Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, said on Tuesday that the mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 had been “provoked by the president and other powerful people,” stating publicly for the first time that he holds President Trump at least partly responsible for the assault.
“The mob was fed lies,” Mr. McConnell said, referring to attempts by Mr. Trump to overturn the election based on bogus claims of voter fraud. “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people. And they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like.”
Mr. McConnell made the remarks on his last full day as majority leader, speaking on the eve of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration and as the Senate was bracing to receive a single article of impeachment from the House charging Mr. Trump with “incitement of insurrection.”
The Kentucky Republican has indicated privately that he believes that Mr. Trump committed impeachable offenses, but he has said he has yet to decide whether to vote to convict the president, and many senators in his party are awaiting a sign from Mr. McConnell before making their own judgments. It would take 17 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats to find the president guilty, which would allow the Senate to hold a second vote to disqualify Mr. Trump from public office in the future.
Mr. McConnell’s remarks came hours before he was set to meet face to face with his Democratic counterpart, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, to work out a set of rules for the trial and the coming Senate session, when the chamber will be split 50-50 between the parties. Democrats will hold control because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will have the power to break Senate ties, but Mr. Schumer will need at least some cooperation from Mr. McConnell to run the chamber and get things done.
On impeachment, the Republican leader appeared to be striking a far different posture than he did a year ago, when the Senate first sat in judgment of Mr. Trump. Then, Mr. McConnell acted at the White House’s behest to set trial rules that would favor acquittal. Now, he has told allies he hopes never to speak to Mr. Trump again and is doing nothing to persuade senators to back him, instead calling the impeachment vote a matter of conscience.
But as Democrats take unified control of Washington, he warned them that pursuing a partisan agenda would come at their own political risk.
“Certainly November’s election did not hand any side a mandate for sweeping ideological change,” Mr. McConnell said. “Our marching orders from the American people are clear: We’re to have a robust discussion and seek common ground. We are to pursue bipartisan agreement everywhere we can, and check and balance one another respectfully where we must.”
Speaking after Mr. McConnell, Mr. Schumer stressed that the Senate would proceed on three thorny paths at once, convening a trial at the same time as Democrats try to confirm Mr. Biden’s cabinet nominees and begin to draft additional coronavirus relief legislation.
Though some Democrats have fretted that Mr. Trump’s trial will overshadow Mr. Biden’s opening days in office, Mr. Schumer insisted a trial was necessary to eliminate the risk Mr. Trump may continue to pose to the country, even out of office.
“He will continue spreading lies about the election and stoking the grievances of his most radical supporters, using the prospect of a future presidential run to poison the public arena at a time where we must get so much done,” Mr. Schumer said.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. arrived in Washington on Tuesday and led a national mourning for Americans killed by the coronavirus pandemic as the death toll topped 400,000, a gesture to the tragedy the country had endured even as he pledged that light would pierce the darkness.
On the eve of his inauguration as the 46th president of the United States, Mr. Biden flew to the capital from his home in Wilmington, Del., and headed to the Lincoln Memorial, where he presided over a brief ceremony paying tribute to those who had died from Covid-19 in the past year.
“To heal, we must remember,” Mr. Biden said, standing in front of the Reflecting Pool, which was surrounded by 400 lights to commemorate the 400,000 victims of the virus. “It’s hard sometimes to remember. But that’s how we heal. It’s important to do that as a nation. That’s why we’re here today. Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights in the darkness along the sacred pool of reflection and remember all whom we lost.”
As he spoke, the bells at Washington National Cathedral began to chime, and the Empire State Building in New York and the Space Needle in Seattle were lit. Cities from Miami to San Diego also planned to light buildings for the occasion while Mr. Biden’s inaugural committee encouraged Americans to light candles in their windows in a show of national solidarity. Events were also planned for Mr. Biden’s hometowns, Wilmington and Scranton, Pa.
The somber remembrance kicked off two days of in-person and virtual events in Washington as Mr. Biden takes the oath of office on Wednesday at a time of economic struggle and cultural upheaval after President Trump’s four tumultuous years in the White House.
Somber in his demeanor and brief in his remarks, Mr. Biden was joined by his wife, Jill Biden, as well as Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff. Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, delivered the invocation while two acclaimed gospel singers, Yolanda Adams and Lori Marie Key, performed.
The event occurred several hours after Mr. Biden bid an emotional farewell to Delaware, his home state. He choked up a couple times during a send-off ceremony at the Major Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center in New Castle, Del., named for his eldest son, who served in the war in Iraq and was elected as the state’s attorney general before dying of brain cancer in 2015.
“It’s deeply personal that our next journey to Washington starts here, a place that defines the very best of who we are as Americans,” the president-elect told a small crowd of allies and supporters before heading to a chartered white and gray passenger jet. “I know these are dark times, but there’s always light. That’s what makes this state so special. That’s what it taught me: There’s always light.”
Paraphrasing the Irish writer James Joyce, who once said, “When I die, Dublin will be written on my heart,” Mr. Biden paused to compose himself and his voice trembled. “Excuse the emotion, but when I die, Delaware will be written on my heart,” he said. Referring to Beau Biden, he added, “I only have one regret, that he’s not here. We should be introducing him as president.”
Mr. Biden was flying to the nation’s capital rather than taking the train — his favorite mode of transportation — because of security concerns less than two weeks after a mob encouraged by Mr. Trump stormed the Capitol and temporarily halted the counting of the Electoral College votes ratifying Mr. Biden’s victory.
Mr. Biden noted during the event in Delaware that 12 years ago he assumed the vice presidency as the partner of a Black man, Barack Obama, and that on Wednesday he would assume the presidency as the partner of a Black and South Asian woman, Kamala D. Harris, who will be sworn in as vice president.
“Don’t tell me things can’t change,” he said. “They can, and they do. That’s America, that’s Delaware, a place of hope and light and limitless possibilities. And I’m honored, I’m truly honored to be your next president and commander in chief, and I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware.”
Mr. Biden is expected to spend Tuesday night at Blair House, the presidential guesthouse on Pennsylvania Avenue, across from the White House.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will propose far-reaching legislation on Wednesday to give millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States a chance to become citizens in as little as eight years, part of an ambitious and politically perilous overhaul intended to wipe away President Trump’s four-year assault on immigration.
Under the proposal that Mr. Biden will send to Congress on his first day in office, current recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as “Dreamers,” and others in temporary programs that were set up to shield some undocumented immigrants from deportation would be allowed to apply for permanent legal residency immediately, according to transition officials who were briefed on Mr. Biden’s plan.
The legislation would also restore and expand programs for refugees and asylum seekers following efforts by Mr. Trump and Stephen Miller, the architect of his immigration agenda, to deny entry to those seeking shelter from poverty, violence and war. Mr. Biden’s bill would inject new money into foreign aid for Central American countries and enhance security at the border with new technologies instead of construction of a border wall.
If passed by Congress, the legislation would profoundly reshape the American immigration system, making it more generous to people from other parts of the world while rejecting the fearful messaging about immigrants employed by Mr. Trump since he became a presidential candidate in 2015.
But Mr. Biden’s proposal will also kick off a contentious new era of debate in the country about how America should treat outsiders, an issue that has been at the center of the breach between the two parties for decades. By sending his immigration proposals to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Mr. Biden is signaling his willingness to step into that political maelstrom during his first days as president.
The immigration bill faces an uncertain future. Democrats narrowly control both chambers of Congress, but Mr. Biden will need bipartisan cooperation, especially in the Senate, where legislation requires 60 votes. Because Democrats hold 50 seats in the chamber, the president-elect will need 10 Republicans to support his efforts in order to pass it into law.
Former President Barack Obama successfully persuaded 68 senators, including fourteen Republicans, to support a comprehensive immigration bill in 2013, only to have the effort die in the Republican-controlled House. Now, with Democrats in charge of the House, the challenge for Mr. Biden will be in the Senate, where almost all of the Republicans who backed Mr. Obama have left.
They include former Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker of Tennessee, Jeff Flake and John McCain of Arizona, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Jeffrey Chiesa of New Jersey, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Dean Heller of Nevada and Mark Kirk of Illinois. Some of them were replaced with more conservative senators who are unlikely to back Mr. Biden’s plan.
During his four years in office, Mr. Trump transformed much of the Republican Party in his image. His core voters — and those of many Republicans now in office — now put immigration at the top of their concerns, and many echo the president’s harsh and overstated messaging about the dangers from immigrants to their lives and livelihoods.
Mr. Biden is betting on his longstanding relationships in the Senate and a backlash to some of Mr. Trump’s more extreme immigration measures, including separating migrant families at the border and forcing asylum-seekers to wait in slumlike facilities in Mexico while their applications for entry are processed.
He is also counting on support from religious and business groups who have long backed a more robust system of immigration. Catholic organizations argue that the country is morally obliged to be more generous to those seeking refuge, while groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce say the country needs immigrants to remain competitive.
President Trump delivered a defiant and unapologetic farewell speech to the nation in a video released on Tuesday, declaring that he “took on the tough battles” and vowing that “the movement we started is only just beginning.”
Mr. Trump, who has not appeared in public in days and remained in seclusion at the White House in his final hours in office, sought to frame his administration as a period of progress despite the coronavirus pandemic that has now killed 400,000 Americans and the divisions that led to the storming of the Capitol this month by a mob of his supporters.
“I did not seek the easiest course,” Mr. Trump said in the 20-minute video, posted online the day before he leaves office. “By far, it was actually the most difficult. I did not seek the path that would get the least criticism. I took on the tough battles, the hardest fights, the most difficult choices, because that’s what you elected me to do. Your needs were my first and last unyielding focus. This, I hope, will be our greatest legacy.”
Mr. Trump made no explicit concession to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., nor did he mention his name. After months of falsely claiming that he did not lose and trying to overturn the results of the election, Mr. Trump has scorned the traditional transition of power, refusing to invite Mr. Biden for the customary postelection visit to the White House and opting to skip the inaugural ceremony on Wednesday.
But he did offer well wishes to his successor without naming him. “This week, we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous,” Mr. Trump said. “We extend our best wishes, and we also want them to have luck, a very important word.”
In listing what he sees as his accomplishments, the departing president cited the strong economy before the outbreak of the pandemic, his tax cuts and regulation curbs, his judicial appointments including three Supreme Court justices, his revision of the North American Free Trade Agreement, his investment of additional money in the military, the normalization of relations between Israel and several of its Arab neighbors and his confrontations with China and Iran. “I am especially proud to be the first president in decades who has started no new wars,” he said.
Mr. Trump again condemned the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol without acknowledging any responsibility for encouraging his supporters, for which he has been impeached by the House and faces trial by the Senate. “All Americans were horrified by the assault on our Capitol,” he said. “Political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as Americans. It can never be tolerated.”
Likewise, as the death toll from the pandemic reached a macabre new benchmark, he offered no regrets about his handling of the virus, which he repeatedly dismissed and said would simply disappear. He claimed credit for the record-fast development of vaccines, which even some opponents have praised him for, but made no mention of the troubles that have slowed their distribution.
As he faced a new chapter of life deprived of his favorite tools of communication, he took another jab at the “political censorship” and “blacklisting” by social media companies that have locked him out of his accounts, citing his many false and incendiary messages. YouTube said on Tuesday that it was extending its suspension of Mr. Trump’s channel for at least another seven days, preventing him from uploading new content or streaming video until next week, because of “concerns about the ongoing potential for violence.”
“Shutting down free and open debate violates our core values and most enduring tradition,” Mr. Trump said in his video. “In America, we don’t insist on absolute conformity or enforce rigid orthodoxies and punitive speech codes. We just don’t do that.”
He plans to leave the White House early Wednesday morning and attend a farewell event with current and former administration officials at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington before flying to Florida, landing an hour before Mr. Biden takes the oath of office in the act that will formally end the Trump presidency. But Mr. Trump made clear he would not go away and be silent.
“Now, as I prepare to hand power over to a new administration at noon on Wednesday,” he said, “I want you to know that the movement we started is only just beginning.”
Daisuke Wakabayashi contributed reporting.
The Senate had a jam-packed schedule of hearings on Tuesday to begin considering President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s nominees for his cabinet, but the process has been badly delayed, likely making Mr. Biden the first president in decades to take office without his national security team in place on Day 1.
The delay by congressional Republicans in recognizing Mr. Biden’s election victory, coupled with two Georgia runoff elections that left the Senate majority up in the air until Jan. 5, held up confirmation hearings for Mr. Biden’s team. That has made it impossible for the Senate to move quickly to fill top national security posts, including the secretary of defense, a job normally filled immediately after the president takes office to illustrate continuity of American power.
Senate committees kicked off hearings on Tuesday for five nominees: Janet Yellen to be Treasury secretary, Alejandro N. Mayorkas to be secretary of homeland security, Avril D. Haines to be director of national intelligence, Lloyd J. Austin III to be secretary of defense and Antony J. Blinken to be secretary of state.
Here is an overview of the hearings:
The nomination of General Austin, a retired three-star general, faces a double hurdle: In addition to ordinary confirmation, he needs a special waiver to join the cabinet because he was an active-duty officer within the last seven years. While Congress approved a similar measure for Mr. Trump’s first defense secretary, Jim Mattis, lawmakers in both parties have balked at doing it again.
Mr. Blinken’s hearing included discussions of conflict zones around the world, coming back repeatedly to China and the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran, from which the Trump administration withdrew in 2018. Mr. Blinken made clear on Tuesday that Tehran would have to come back into compliance with the deal for the United States to lift sanctions.
Mr. Mayorkas, a deputy secretary of homeland security in the Obama administration, testified before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs panel. If confirmed, he would be tasked with restoring stability to an agency that has been riddled with vacancies and led by a revolving door of acting officials.
Ms. Haines, appearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, pledged to help the F.B.I. and Department of Homeland Security with a public, written intelligence assessment of the threat posed by QAnon, a wide-ranging conspiracy theory movement that was involved in the riot at the Capitol this month.
At the Finance Committee, Ms. Yellen told lawmakers that investing in vaccine distribution and expanded jobless benefits would provide the biggest “bang” for the economy in a future stimulus package, arguing that additional stimulus measures should be focused on those hardest hit by the pandemic.
Anticipating the delays, the Biden administration has indicated it will place acting secretaries at the head of most agencies, including an appointee of Mr. Trump, David L. Norquist, at the Pentagon.
Given the unconventional transition, marked by the outgoing administration’s refusal to recognize its defeat, the way Senate Republicans handle the Biden cabinet nominations will provide an early indication of how cooperative they intend to be with the new president. Republicans have complained that Democrats subjected Trump nominees to excessive delays, and they might want to return the favor.
Jennifer Steinhauer, Lara Jakes, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Alan Rappeport and Julian Barnes contributed reporting.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has tapped Pennsylvania’s secretary of health, Rachel Levine, to be the assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services. She would be the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate.
Mr. Biden has pledged to transgender and gender-nonconforming people in the United States and around the world that he will fight for their safety and dignity. His promise stands in stark contrast to the efforts of the Trump administration, which over the past four years has chipped away at protections.
In her current position, Dr. Levine has led Pennsylvania’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Dr. Rachel Levine will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic — no matter their ZIP code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond,” Mr. Biden said in a statement Tuesday. “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”
Almost two months after resigning as New York City’s transportation commissioner, Polly Trottenberg was nominated to become the deputy secretary of the Transportation Department in the Biden administration.
Ms. Trottenberg led the city’s transportation efforts for seven years, and has been on President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s transportation transition team. She would serve under Pete Buttigieg, the former presidential candidate who has been nominated as Transportation secretary. She previously served as an assistant secretary for transportation policy and under secretary for policy in the Obama administration.
“Our nation needs a safe, equitable and environmentally sustainable transportation system that creates jobs and supports economic recovery,” Ms. Trottenberg tweeted Monday, adding that she looked forward to working alongside Mr. Buttigieg and the federal transportation agency “to build back better.”
The Justice Department on Tuesday informed Senator Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina, that it would not pursue insider trading charges against him, according to his lawyer and another person briefed on the decision, quietly ending a monthslong investigation into his dumping of hundreds of thousands of dollars in stock in the turbulent early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision by the department and the Securities and Exchange Commission effectively cleared a cloud of legal jeopardy that has loomed over Mr. Burr since the sales were first disclosed in March. At the crux of the case was whether Mr. Burr, then the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, had acted based on nonpublic information about the contagion that he received at senators-only briefings.
A handful of other senators drew similar scrutiny for their trades over the same period and were cleared in the spring and summer. Mr. Burr’s case proved far more complicated and included grand jury subpoenas and a search of his electronic storage accounts. At one point, the F.B.I. seized his cellphone — a highly invasive tactic for a sitting member of Congress that required signoff by Attorney General William P. Barr.
Mr. Burr, 65, insisted throughout that he had acted within the law, but preemptively stepped down from his Intelligence Committee post to avoid distractions and adopted a low profile in the Senate. He had already planned to retire when his term ends in 2022.
Mr. Burr’s lawyer, Alice Fisher, declined to immediately comment beyond confirming that case had been closed without charges.
President Trump was warned by the White House counsel against granting clemency to Republican lawmakers who might be connected to the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, a person briefed on the discussion said.
The conversation took place on Saturday, as Mr. Trump continued to ask about the possibility of issuing other pardons that the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, had cautioned him against for several weeks, the person briefed on the discussion said. Advisers had repeatedly told Mr. Trump that he should not issue pre-emptive pardons for members of his family, because such a move could harm them in future litigation.
But Mr. Trump had also started asking about pardons for House Republicans who were involved in the rally of Trump supporters that preceded the deadly riot at the Capitol. It was unclear whether lawmakers had directly asked Mr. Trump for clemency that could void any prosecution, but advisers believed that someone had seeded Mr. Trump with the idea, according to the person briefed on the discussion.
The meeting on Saturday was reported earlier by CNN. Mr. Trump’s musings about pardoning relatives, himself and allies like the lawmakers came up repeatedly, even after Mr. Cipollone and other advisers told Mr. Trump that they were dangerous moves that would only harm him.
By Tuesday afternoon, aides said, Mr. Trump had abandoned whatever hope he once had of issuing those pardons. A last-minute spree of pardons and commutations were expected to be announced sometime before midnight, White House officials said, with paperwork being handled until the last minute.
Among the questions that Mr. Trump repeatedly raised with officials on Tuesday morning was whether he should pardon Stephen K. Bannon, his former chief strategist who has been indicted on fraud charges in connection with a wall-building project at the southwestern border. Mr. Bannon has pleaded not guilty. Officials said on Monday that Mr. Bannon’s chances had dimmed, but the president continued to go back and forth about it on Tuesday, even as several aides objected. Mr. Trump appeared to be ensuring that enough people were aware of the back and forth that Mr. Bannon would be made aware that the president had wanted to give him a pardon, and that others did not support it.
Another grant of clemency that Mr. Trump is considering, toward Sheldon Silver, the disgraced New York Assembly speaker, was greeted with intense blowback from elected officials in the state. Mr. Silver, who ruled Democratic politics in New York with an iron fist for years, was convicted twice on corruption charges and sentenced and sent to prison last summer.
“Make no mistake, disgraced former NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver deserves no clemency or pardon,” officials with the New York Republican Party posted on Twitter on Monday, after The Times reported that the president was considering clemency. “Silver deserves to actually serve the jail time that he was sentenced for selling the incredible power he yielded to enrich himself. He was a corrupt and dishonest politician.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York also criticized the possible act by the president. “He’s making a mockery of everything,” Mr. Cuomo said on Tuesday.
One Republican official in New York, who asked not to be identified, said that Mr. Trump’s decision was particularly confounding to local party members because no such granting of clemency was said to be under consideration for Dean Skelos, the Republican former State Senate majority leader, who was convicted on federal corruption charges in 2018.
President Trump, during his one term in office, has used clemency power on behalf of convicted liars and crooked politicians, some of whom have been his friends. But the long list of pardons his team has prepared for him to sign on his final full day in office includes the names of people who have been serving life sentences for drug or fraud charges and who for years have been seeking clemency.
In the past, the administration has emphasized clemency for low-level offenders in order to blunt criticism that Mr. Trump was inappropriately offering pardons to people to whom he had personal connections. Tuesday’s group includes nonviolent offenders whose names have been percolating for years among advocates who believe their punishments never fit their crimes and whose cases underscore the broken nature of the country’s criminal justice system.
The names were recommended by a group that included Alice Johnson, who has been working with #Cut50, a prisoner advocacy group, and Mark Holden, a former executive at Koch Industries. Ms. Johnson herself was granted a full pardon after speaking on Mr. Trump’s behalf at the Republican National Convention and has continued to personally press Mr. Trump and his family members about their cases. The Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney was cut out of the process, as has been typical in the Trump White House.
Among those being pardoned Tuesday, according to people directly involved in the process, are Darrell Frazier, who has served more than 30 years of a life sentence for drug conspiracy charges. During his incarceration, Mr. Frazier founded the Joe Johnson Tennis Foundation, a nonprofit supporting children in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Craig Cesal has been serving a life sentence without parole on a marijuana charge. “My crime was that my truck repair business in Chicago fixed trucks operated by a Florida long-haul trucking company whose drivers trafficked marijuana in the south,” he told The Washington Post in 2016.
Lavonne Roach, a nonviolent drug offender, has been serving a 30-year sentence after she was charged with conspiracy to distribute meth. Ms. Roach, a Lakota Sioux woman, has been in prison since 1994.
Chalana McFarland was sentenced in 2005 to 30 years for multiple counts of mortgage fraud. She was sent to prison when her daughter was 4 years old. Since July, she has been serving her sentence at home because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in Florida prisons.
Michael Pelletier, a paraplegic who has used a wheelchair since he was 11, was serving a life sentence in federal prison for a nonviolent marijuana conspiracy offense.
Most clemency petitions sit with the Office of the Pardon Attorney for years, while certain people serving time on drug or fraud charges have gotten on the president’s radar through direct appeals from advocates the administration has come to rely on.
The final list, expected to be part of a broader package announced Tuesday by the president, was sent to the White House counsel’s office by Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior adviser, for vetting, according to one of the people who is directly involved.
Advocates said they were hopeful that the Biden administration would be able to revamp the clemency process, and that the pardons approved by Mr. Trump would give the next administration some cover with conservatives in the future.
Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said the administration would not comment on the pardons.
The last time a president refused to show up at his successor’s inauguration — Andrew Johnson in 1869 — the United States did not possess the world’s deadliest nuclear arsenal, and it would be seven decades before Washington first established the principle that the commander in chief would be given sole authority to launch it.
So the handoff of power from President Trump to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday includes a grim new piece of choreography involving the fate of two nuclear footballs and — more important — two sets of nuclear launch codes, contained on a card called “the biscuit.”
Mr. Trump’s codes are to go dead at noon, like a canceled credit card. And Mr. Biden’s go live as soon as he is sworn in.
That, at least, is the theory. It has never been tried before at this distance. In past inaugurals in the nuclear age, the football — and all the authentication procedures and the authorities that go with it — moved imperceptibly from the departing president sitting at the dais to the incoming one standing with the chief justice of the United States.
In this case, one football, and Mr. Trump’s biscuit, will be in Florida. Another set, Mr. Biden’s, will be on the West Front of the Capitol, in the same spot where a violent effort to prevent that transition from happening took place two weeks ago.
“This is entirely unusual,” said Scott Sagan, a Stanford University professor who has written extensively on nuclear command and control. “There is no reason to think it wouldn’t work technically.”
But there was a seamlessness to the process when both the incoming and retiring presidents were on the same stage, one that made it harder for an adversary to exploit the transition of power.
“President Trump’s decision not to attend the inaugural just puts an unneeded complication, and some more risk, into this process,” Mr. Sagan added.
The Pentagon will say nothing about how it is preparing for the moment. And Mr. Biden’s transition team would not talk about it either, referring questions back to the departing administration.
But Mr. Biden would not be new to the process. As vice president, and the one who would inherit nuclear launch authority if the president were incapacitated, he would have been briefed often on the elaborate system of authenticating an order.
The Trump administration on Tuesday issued oil and gas leases for parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, fulfilling its goal of selling drilling rights in the long-protected wilderness in northeast Alaska.
The Bureau of Land Management announced that it had signed and issued leases for nine tracts, totaling more than 430,000 acres. The nine were among 11 tracts that received successful bids at an auction earlier this month that raised far less money for the federal treasury than had been first anticipated.
Two companies received leases to a single tract each. The state of Alaska, which bid for the leases through an economic development agency when it appeared that there might be few other takers, received seven leases. The state had successfully bid on nine tracts, and it was not immediately clear why they did not receive leases on all nine.
The incoming president, Joseph R. Biden Jr., opposes drilling in the refuge. The issuance of leases before he takes office may make it difficult for his administration to undo them. But lawsuits against the plan, which have been filed by environmental groups and others who hope to prevent drilling in the area, are still pending. And any plans for exploratory drilling or other work in the refuge will require additional environmental approvals.
A day before they are inaugurated as president and vice president, Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Kamala Harris announced the leaders of a new White House Gender Policy Council that will help guide policy decisions in the new administration.
The policy council — which Mr. Biden has promised to create during his campaign — will be led by Jennifer Klein, the chief strategy and policy officer at the anti-sexual-harassment organization Time’s Up, and Julissa Reynoso, a lawyer and former ambassador who will also be an assistant to the president and chief of staff to the first lady, Jill Biden.
The council is intended to coordinate government policies that affect women, which span a wide range of subject areas and federal agencies. The Biden transition team said it would work with the Domestic Policy Council, the National Economic Council and the National Security Council.
“From health care, the economy, education and national security — every issue is a women’s issue,” Susan E. Rice, the incoming Domestic Policy Council director, said in a statement from the transition team announcing the creation of the new council.
Mr. Biden noted in the same statement that the coronavirus pandemic had exacerbated many of the economic and personal inequities women already faced.
Sandra Broome-Edwards, 67, has worn pearls every day since early January.
“I’ve been sitting at home watching ‘Good Morning America’ with my pearls on,” she said. “It’s my way of acknowledging the momentous occasion that is coming.”
Ms. Broome-Edwards is one of over 430,000 women who are members of a Facebook group called “Wear Pearls on Jan 20th, 2021.” The idea is to honor Kamala Harris, the country’s first female Vice President-elect, who wore her signature pearls when she graduated Howard University, was sworn into Congress, grilled Brett Kavanaugh, debated Vice President Mike Pence, as she received her Covid-19 vaccine and likely, again when she is sworn on Wednesday.
“They represent sisterhood,” said Darnell-Jamal Lisby, a fashion historian. They are also the symbol of Ms. Harris’s sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, which she joined while at Howard, a historically Black college.
The group was started in early December by Hope Aloaye, 46, a retired navy chief who lives in Orange Park, Fla. “I woke up and thought, ‘We need to come together as women not just to celebrate Kamala Harris, but ourselves,’” she said.
Within three days, the group had 1,000 followers. Within a week, it reached 30,000. Demand has been so high that Ms. Aloaye tapped 20 volunteers to help her vet requests to be admitted to the group ensure there are no bad actors.
With few opportunities to leave the house during the pandemic, some women are excited for any excuse to put on their pearls. “I might run out to the grocery store that morning just so people can see me wearing them with a big smile on my face,” said Jan Thompson Gorniak, 53, a forensic pathologist in Las Vegas.
Ms. Gorniak was buying their first set of pearls so she could be part of this community. On Jan. 2, she went to Zales and bought a long strand of pearls for her 53rd birthday. “Now I think they say, ‘I am dainty, but at the same time, I have strength,’” she said.
Two members of the organization Super Happy Fun America, an advocacy group for the “straight community,” were arrested on Tuesday for their alleged involvement in the Capitol rampage on Jan. 6.
The group, which organized a Straight Pride Parade in Boston in 2019 and whose website displays the motto “It’s Great to be Straight,” claimed to have brought nearly a dozen buses to Washington before President Trump’s rally and the subsequent riot at the Capitol.
In court documents, an F.B.I. special agent corroborated a local news report that placed the two members of the organization — Susan Ianni of Natick, Mass., and Mark Sahady of Malden, Mass. — inside the Capitol. A photograph at the riot appeared to show Ms. Ianni in a blue jacket with her fist raised and Mr. Sahady beside her. The F.B.I. special agent also identified Ms. Ianni and Mr. Sahady in a photograph posted to Twitter by Super Happy Fun America the day before the riot, showing them smiling with thumbs up to the camera, among others on what appeared to be a bus.
On the Facebook page New England for Trump, Ms. Ianni — a member of Natick’s local governing body, the Town Meeting — is listed as a contact for the buses to Mr. Trump’s rally departing from Newton, Mass. She claimed to be the lead organizer for the buses that left Massachusetts but declined to comment when asked by a local reporter if she had entered the U.S. Capitol, saying “too many people were arrested wrongly for a peaceful protest after being waived in by Capitol Police,” according to The MetroWest Daily News.
The F.B.I. special agent identified Mr. Sahady as the vice president of Super Happy Fun America. From a Twitter account that the F.B.I. said belonged to him but has since been suspended, Mr. Sahady appeared to spread the false claim that the election had been stolen, urged others to attend the riot and labeled Mr. Trump as the “legitimate President,” according to the F.B.I.
In one ominous tweet, the F.B.I. special agent added, Mr. Sahady said, “January 6 — Washington, DC — It begins.”
At least 19 Capitol Police officers either tested positive for the coronavirus or were found through contact tracing to have been exposed since a mob of Trump supporters — most of them not wearing masks — attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to three people familiar with the matter.
They are the latest additions to a growing tally of people who have been infected since the deadly riot at the Capitol. Seven members of Congress have tested positive since the attack; some House Democrats have pointed to their Republican colleagues who did not wear masks while they were sheltering from rioters and forced into secure hiding for hours.
One of the people, who was not authorized to speak on the record about internal department matters, said that Capitol Police officers were being given rapid coronavirus tests to help determine which other officers may have contracted the virus from the Capitol siege.
Federal prosecutors have unsealed the first conspiracy case against a suspected leader of the Oath Keepers — a right-wing militia that specializes in recruiting current and former police officers and members of the military — in connection with the Jan. 6 riot of Trump supporters at the Capitol.
In a criminal complaint and affidavit unsealed on Tuesday, Thomas Edward Caldwell, 65, of Clarke County in rural Virginia, was accused of conspiring to commit a federal offense, along with obstruction of an official proceeding, unlawful entry into a restricted building, and violent or disorderly conduct.
Prosecutors signaled that more such charges may be coming. While much of the riot was chaotic, the Oath Keepers have attracted scrutiny as a potential node of organized and premeditated violence. An F.B.I. affidavit against Mr. Caldwell noted that video from around the start of the melee showed a group of people wearing paramilitary clothing with Oath Keeper paraphernalia. Those people in the video, the affidavit says, “move in an organized and practiced fashion and force their way to the front of the crowd gathered around a door to the U.S. Capitol.”
That evening, it says, Mr. Caldwell sent a picture of the riot to someone on Facebook Messenger stating, “Us storming the castle” and “I am such an instigator!” He also wrote to someone, “We need to do this at the local level. Lets storm the capitol in Ohio. Tell me when!”
The affidavit also quotes a Facebook Message he had sent on New Year’s Day urging a group of militia members to book a room at a Comfort Inn in a suburb of Washington in northern Virginia, remarking, “This is a good location and would allow us to go hunting at night if we wanted to.”
On Tuesday, federal prosecutors also unsealed charges against Tam Dinh Pham, an 18-year veteran of the Houston Police Department. In an interview with F.B.I. agents last week, Mr. Pham said he had gone to Washington on Jan. 6 for “business” and attended President Trump’s speech near the White House but did not go on to the Capitol building.
When the agents asked to look at the photos on Mr. Pham’s cellphone, he said he had deleted them, court papers say. But in a file for deleted photos, there were several showing Mr. Pham inside the Capitol, including one of him pointing at a “TRUMP 2020” flag hanging from a statue. Mr. Pham resigned from the Houston Police Department last week, while he was under investigation.
Multiculturalism “is not who America is,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on his last full day at the State Department, a curious message from a diplomat whose own ancestors were immigrants from Italy, and one that ran counter to the United States’ long-held pride in being a melting pot of cultures.
In a post on Twitter, Mr. Pompeo, who has overseen a State Department where diplomats of color have been ignored, passed over or otherwise pressured to resign, also decried what he described as a sop to political correctness that he said “points in one direction — authoritarianism.”
“Wokeism, multiculturalism, all the -isms — they’re not who America is,” Mr. Pompeo wrote. “They distort our glorious founding and what this country is all about. Our enemies stoke these divisions because they know they make us weaker.”
The tweet infuriated American diplomats abroad and in the United States who described it as a final insult by an administration that has promoted far more white male Foreign Service Officers than women or people of color. Black and Hispanic diplomats each make up 8 percent of the Foreign Service, and Asians account for 7 percent, according to State Department data from March, the most recent available.
Mr. Pompeo’s post was particularly notable in that it came the day before Kamala Harris will be inaugurated as the first woman of color to hold the office of vice president.
Mr. Pompeo’s remarks may have been aimed at political conservatives he hopes to win over in future campaigns for office, including, possibly, a bid the presidency in 2024. It may also be a final dig at the 1619 Project, a New York Times project that reframes American history around the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans, which Mr. Pompeo has criticized repeatedly.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. moves into the White House on Wednesday facing many weighty issues: a global pandemic. A crushing recession. Racial injustice. Right-wing extremism.
But Mr. Biden’s personal exercise regimen will face a different kind of burning question: Can he bring his Peloton bike with him?
The answer, cybersecurity experts say, is yes. Sort of.
A Peloton, for the uninitiated, is part indoor stationary bike, part social media network. The bikes are expensive — upward of $2,500 apiece — and have tablets attached, enabling riders to livestream or take on-demand classes and communicate with one another.
When Mr. Biden was cloistered during the coronavirus surge this spring, The New York Times reported that he began each day “with a workout in an upstairs gym that contains a Peloton bike, weights and a treadmill.” The Biden team did not respond to requests for comment, but a person close to the president-elect said that Mr. Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, engage in regular morning negotiations over who gets to ride first.
But the Peloton tablets have built-in cameras and microphones that allow users to see and hear one another if they choose, and for Mr. Biden, therein lies the rub. The last thing the C.I.A. wants is the Russians and the Chinese peering or listening into the White House gymnasium. Last week, Popular Mechanics warned about the security risk under the headline “Why Joe Biden Can’t Bring His Peloton to the White House.”
The article prompted an explosion of chatter in Peloton world, but really, cybersecurity experts say, if Mr. Biden wants his bike, he can surely have it, though it might bear little resemblance to the off-the-assembly-line version after the Secret Service and the National Security Agency are finished with it.
Peloton does not exactly comport with Mr. Biden’s “regular guy from Scranton” political persona. But for Mr. Biden, who at 78 will be the oldest person to be sworn in as president, riding a Peloton makes good political sense, even if it clashes with Working Class Joe. President Trump spent much of last year’s campaign trying to persuade Americans that Mr. Biden is feeble — an argument Mr. Biden dispensed with when a Fox News clip of him riding his bike through the streets of Delaware went viral.
“I wasn’t really thinking of him as an energetic young guy, but the fact that he rides his Peloton for exercise means to me that he has more energy than I thought he did,” said Jennifer Loukissas, a federal employee who rides her Peloton at home in Kensington, Md.
Ms. Loukissas said she had spent some time trying to discern Mr. Biden’s Peloton leader board name. “I looked up all of the Joe Scrantons I could think of,” she said, in a reference to Mr. Biden’s birthplace. “None of them seemed to match up.”