.

- Reuters

10:40am - In the background to the presidential inauguration is the fact that the US Senate will today change to Democrats' hands. Kamala Harris will swear in three new Democratic Senators, taking the split in the Senate to 50/50. As vice-President, Democrat Harris has the tie-breaking vote, meaning her party will have control. 

10:35am - Awaiting Biden in the White House is Trump's letter. It's reportedly been left on the Resolute Desk, the same place where Barack Obama left Trump his note. 

10:30am - CNN reports that Clinton, Bush and Obama have recorded a joint video which is set for release later on Thursday.

10:25am - It's now been two weeks since the pro-Trump insurrection of January 6. A lot has happened in Washington DC since, including Trump's impeachment last Thursday (Wednesday locally).

10:20am - We are in a bit of a lull now. At roughly 11:15am, Biden is expected to sign a number of executive orders, many of which will reverse Trump-era policies. At 1pm, new Press Secretary Jen Psaki will hold a press briefing. 

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20:  U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden embrace while standing at the North Portico of The White House after Biden's inauguration on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.  Biden became the 46th president of the United States earlier today during the ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20:  U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden arrive at the White House after Biden's inauguration on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.  Biden became the 46th president of the United States earlier today during the ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20:  U.S. President Joe Biden prepares to walk the abbreviated parade route after Biden's inauguration on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.  Biden became the 46th president of the United States earlier today during the ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.  (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20:  U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden walk the abbreviated parade route after Biden's inauguration on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.  Biden became the 46th president of the United States earlier today during the ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.  (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.

10:05am - Vice-President Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff have now left their vehicle and are walking towards the White House. They are surrounded by family.

10am - "The ACT Party congratulates President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on their inauguration today," says ACT Foreign Affairs spokesperson Brooke van Velden

"We hoped for a smooth, peaceful transition of power and we’re relieved this has occurred. The United States of America is an important ally of New Zealand.

"We are hopeful the Biden Administration will uphold democracy, the rule of law, and in particular the global rules-based system. We will support the United States in pushing back against authoritarian regimes that don’t recognise or respect peoples’ human rights.

"This new administration presents an opportunity to strengthen trade between our and other liberal democracies."

9:50am - The President has now arrived at his new home - the White House. He is expected to sign a large number of executive orders, many reversing the policies of the Trump administration.

US inauguration: Joe Biden becomes President, Donald Trump exits White House, Washington on high alert
Photo credit: C-SPAN.

9:45am - Biden has left the Beast with his wife, Jill. The street is lined with members of the Secret Service as well as the military. 

The pair are walking down the avenue with their family behind him.

On several occasions, Joe Biden jogged over to members of the media and others in the crowd.

Reminder: You can watch a livestream of events above.

US inauguration: Joe Biden becomes President, Donald Trump exits White House, Washington on high alert
Photo credit: C-SPAN.

9:30am - Joe Biden is still on his way to the White House. He is preceded by a military band parade. It's expected that Biden will get out of the Beast vehicle for a short period of time.

US inauguration: Joe Biden becomes President, Donald Trump exits White House, Washington on high alert
Photo credit: C-SPAN.

9:25am - Bernie Sanders has explained his very low-key outfit for the inauguration.

"You know, in Vermont, we know something about the cold. We’re not so concerned about good fashion. We want to keep warm.”

9:15am - Daniel Smith, director of the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), has been appointed acting secretary of state following Joe Biden's swearing in as President, a White House official said on Wednesday.

Smith is expected to be in the role temporarily until Biden's nominee for top diplomat, Antony Blinken, is confirmed by the US Senate.

The announcement comes a day after the confirmation hearing of Blinken, 58, a veteran foreign policy hand and close Biden confidant. There has been no indication that Blinken would face difficulty being confirmed.

Smith was appointed director of the FSI, which trains American diplomats, in 2018 and holds the State Department's highest diplomatic rank of Career Ambassador.

Blinken previously served as No. 2 at the State Department and as deputy national security adviser in President Barack Obama's administration.

- Reuters

9:05am - New photos show the inside of the White House with framed photos of the Bidens.

8:50am - The Bidens will now be escorted to the White House. The President is expected to sign a raft of executive orders and swear in presidential appointees. There will also be a press briefing from new press secretary Jen Psaki.

8:40am - Joe and Jill Biden have arrived at the cemetery. The President and vice-President are now taking part in a wreath-laying ceremony. 

ARLINGTON, VA - JANUARY 20: U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attend a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier after the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Capitol January 20, 2021  in Arlington, Virginia. During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States.   (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.

8:35am - Former Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton, as well as their First Ladies, are waiting for the Bidens to arrive. They are lined up outside the cemetery.

ARLINGTON, VA - JANUARY 20: Former U.S. President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and former U.S. President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, and former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier after the President Joe Biden's Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol January 20, 2021 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.

8:30am - Amanda Gorman, the youngest poet in US history to mark the transition of presidential power, offered a hopeful vision for a deeply divided country on Wednesday (local time) with her poem "The Hill We Climb".

Gorman, 22, a Los Angeles resident, joined the ranks of previous inaugural poets Robert Frost, Maya Angelou and Elizabeth Alexander, with a powerful performance at the swearing-in of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

"Being American is more than a pride we inherit. It's the past we step into and how we repair it," Gorman said, in a short poem that was greeted with a hail of critical acclaim on social media.

"We will not march back to what was. We move to what shall be, a country that is bruised, but whole. Benevolent, but bold. Fierce and free."

Speaking on the steps of the US Capitol just two weeks after a violent mob laid siege to the seat of American government with Confederate flags, pipe bombs and a noose, Gorman said Americans could rise above the hatred.

"While democracy can be temporarily delayed, it can never be permanently defeated," Gorman said. "Let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left," Gorman said. "We will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one."

"The new dawn blooms as we free it," said Gorman, who was named the first U.S. National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017.

John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama also had poets read at their inauguration.

Critical acclaim poured from across the country and the political spectrum, including Republican strategist Lincoln Project and Stacey Abrams the Democratic organizer and gubernatorial candidate from Georgia, who said, "Amanda Gorman's message serves as an inspiration to us all."

Singer Sheryl Crow tweeted: "If the future looks like inaugural poet laureate Amanda Gorman, we are in good shape. Wise and inspiring."

- Reuters

8:25am - Amanda Gorman has received much praise for her poetry at the inauguration ceremony, including from Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey.

8:20am - Biden is currently in the Beast on the way to Arlington Cemetery. He will meet with former Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton there.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20:  U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden attend the presentation of gifts ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda after Biden's inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.  During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: U.S. President Joe Biden, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Douglas Emhoff, husband of U.S. Vice President Harris, attend a Pass in Review ceremony, hosted by the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol after the 59th Presidential Inauguration on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. . (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, U.S. President Joe Biden, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Douglas Emhoff, husband of U.S. Vice President Harris, arrive for a Pass in Review ceremony, hosted by the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol after the the 59th Presidential Inauguration on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.

8:10am - UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Biden's election is a "step forward" for the USA after a "bumpy period". 

8:05am - The Bidens are now walking down to the Beast vehicle. They wave to the crowds before getting inside. The President can be seen on his phone inside the vehicle.

They are now heading to Arlington Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony with former Presidents.

8am - Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Kamala Harris, and Doug Emhoff are now departing the Capitol. They walk to the bottom of the steps to review the readiness of the military.

US inauguration: Joe Biden becomes President, Donald Trump exits White House, Washington on high alert
Photo credit: C-SPAN.

7:55am - Melania Trump's wardrobe change on the way to Florida is getting a lot of interest online, as are the different emotions members of the Trump family had when they were leaving. 

7:50am - OPINION: Joe Biden has officially become the 46th President of the United States - third time lucky after America said 'no, Joe' in 1988 and 2008. 

The ceremony saw 200,000 people replaced by flags, the only empty chair reserved for Donald Trump - who had thrown a wobbly and sulked off to Florida. 

He couldn't face being on stage as a loser, but more than that, he failed to be gracious. 

Read Duncan Garner's editorial here.

7:40am - Biden and Harris are now taking part in a gift-giving ceremony. Top members of the Republican and Democratic parties are present.

They are presented with crystal vases by Democrat Amy Klobuchar, flags by Republican Mitch McConnell and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and framed pictures of their inaugurations by Republican Kevin McCarthy and Democrat Steny Hoyer.

7:35am - The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), on Wednesday congratulated US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris after their inauguration.

"Congratulations President @JoeBiden and Vice-President @KamalaHarris on your #Inauguration today. Here's to a healthier, fairer, safer, more sustainable world", Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter.

Biden has said he will halt the withdrawal of the US from the WHO, a process initiated by former President Donald Trump.

- Reuters

7:30am - Joe Biden has just participated in a signing ceremony in the Capitol. Among the documents he signed is his nominations for Cabinet positions. He is now heading to review the readiness of military troops. 

7:25am - Pope Francis told US President Joe Biden on Wednesday (local time) that he was praying that God would guide his efforts to bring reconciliation in the United States and among the nations of the world.

In a message sent shortly after the second Catholic US president was sworn in, Francis also said he hoped Biden would work towards a society marked by true justice, freedom and respect for the rights and dignity of every person, especially the poor, the vulnerable and those with no voice.

"Under your leadership, may the American people continue to draw strength from the lofty political, ethical and religious values that have inspired the nation since its founding," Francis said.

"I likewise ask God, the source of all wisdom and truth, to guide your efforts to foster understanding, reconciliation and peace within the United States and among the nations of the world in order to advance the universal common good," he said.

Three days after the Jan. 6 attack on the US Congress by supporters of former president Donald Trump, Francis said the violence had left him "astonished".

In Wednesday's message to Biden, the pope said the "grave crises facing our human family call for farsighted and united responses".

Francis had a rocky relationship with Trump, who visited the Vatican in 2017, disagreeing with him on a series of issues including immigration and climate change.

- Reuters

7:15am - China has imposed sanctions on 28 US individuals including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over "crazy actions that have gravely interfered in China's internal affairs", its foreign ministry said in the early hours of Thursday, Beijing time.

"These individuals and their immediate family members are prohibited from entering the mainland of China, Hong Kong and Macao. They and companies and institutions associated with them are also restricted from doing business with China," the ministry said in a statement.

Others sanctioned include: Peter K. Navarro, Robert C. O’Brien, David R. Stilwell, Matthew Pottinger, Alex M. Azar II, Keith J. Krach, and Kelly D. K. Craft of the Trump administration as well as John R. Bolton and Stephen K. Bannon.

- Reuters

7:10am - Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani has tweeted: "As the clouds of hatred recede and time lets the light of reason prevail, history will record Trump as one of our greatest Presidents. Great achievements foreign and domestic, despite unprecedented opposition. Thank God for the grace He bestows on the United States of America."

"We pray to God to continue guiding and protecting the greatest nation on earth, the United States of America."

Political commentator Tracey Barnett has told The AM Show Donald Trump's presidency has been a "cancer on democracy" and the biggest casualty has been "the truth."

7:05am - The VIP guests are now leaving the Capitol, including the former Presidents. They will meet with Biden later in the day to lay a wreath at Arlington Cemetery.

Newshub reporter Lloyd Burr, who is in Washington for the inauguration, told The AM Show the atmosphere is tense in the capital but the "show of force" by the authorities has prevented any further rioting.

7am - Here is some reaction from international leaders:

ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship says the Queen has sent a private message of congratulations to Joe Biden. 

6:55am - Joe Biden has been inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States, succeeding Donald Trump as the most powerful man in the world.

Kamala Harris, the former California Senator, has made history by becoming the first female US vice-President. 

Do you think Joe Biden will be a good president? Vote in The AM Show Question of the Day here

6:50am - Former vice-President Mike Pence, his wife Karen, new vice-President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff are walking down the Capitol steps together. Mid-way down they talk and laugh together. 

The Pences leave while Harris and Emhoff return inside.

US inauguration: Joe Biden becomes President, Donald Trump exits White House, Washington on high alert
Photo credit: C-SPAN.

6:45am - Joe Biden has tweeted from the POTUS Twitter account: "There is no time to waste when it comes to tackling the crises we face. That's why today, I am heading to the Oval Office to get right to work delivering bold action and immediate relief for American families."

High-profile Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has tweeted her congratulations.

6:40am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has congratulated new US President Joe Biden.

"I look forward to building a close relationship with President Biden and working with him on issues that matter to both our countries," Jacinda Ardern said.

"New Zealand and the United States have shared interests in addressing global challenges including climate change, the COVID-19 economic recovery, and the security, prosperity and sustainability of the Indo-Pacific and Pacific Island regions.

"We have a common investment in the international rules-based order and I welcome President Biden’s intentions for the US to re-join the Paris Agreement and halt its withdrawal from the World Health Organisation.

"President Biden is a good friend of New Zealand, and we have fond memories of his 2016 visit to our shores. Under his presidency the strong and close relationship that New Zealand enjoys with the United States will continue to develop and flourish.

"President Biden’s message of unity as he takes office is one that resonates with New Zealanders and, on behalf of New Zealand, I wish him well as he begins his presidency."

6:35am - The inauguration ceremony has concluded. The new US President and vice-President are now departing. They meet with the former Presidents as they leave. 

The new executives will now conduct a "Pass in Review" on the East front of the Capitol with members of the military. This is described as a "long-standing military tradition that reflects the peaceful transfer of power to a new Commander-in-Chief."

6:30am - The US Government Twitter accounts are now in the hands of the new executives. 

Here are two photos from earlier:

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Joe Biden is sworn in as U.S. President as his wife Dr. Jill Biden looks on during his inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.  During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20:  Kamala Harris is sworn in as U.S. Vice President as her husband Doug Emhoff looks on at the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.  During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.

6:25am - Joe Biden vowed to end the 'uncivil war' in a deeply divided country reeling from a battered economy and a raging coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans.

With his hand on a five-inch thick heirloom Bible that has been in his family for more than a century, Biden took the oath of office administered by US Chief Justice John Roberts that binds the president to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

"Through a crucible for the ages, America has been tested anew, and America has risen to the challenge," Biden said in his inaugural address. "Today we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate but of a cause: the cause of democracy... At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed."

Top Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence and the party's congressional leaders, attended Biden's inauguration, along with former US Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Biden's running mate, Kamala Harris, the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, became the first Black person, first woman and first Asian American to serve as vice president after she was sworn in by US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court's first Latina member.

Biden takes office at a time of deep national unease, with the country facing what his advisers have described as four compounding crises: the pandemic, the economic downtown, climate change and racial inequality. He has promised immediate action, including a raft of executive orders on his first day in office.

After a bitter campaign marked by Donald Trump's baseless allegations of election fraud, Biden struck a conciliatory tone, asking Americans who did not vote for him to give him a chance to be their president as well.

"To overcome these challenges to restore the soul and secure the future of America requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy: unity," he said. "We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this - if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts."

- Reuters

6:20am - Amanda Gorman, a poet from California, is now speaking. She's the youngest inaugural poet in the country's history.

6:15am - Biden concludes by giving Americans his word that he will defend democracy and the Constitution. He will defend the US, and do everything, not thinking of power, but of possibilities. Biden wants democracy, truth and justice to thrive.

"With purpose and resolve, we turn to those tasks of our time," he says. 

Garth Brooks is now performing 'Amazing Grace'.

6:10am - Biden says one characteristics of America is "truth". He says there have been lies spouted out over recent weeks. Leaders have a duty to defend the truth and "defeat the lies," Biden tells the world.

He understands that many Americans view the future with fear and worry about their jobs.

"I promise you I get it. The answer isn't to turn inward," he says. 

"We must end this un-civil war that pits red against blue."

He wants Americans to open their souls instead of hardening their hearts. Tolerance is necessary and for people to stand in other people's shoes.

He says the US could be entering the deadliest period of the virus. 

"We will get through this together. Together!" Biden declares.

His message to the world: "America has been tested and we have come out stronger for it."

Biden says America will be a partner for peace and security.

His first act as President is to ask people to join him in a moment of silence to remember the 400,000 people killed during the COVID-19 pandemic so far.

He says there has been an attack on democracy and on truth, as well as a pandemic and ongoing systemic racism. Any one of these are challenging, but the US faces it all at once.

"Now we are going to be tested. Are we going to stand up? All of us. It is time for boldness," Biden says.

He says the US will be judged by how these errors are resolved.

"Will we master this rare and difficult hour?... I believe we will. When we do, we will write the next great chapter in the history of the United States of America."

6:05am - He hopes people see each other not as adversaries, but as neighbours.

"For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury."

Without unity, Biden says there is only a state of chaos.

"Unity is the path forward. We must meet this moment as the United States of America."

If that can be accomplished, "we will not fail". 

"Let's start afresh. Let's start to listen to one another again... politics doesn't have to be a raging fire."

Biden says we must reject a culture where facts are manipulated or manufactured.

"We have to be different than this. American has to be better than this."

After speaking about moments in the Capitol's history, Biden is now noting Harris has become the first female vice-President.

"Don't tell me things can't change."

He said the events of January 6 won't "stop the work of democracy".

"It did not happen. It will never happen. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever."

For those who did not vote for him, Biden asks for them to listen to him, to "hear me out". 

"I will be a President for all Americans. I will fight as hard for those who did not support me than those who did."

6am - Biden spoke to former President Carter on Wednesday night. Carter isn't in attendance at the inauguration. Biden says he salutes him. 

"This is a great nation. We are a good people."

But he says the US still has far to go in this "winter of peril". He says there is much to restore and much to gain. He mentions the ongoing challenge of COVID-19, as well as threats of political extremism, white supremacy and domestic terrorism.  

To overcome these challenges, there must be unity, the President says. With unity, great things can be done, he says, including "overcoming the deadly virus".

5:55am - Biden is now giving his inaugural address. He begins by acknowledging Chief Justice Roberts, VP Harris and members of Congress.

"This is America's day. This is democracy's day. A day of history and hope," Biden tells America.

He says the US has been tested, but it has also risen to the challenge. 

"The will of the people has been heard and the will of the people had been heeded."

Biden declares that democracy has prevailed.

After the violent events of January 6, he says the US must now look ahead to the future.

5:50am - Joe Biden has become the 46th President of the United States. He was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts. He receives a kiss from new First Lady Jill Biden and the rest of his family surrounds to congratulate him.

5:45am - Harris has taken the oath and become the vice-President of the United States. Her husband, Doug Emhoff, held the bible as she was sworn in. 

Jennifer Lopez is now performing a song.

5:40am - Kamala Harris is being inaugurated as the first female vice-President of the United States. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is administering the oath.

5:35am -  The national anthem will now be sung by Lady Gaga. Before reaching the microphone, she briefly speaks to Joe Biden.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Lady Gaga sings the National Anthem at the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.  During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.

5:30am - The AM Show's coverage of the inauguration has begun. You can watch that in the video at the top of the page. We have also embedded a YouTube raw feed of the ceremony above.

Before his presidency ends, Trump has pardoned Albert J. Pirro Jr, the husband of Fox News personality Judge Jeanine Pirro. He was convicted on conspiracy and tax evasion charges. 

5:25am - Amy Klobuchar, the incoming Democratic chairwoman of the Senate rules committee, has begun speaking, opening the ceremony. She says Joe Biden vows to restore the soul of America and congratulates Kamala Harris on her historic election. 

Roy Blunt, the top Republican on the Senate rules committee, is now speaking. He mentions that it is snowing in Washington DC.

5:20am - Joe and Jill Biden have just arrived onto the platform. They walked down the aisle, with Joe giving a fist bump to former President Barack Obama. Joe will take his oath at about 6am (NZT).

Everyone is now seated for the ceremony, waiting for it to begin. 

5:10am - Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff have walked out onto the Capitol platform. Harris is about to become the first woman to be vice-President. Harris was earlier escorted by Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman. The incoming vice-President and Second Gentleman are now speaking with the Obamas.

Former President Bill Clinton has also been spotted speaking to vice-President Mike Pence.

5:05am - Mike and Karen Pence, the outgoing vice-President and Second Lady, are walking out onto the Capitol platform. CNN reports that Pence did leave a note for incoming vice-President Kamala Harris.

5am - Air Force One has arrived at Palm Beach, Flordia. It reportedly flew past Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort as it approached the airport. 

"After an uneventful flight Air Force One has landed in Florida. The President did not visit the cabin. The Trumps are expected to take one final presidential motorcade to his vacation home in Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago," says CNN's Jim Acosta.

4:55am - The Supreme Court Justices have now walked out onto the Capitol platform. 

4:50am - The three sets of former Presidents and First Ladies have walked out onto the Capitol platform for the inauguration. Former President Jimmy Carter, 96, isn't in attendance but has sent his best wishes to Biden.

The oaths of office will be taken in just over an hour now. We will live-update the event and also have coverage from The AM Show in the video at the top of the page.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Former U.S. President Bill Clinton arrives with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.  During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Former U.S. President George W. Bush and Laura Bush arrive to the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.  During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Former U.S. President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama arrive to the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.  During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.

4:45am - Meanwhile, south of Washington DC, it looks like Air Force One and Donald Trump are closing in on Florida. Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the outgoing President, has just tweeted a picture from the plane.

4:40am - An update on the bomb threat at the Supreme Court: The grounds are being checked over, but no one is being evacuated.

4:35am - Joe and Jill Biden have arrived at the Capitol along with Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff. They walked together up the Capitol steps before waving to the crowds. 

Also with the group was Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman. He was one of the officers on duty on January 6 and played a pivotal role in guiding the violent pro-Trump insurrectionists away from the Senate chamber.

US inauguration: Joe Biden becomes President, Donald Trump exits White House, Washington on high alert
Photo credit: C-SPAN.

4:30am - Both the incoming President, Joe Biden, and former President Barack Obama have tweeted this morning. Biden said it was a "new day in America", while Obama congratulated his former vice-President.

4:25am - CNN is reporting that a bomb threat has been called into the Supreme Court. The court Justices will be attending the inauguration at the Capitol on Thursday.

4:20am - Former Presidents Barack Obama, George Bush and Bill Clinton have arrived at the Capitol ahead of the inauguration. They and the former First Ladies will attend a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington Cemetery later in the day with the new executives.

Vice-President Mike Pence has also arrived along with top party members such as Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, and Steny Hoyer. Senators Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz are also there.

4:15am - CNN reports that President Trump has left a note for his successor, Joe Biden. This is another tradition for presidents and Trump often boasted about the note he received from Barack Obama.

It is still somewhat of a surprise that Trump followed through on it considering he isn't attending Biden's inauguration.

Melania also left a note for incoming First Lady Jill Biden.

The contents of both letters are unknown.

4:10am - As Donald Trump left Washington DC, Joe Biden and members of both the Republican and Democratic parties attended a church service at the Cathedral of St Matthew the Apostle. It is the only event on the President-elect's schedule before his swearing in at 6am. Among those in attendance was Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Majority leader.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden attend services at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle with Congressional leaders prior the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: (L-R) Senate Minority Leader Chick Schumer D-NY) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and former transportation secretary Elaine Chao attend services at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle with Congressional leaders prior the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.

4:05am - Having lost the election, Donald Trump has left the White House for the last time as President. 

He was accompanied by his wife Melania and told reporters on the South Lawn that it was the honour of his lifetime to serve as the 45th President. 

While it's custom for outgoing Presidents to meet with their successors on inauguration day, Trump snubbed Joe Biden, instead deciding to go directly to Joint Air Force Base Andrews for a mini-rally of sorts. 

At the air base, Trump told supporters - including his assembled family - that he had accomplished a lot as President and took credit for "incredible numbers" that the US economy would see in coming years. 

The outgoing President said his team had "left it all on the field" and promised he would "always fight for you".

He said "we will be back in some form" to applause from the crowd.

"I will be watching. I will be listening, and I will tell you that the future of this country has never been better. I wish the new administration great luck and great success. I think they'll have great success. They have the foundation to do something really spectacular."

While Trump thanked his vice-President, Mike Pence wasn't in attendance at the ceremony. He has instead decided to attend Biden's inauguration. 

After his speech, the song 'YMCA' played and Trump gave some fist pumps. He then hopped on board Air Force One to head to Florida. As the plane took off, Frank Sinatra's 'My Way' played.

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MARYLAND - JANUARY 20: President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive to speak to supporters prior to boarding Air Force One to head to Florida on January 20, 2021 in Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Trump, the first president in more than 150 years to refuse to attend his successor's inauguration, is expected to spend the final minutes of his presidency at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. (Photo by Pete Marovich - Pool/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump depart the White House on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump is making his scheduled departure from the White House for Florida, several hours ahead of the inauguration ceremony for his successor Joe Biden, making him the first president in more than 150 years to refuse to attend the inauguration. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MARYLAND - JANUARY 20: President Donald Trump speaks to his supporters prior to boarding Air Force One to head to Florida on January 20, 2021 in Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Trump, the first president in more than 150 years to refuse to attend his successor's inauguration, is expected to spend the final minutes of his presidency at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. (Photo by Pete Marovich - Pool/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.

4am - Kia Ora, good morning. Welcome to Newshub's live updates of the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Already this morning Donald Trump has left the White House for his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. We will bring you details of his departure and what he said to supporters soon.

In the meantime, here's a guide to what to expect on Thursday, including the schedule of events.