Inaugural Address by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
The United States Capitol
THE PRESIDENT: Chief Justice Roberts, Vice President Harris, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Leader McConnell, Vice President Pence, distinguished guests, and my fellow Americans.
This is America’s day.
This is democracy’s day.
A day of history and hope.
Of renewal and resolve.
Through a crucible for the ages America has been tested anew and America has risen to the challenge.
Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy.
The will of the people has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded.
We have learned again that democracy is precious.
Democracy is fragile.
And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.
So now, on this hallowed ground where just days ago violence sought to shake this Capitol’s very foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries.
We look ahead in our uniquely American way – restless, bold, optimistic – and set our sights on the nation we know we can be and we must be.
I thank my predecessors of both parties for their presence here.
I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
You know the resilience of our Constitution and the strength of our nation.
As does President Carter, who I spoke to last night but who cannot be with us today, but whom we salute for his lifetime of service.
I have just taken the sacred oath each of these patriots took — an oath first sworn by George Washington.
But the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us.
On “We the People” who seek a more perfect Union.
This is a great nation and we are a good people.
Over the centuries through storm and strife, in peace and in war, we have come so far. But we still have far to go.
We will press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and possibility.
Much to restore.
And much to gain.
Few periods in our nation’s history have been more challenging or difficult than the one we’re in now.
A once-in-a-century virus silently stalks the country.
It’s taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II.
Millions of jobs have been lost.
Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed.
A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.
A cry for survival comes from the planet itself. A cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear.
And now, a rise in political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.
To overcome these challenges – to restore the soul and to secure the future of America – requires more than words.
It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy:
In another January in Washington, on New Year’s Day 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
When he put pen to paper, the President said, “If my name ever goes down into history it will be for this act and my whole soul is in it.”
My whole soul is in it.
Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this:
Bringing America together.
Uniting our people.
And uniting our nation.
I ask every American to join me in this cause.
Uniting to fight the common foes we face:
Anger, resentment, hatred.
Extremism, lawlessness, violence.
Disease, joblessness, hopelessness.
With unity we can do great things. Important things.
We can right wrongs.
We can put people to work in good jobs.
We can teach our children in safe schools.
We can overcome this deadly virus.
We can reward work, rebuild the middle class, and make health care
secure for all.
We can deliver racial justice.
We can make America, once again, the leading force for good in the world.
I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy.
I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real.
But I also know they are not new.
Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, and demonization have long torn us apart.
The battle is perennial.
Victory is never assured.
Through the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War, 9/11, through struggle, sacrifice, and setbacks, our “better angels” have always prevailed.
In each of these moments, enough of us came together to carry all of us forward.
And, we can do so now.
History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity.
We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors.
We can treat each other with dignity and respect.
We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature.
For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.
No progress, only exhausting outrage.
No nation, only a state of chaos.
This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward.
And, we must meet this moment as the United States of America.
If we do that, I guarantee you, we will not fail.
We have never, ever, ever failed in America when we have acted together.
And so today, at this time and in this place, let us start afresh.
Let us listen to one another.
Hear one another.
See one another.
Show respect to one another.
Politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path.
Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war.
And, we must reject a culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.
My fellow Americans, we have to be different than this.
America has to be better than this.
And, I believe America is better than this.
Just look around.
Here we stand, in the shadow of a Capitol dome that was completed amid the Civil War, when the Union itself hung in the balance.
Yet we endured and we prevailed.
Here we stand looking out to the great Mall where Dr. King spoke of his dream.
Here we stand, where 108 years ago at another inaugural, thousands of protestors tried to block brave women from marching for the right to vote.
Today, we mark the swearing-in of the first woman in American history elected to national office – Vice President Kamala Harris.
Don’t tell me things can’t change.
Here we stand across the Potomac from Arlington National Cemetery, where heroes who gave the last full measure of devotion rest in eternal peace.
And here we stand, just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, and to drive us from this sacred ground.
That did not happen.
It will never happen.
To all those who supported our campaign I am humbled by the faith you have placed in us.
To all those who did not support us, let me say this: Hear me out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart.
And if you still disagree, so be it.
That’s democracy. That’s America. The right to dissent peaceably, within the guardrails of our Republic, is perhaps our nation’s greatest strength.
Yet hear me clearly: Disagreement must not lead to disunion.
And I pledge this to you: I will be a President for all Americans.
I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.
Many centuries ago, Saint Augustine, a saint of my church, wrote that a people was a multitude defined by the common objects of their love.
What are the common objects we love that define us as Americans?
And, yes, the truth.
Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson.
There is truth and there are lies.
Lies told for power and for profit.
And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders – leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation — to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.
I understand that many Americans view the future with some fear and trepidation.
I understand they worry about their jobs, about taking care of their families, about what comes next.
But the answer is not to turn inward, to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don’t look like you do, or worship the way you do, or don’t get their news from the same sources you do.
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.
If we show a little tolerance and humility.
If we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes just for a moment.
Because here is the thing about life: There is no accounting for what fate will deal you.
There are some days when we need a hand.
There are other days when we’re called on to lend one.
That is how we must be with one another.
And, if we are this way, our country will be stronger, more prosperous, more ready for the future.
My fellow Americans, in the work ahead of us, we will need each other.
We will need all our strength to persevere through this dark winter.
We are entering what may well be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus.
We must set aside the politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation.
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 world is watching today.
So here is my message to those beyond our borders: America has been tested and we have come out stronger for it.
We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again.
Not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s.
We will lead not merely by the example of our power but by the power of our example.
We will be a strong and trusted partner for peace, progress, and security.
We have been through so much in this nation.
And, in my first act as President, I would like to ask you to join me in a moment of silent prayer to remember all those we lost this past year to the pandemic.
To those 400,000 fellow Americans – mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
We will honor them by becoming the people and nation we know we can and should be.
Let us say a silent prayer for those who lost their lives, for those they left behind, and for our country.
This is a time of testing.
We face an attack on democracy and on truth.
The sting of systemic racism.
A climate in crisis.
America’s role in the world.
Any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways.
But the fact is we face them all at once, presenting this nation with the gravest of responsibilities.
Now we must step up.
It is a time for boldness, for there is so much to do.
And, this is certain.
We will be judged, you and I, for how we resolve the cascading crises of our era.
Will we rise to the occasion?
Will we master this rare and difficult hour?
Will we meet our obligations and pass along a new and better world for our children?
I believe we must and I believe we will.
And when we do, we will write the next chapter in the American story.
It’s a story that might sound something like a song that means a lot to me.
It’s called “American Anthem” and there is one verse stands out for me:
“The work and prayers
of centuries have brought us to this day
What shall be our legacy?
What will our children say?…
Let me know in my heart
When my days are through
I gave my best to you.”
Let us add our own work and prayers to the unfolding story of our nation.
If we do this then when our days are through our children and our children’s children will say of us they gave their best.
They did their duty.
They healed a broken land.
My fellow Americans, I close today where I began, with a sacred oath.
Before God and all of you I give you my word.
I will always level with you.
I will defend the Constitution.
I will defend our democracy.
I will defend America.
I will give my all in your service thinking not of power, but of possibilities.
Not of personal interest, but of the public good.
And together, we shall write an American story of hope, not fear.
Of unity, not division.
Of light, not darkness.
An American story of decency and dignity.
Of love and of healing.
Of greatness and of goodness.
May this be the story that guides us.
The story that inspires us.
The story that tells ages yet to come that we answered the call of history.
We met the moment.
That democracy and hope, truth and justice, did not die on our watch but thrived.
That our America secured liberty at home and stood once again as a beacon to the world.
That is what we owe our forebearers, one another, and generations to follow.
So, with purpose and resolve we turn to the tasks of our time.
Sustained by faith.
Driven by conviction.
And, devoted to one another and to this country we love with all our hearts.
May God bless America and may God protect our troops.Inaugural Address by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. The United States Capitol THE PRESIDENT: Chief Justice Roberts, Vice President Harris, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Leader McConnell,
What Trump faces on Jan. 20, 2021
On Jan. 20, 2021, around noon, Joe Biden will take the oath of office as president and Donald Trump will lose both his job and one of its most important perks.
Trump has faced investigations involving his campaign, his business and his personal behavior since he took the oath of office himself four years ago. As soon as he becomes a private citizen, however, he will be stripped of the legal armor that has protected him from a host of pending court cases both civil and criminal.
He will no longer be able to argue in court that his position as the nation’s chief executive makes him immune to prosecution or protects him from turning over documents and other evidence. He will also lose the help of the Justice Department in making those arguments.
September: Barr defends DOJ’s move to represent Trump in defamation suit
While it’s possible he could go to jail as a result of some of the investigations of his business affairs, the soon-to-be-former president is more likely to face financial punishment in the form of civil fines, law enforcement observers believe. He may also be embarrassed by financial and other secrets that will be exposed in court. Nearly all his legal troubles are in his hometown, New York, where he once basked in the tabloid limelight as a young mogul and where he rode a golden escalator into an unlikely political career.
Here are some of the most perilous cases that await Trump when he’s no longer president — and here’s how he could yet use the powers of the nation’s highest office to escape punishment:
The Manhattan district attorney’s case
Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to campaign finance violations for paying adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep silent about an affair she alleges she had with Trump. The indictment alleged that Cohen had paid Daniels $130,000 before the 2016 election for the benefit of “Individual-1,” an unindicted co-conspirator described as an “ultimately successful candidate for president.” But federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York didn’t seek charges against Trump, who would have been immune from prosecution regardless while he was president.
Two prosecutors in New York seem to have picked up where federal prosecutors left off in examining Trump’s finances.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is looking into a variety of allegations of financial improprieties. Court documents show that Vance is investigating “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization,” Trump’s family business, which could include falsifying business records, insurance fraud and tax fraud.
While the campaign finance violation of Individual-1 isn’t a federal case, New York state law says falsifying business records in furtherance of an illegal act is a felony. Cohen has also alleged that Trump effectively uses two sets of numbers in his business, one with higher values to secure loans and a second with lower values to minimize taxes, according to his congressional testimony and published interviews. While Trump has declined to release his tax returns, saying he is under audit, The New York Times obtained many years of his tax records and determined that he had paid no federal income tax for 10 of the years and $750 in each of two other years.
Vance’s office has subpoenaed eight years of the president’s tax documents from his tax preparer, Mazars USA LLC, a subpoena the president fought all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in October 2019 that Trump wasn’t immune from having to provide the documents while president and could fight the subpoena only on the same grounds any other person could, on the merits.
Since the ruling, Trump’s legal team has fought the subpoena on its merits, but it has lost in the district and appeals courts. The Supreme Court must now decide whether to accept Trump’s emergency request for a stay of the lower courts’ rulings and possibly hear the case again or deny the stay. It’s unknown when the Supreme Court could announce a decision, which would be made by a high court that now includes three Trump appointees.
If the stay request is denied, Vance gets the documents as soon as Mazars can transfer the files. This is the only known criminal investigation involving Trump, and if he is convicted, the penalties could be solely or largely financial.
NBC News legal analyst Danny Cevallos said he expects Vance to pick the “lowest hanging fruit” of crimes to charge, which would likely be tax evasion or falsifying business records.
The penalty for falsifying business records can be up to a year in prison with fines or probation with fines.
Cevallos said a person can be found guilty of falsifying business records in the second degree in New York “when he has the specific intent to defraud.”
“That means that he intends to cheat or deprive another person of property or a thing of value,” Cevallos said.
He said a lower-level employee could claim that he or she didn’t personally benefit from the crime or merely executed orders on someone else’s behalf. That affirmative defense likely wouldn’t apply to Trump.
The New York attorney general’s case
The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, meanwhile, is investigating four different Trump Organization real estate projects and his failed attempt to buy the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. In March 2019, the office subpoenaed records from Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank. The fraud inquiry was reported to have been prompted by Cohen’s testimony before Congress that Trump had inflated his financial assets.
The attorney general’s investigation is civil, not criminal, but the office would be allowed to refer any allegedly criminal elements to local prosecutors like Vance.Trump has faced inquiries involving his campaign, his business and his own behavior since he took office. He loses legal immunity when Biden becomes president. ]]>