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President Biden’s Inauguration Live Updates: The Latest News

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Highlights From President Biden’s Inauguration

President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. In his inaugural address, Mr. Biden focused on the challenges facing the nation and called for unity.

“My fellow Americans … … this is America’s day.” Singing: “And the home of the brave.” “Please raise your right hand and repeat after me.” “I, Kamala Devi Harris, do solemnly swear.” “That I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” “So help me God.” “I, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., do solemnly swear.” “That I will faithfully execute.” “That I will faithfully execute.” “The Office of President of the United States.” “The Office of President of the United States.” “So help you God.” “So help me God.” “Congratulations, Mr. President.” “We’ve learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile, and at this hour my friends, democracy has prevailed. We’ll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril, and significant possibilities. Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build and much to gain. And here we stand, just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people. It did not happen. It will never happen. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever. Not ever. 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. If you still disagree, so be it. That’s democracy. That’s America. Yet here me clearly. Disagreement must not lead to disunion. And I pledge this to you. I will be a president for all Americans — all Americans. I’d like to ask you to join me in a moment of silent prayer. Remember all those who we lost this past year to the pandemic, those 400,000 fellow Americans … … amen. Together, we shall write an American story of hope, not fear. Of unity, not division. Of light, not darkness. A story of decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness. May this be the story that guides us. May God bless America and may God protect our troops. Thank you, America.” “I wish the new administration great luck and great success.”

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President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. In his inaugural address, Mr. Biden focused on the challenges facing the nation and called for unity.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, taking office at a moment of profound economic, health and political crises with a promise to seek unity after a tumultuous four years that tore at the fabric of American society.

With his hand on a five-inch-thick Bible that has been in his family for 128 years, Mr. Biden recited the 35-word oath of office swearing to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution” in a ceremony administered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., completing the process at 11:49 a.m., 11 minutes before the authority of the presidency formally changed hands.

The ritual transfer of power came shortly after Kamala Devi Harris was sworn in as vice president by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, her hand on a Bible that once belonged to Thurgood Marshall, the civil rights icon and Supreme Court justice. Ms. Harris’s ascension made her the highest-ranking woman in the history of the United States and the first Black American and first person of South Asian descent to hold the nation’s second highest office.

“This is America’s day,” Mr. Biden said as he began his Inaugural Address. “This is democracy’s day.”

After a deeply tumultuous transition, including the storming of the Capitol by supporters of now-former President Donald J. Trump, “democracy has prevailed,” Mr. Biden said, in a speech that immediately laid out the contrast between himself and his predecessor.

“Few people in our nation’s history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we’re in now,” Mr. Biden said, before explicitly acknowledging the devastating toll of the coronavirus in a way Mr. Trump never did.

“To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America, requires so much more than words,” Mr. Biden added. “It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy: unity.”

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Mr. Biden’s plea for the country to come together echoed a defining theme of his presidential campaign, a message that has only taken on greater urgency in recent weeks.

“We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal,” he said. “We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.”

And four years after Mr. Trump spoke of “American carnage” in his Inaugural Address, Mr. Biden seemed to offer a direct rebuttal.

“Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path,” he said. “Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.”

The ceremony on a chilly, breezy day with a smattering of snowflakes brought to a close the stormy and divisive four-year presidency of Mr. Trump. In characteristic fashion, Mr. Trump once again defied tradition by leaving Washington hours before the swearing-in of his successor rather than face the reality of his own election defeat, although Mike Pence, his vice president, did attend.

[Read the transcript of the president’s Inaugural Address with analysis from Times reporter Glenn Thrush.]

Mr. Trump flew to Florida, where he plans to live at his Mar-a-Lago estate. But within days, the Senate will open the former president’s impeachment trial on the charge that he incited an insurrection by encouraging the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 in an attempt to stop the final receipt of the Electoral College votes ratifying his defeat. The tumult of the past four years is not at all over.

“Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson,” Mr. Biden said in his address. “There is truth and there are lies.”

But he sought to emphasize the long arc of history.

“Here we stand, looking out on the great Mall where Dr. King spoke of his dream,” he said. “Here we stand, where 108 years ago at another inaugural, thousands of protesters tried to block brave women marching for the right to vote. And 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.”

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Kamala Harris Is Sworn In as Vice President

Kamala Harris was sworn in, becoming the first woman and the first woman of color to serve as vice president. Her oath of office was administered by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

“Please raise your right hand and repeat after me. I, Kamala Devi Harris, do solemnly swear.” “I, Kamala Devi Harris, do solemnly swear.” “That I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” “That I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” “Against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” “Against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” “That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” “That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” “That I take this obligation freely.” “That I take this obligation freely.” “Without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.” “Without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.” “That I will well and faithfully discharge.” ”That I will well and faithfully discharge.” “The duties of the office on which I am about to enter.” “The duties of the office upon which I am about to enter.” “So help me God.” “So help me God.” [applause]

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Kamala Harris was sworn in, becoming the first woman and the first woman of color to serve as vice president. Her oath of office was administered by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

On Wednesday, 232 years after John Adams became the nation’s first vice president, Kamala Harris became the first woman — and the first woman of color — sworn into the office. The history-making moment is a milestone for Americans who have fought tirelessly for generations to see faces that resemble their own in the government’s executive branch.

But Ms. Harris’s role in the new administration will be much more than a symbolic one.

With the Senate now split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, Ms. Harris may find herself casting the decisive vote in many crucial moments, as the vice president wields tiebreaking power. Ambitious legislation on the coronavirus, the economy, climate change and other policy matters will be high on President Biden’s agenda, and her vote may prove critical. One of her first official acts in her new role will be to swear in three new Democratic senators.

Many expect Mr. Biden will also rely on her prosecutorial chops and her personal energy as a crucial member of the administration. And given speculation that Mr. Biden, who is 78, may not seek a second term, Ms. Harris is sure to face intense scrutiny over her own political future.

But for many, it’s the voice she will offer to women and people of color that was being reflected on as she took office.

“That’s so important, to have a Black woman, a South Asian woman’s perspective, on the big issues that this administration has to tackle,” said Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California and a longtime ally of Ms. Harris’s. “She’ll bring a justice lens, a racial justice lens, racial equity, to everything and every policy and every decision that’s going to be made.”

Across the country, women are wearing pearls on Wednesday to mark the occasion, a nod to the signature pearls that Ms. Harris has worn throughout major milestones in her life, and is likely to wear again when she is sworn in for her history-making turn as the first female vice president. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who as the first woman of color to serve on the Supreme Court has broken barriers of her own, administered the oath.

Hillary Clinton, the only woman ever to receive a major party’s presidential nomination, highlighted the barrier-breaking nature of Ms. Harris’s achievement in a tweet on Wednesday.

“It delights me to think that what feels historical and amazing to us today — a woman sworn in to the vice presidency — will seem normal, obvious, “of course” to Kamala’s grand-nieces as they grow up,” she wrote, posting a photo of Ms. Harris with the two little girls. “And they will be right.”

With the inauguration of Ms. Harris as vice president, her husband, Douglas Emhoff, 56, had two firsts of his own: the first “second gentleman” and the first Jewish spouse of a president or vice president. The details of what Mr. Emhoff, an entertainment lawyer, might do with the platform are unclear, but he has discussed focusing on “access to justice.”

An earlier version of this post misstated when John Adams became the vice president. It was 232 years ago, not 212 years ago.

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Kamala Harris Swears In New Democratic Senators

Vice President Kamala Harris swore in three new senators Wednesday: Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, and Alex Padilla of California. Democrats now have narrow control of the Senate.

“If the Senators-elect and Senator-designate will now present themselves at the desk, the chair will administer the oath of office.” “Mr. Ossoff, Mr. Padilla, Mr. Warnock.” “Please raise your right hand. OK, do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that you will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to enter so help you God?” Senators: “I do.” “Congratulations.” [applause]

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Vice President Kamala Harris swore in three new senators Wednesday: Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, and Alex Padilla of California. Democrats now have narrow control of the Senate.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Democrats on Wednesday officially claimed control of the Senate as Vice President Kamala Harris swore in two newly elected Democratic senators from Georgia and her successor from California, bringing the party’s tally of seats to 50.

With Republicans also holding 50 seats, Ms. Harris gives the Democrats majority status because of the vice president’s ability to break ties as president of the Senate.

Just hours after taking her own oath of office outside the Capitol, Ms. Harris was greeted with a standing ovation in the well of the Senate, where she administered the oaths to Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia, who won Jan. 5 runoff elections, as well as Alex Padilla of California, who was appointed to fill the vice president’s seat and became the state’s first Latino senator.

Before doing so, she read from an official document referring to Mr. Padilla as the appointee to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of “former Senator Kamala D. Harris of California,” then let out a loud laugh and commented, “That was very weird.”

It marked an unusual beginning for the three men, who attended a presidential inauguration on their first day as senators and will count deliberating and voting in an impeachment trial as some of their earliest acts in office.

As jurors weighing whether former President Donald J. Trump should be convicted of “incitement of insurrection” for his role in egging on the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, the three men will be the only senators who were not present when the throng of pro-Trump rioters stormed the building.

With an evenly divided Senate for the first time since 2000, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, now the majority leader, and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the top Republican, have yet to reach an agreement on how the chamber will operate. Mr. McConnell is pushing for a commitment from Democrats to leave the filibuster intact as part of any deal, a demand that Democrats are resisting.

Some progressive Democrats want their party to change longstanding Senate rules to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for advancing legislation, which would allow President Biden to push through his agenda over unified Republican opposition.

Avril D. Haines arriving before a confirmation hearing with the Senate Intelligence committee on Tuesday.
Avril D. Haines arriving before a confirmation hearing with the Senate Intelligence committee on Tuesday.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Lawmakers cleared the way for a Senate vote Wednesday night to confirm Avril D. Haines as the director of national intelligence, striking a last-ditch deal to avoid breaking the long tradition of confirming a new president’s top national security officials on Inauguration Day.

The vote had been in doubt after a Republican, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, put up a roadblock to Ms. Haines’s confirmation, demanding that she first commit in writing that she would not seek to reopen investigations into the C.I.A.’s use of torture following in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to aides familiar with the situation.

In a post on Twitter earlier on Wednesday, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, said he was skipping President Biden’s inauguration ceremony to try and expedite a vote on Ms. Haines’s confirmation. And by around 6 p.m., Senator Charles Schumer, the incoming majority leader, said a deal had been reached to vote on Ms. Haines’s confirmation shortly.

His announcement came not long after Mr. Cotton took to the Senate floor to say his objection had been resolved.

The lifting of the hold ensured that Mr. Biden would not be the first president in decades to end his Inauguration Day without at least some of his Cabinet in place — although unlike past presidents, he will not have any other members of his national security team in place immediately, a custom meant to signify the continuity of American power as the presidency changes hands. The confirmation process has been delayed this year because of the unusual nature of the presidential transition — in which the outgoing president never conceded and Republicans declined for weeks to recognize Mr. Biden’s victory — and the late resolution of two Georgia races that left the balance of power in the Senate up in the air until two weeks ago.

Mr. Cotton, another member of the intelligence panel, had questioned Ms. Haines during a closed session of her confirmation hearing on Tuesday about the role of intelligence review boards in scrutinizing the C.I.A.’s use of torture and whether she would seek to reopen old investigations into the agency’s post-Sept. 11 practices. One congressional staff member said Ms. Haines, who was the C.I.A.’s deputy director from 2013 to 2015, had clarified her response privately to Mr. Cotton, but the senator wanted her answer in writing.

Mr. Cotton, in his written question to Ms. Haines, said that in the closed session following her public testimony she had said that any move to expand the mandate of intelligence review boards would be “forward looking,” and that she would not try to revive the Obama administration’s examination of the C.I.A.’s interrogation program, use of torture or programs to send captured terrorists to other countries for questioning.

“Can you confirm that you will not reinvigorate efforts to prosecute, take administrative action against, or prejudice in any future promotion or selection panels any C.I.A. officer involved with that program under D.O.J. guidance and presidential direction?” Mr. Cotton wrote in his question.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Mr. Cotton said that Ms. Haines had clarified that she had no intention of reopening old investigations or retroactively exposing intelligence officers to criminal prosecution.

“She’s confirmed that in the written record,” Mr. Cotton said. “I’m glad to see we’re not going to reopen that period. I want to thank Ms. Haines for providing the answer.”

President Biden hugging the first lady, Jill Biden, at the White House.
President Biden hugging the first lady, Jill Biden, at the White House.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden was sworn into an office he has sought for more than 30 years, and Vice President Kamala Harris became the first woman — and the first woman of color — to hold that title. But there was no crowd on the National Mall to celebrate the moment.

Instead, there was a sea of flags representing the people who could not be there because of the pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans, and the streets of Washington were filled with 25,000 National Guard troops deployed to prevent a repeat of the riot former President Donald J. Trump incited at the Capitol two weeks ago.

It was, as Mr. Trump might have put it, an inauguration the likes of which no one has seen before.

A few hours later, Mr. Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, stepped out of the presidential limousine and walked the final stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, accompanied by their grandchildren. Shortly before 4 p.m., to the notes of “Hail to the Chief,” they entered their new home and the door closed behind them.

The Bidens’ day began with Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, after which they and Ms. Harris arrived at the Capitol — the latter accompanied by Officer Eugene Goodman of the Capitol Police, who has been praised for leading rioters away from the Senate chamber after they stormed the building. In coats and gloves, before gathered lawmakers and dignitaries, they took the oaths of office: Mr. Biden from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Ms. Harris from Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

A field of flags was planted on the National Mall to represent the thousands of Americans who would normally attend the inauguration.Credit…Jason Andrew for The New York Times

The traditional ceremonies of the transfer of power went off without a hitch, and the widespread, potentially violent right-wing protests that law enforcement had feared around the country did not materialize — a reminder that in spite of the extraordinary circumstances, and Mr. Trump’s explicit efforts to undermine it, American democracy remained intact.

“This is the day when our democracy picks itself back up, brushes off the dust and does what America always does: goes forward as a nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota — the top Democrat on the Senate Rules Committee, which organized the inaugural — told the television cameras.

The oaths of office were bookended by Lady Gaga singing the national anthem and Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, captivating the small crowd with a poem that she finished writing after the riot at the Capitol.

The new president and vice president left the Capitol shortly after noon, but the formalities were not over. Around 1:30 p.m., they returned for a traditional gift-giving ceremony. Between them, they received — among other things — a painting on loan from the Smithsonian, custom-made crystal vases and the flags that flew over the Capitol during the inauguration.

Then they watched the traditional “Pass in Review” by representatives of the nation’s armed services and visited Arlington National Cemetery, where they participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Ms. Harris later in the day swore in the Senate’s three incoming members: Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, elected this month in Georgia, and Alex Padilla, who will replace Ms. Harris as the junior senator from California.

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Former presidents and first ladies and leaders from both parties attended President Biden’s inauguration.CreditCredit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Three of the five living former presidents — Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — attended the inauguration and accompanied Mr. Biden to Arlington National Cemetery later in the day. Former President Jimmy Carter, who is 96, stayed home for health reasons.

The newest addition to that group, Mr. Trump, chose to leave Washington rather than attend the inauguration and confront the reality of his loss, breaking from the tradition of almost every departing president in United States history. A small group of activists celebrated at Washington’s Black Lives Matter Plaza as he left the White House and boarded Marine One.

“Have a good life,” he told supporters at Joint Base Andrews, discarding prepared remarks before his final trip on Air Force One took him to West Palm Beach, Fla.

Vice President Mike Pence, who enraged Mr. Trump two weeks ago by following the Constitution and affirming Mr. Biden’s victory, was present along with his wife, Karen Pence, as his own job was turned over to Ms. Harris.

When the ceremony was over, Ms. Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, escorted the Pences out.

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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Biden Walks Down Pennsylvania Avenue

President Biden strolled down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House surrounded by his family, an inaugural tradition.

[cheering] “How are you feeling?” “Feeling great.” “We love you!” “Thank you.”

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President Biden strolled down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House surrounded by his family, an inaugural tradition.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

With the coronavirus pandemic curtailing the traditional presidential parade from the Capitol to the White House, the inauguration of President Biden replaced it with a made-for-screens montage of performers from all 56 states, territories and Washington, D.C.

Mr. Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, entered the White House for the first time as the first family shortly before 4 p.m., and the virtual “Parade Across America” kicked off.

The hourlong festivities were hosted by Tony Goldwyn, who played the president on the TV show “Scandal,” and included appearances by the former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, a reunion of the band New Radicals, an epic nationwide dance-off called Dance Across America, and Nathan Apodaca, the Idaho man who went viral on TikTok this summer for skateboarding while drinking cranberry juice and listening to Fleetwood Mac.

Among the performing groups were a student equestrian team from Culver Academies in Indiana, a tap dancing squad from Boone, N.C., the Kilgore College Rangerettes from Texas (who danced before replica oil derricks) and Bango, the mascot of the Milwaukee Bucks pro basketball franchise. (Remember, the Democratic National Convention was supposed to take place in the Bucks’ arena.)

The virtual event replicated the highly entertaining Democratic National Convention roll call, an event widely remembered for its montage celebrating America’s most iconic scenery, along with Rhode Island’s calamari.

The Bidens and Vice President Kamala Harris entered the White House following a small group marching in Washington that included drumlines from the alma maters of Mr. Biden (University of Delaware) and Ms. Harris (Howard University). According to the Presidential Inaugural Committee, the virtual parade included 1,391 participants, 95 horses and nine dogs.

President Biden signing executive orders in his first minutes in the Oval Office on Wednesday. 
President Biden signing executive orders in his first minutes in the Oval Office on Wednesday. Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden unleashed a full-scale assault on his predecessor’s legacy on Wednesday, acting hours after taking the oath of office to sweep aside former President Donald J. Trump’s pandemic response, reverse his environmental agenda, tear down his anti-immigration policies, bolster the sluggish economic recovery and restore federal efforts aimed at promoting diversity.

Moving with an urgency not seen from any other modern president, Mr. Biden signed 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations from the Oval Office on Wednesday afternoon. Among the actions the president took were orders to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and end Mr. Trump’s travel ban on Muslim and African countries.

Individually, the actions are targeted at what the president views as specific, egregious abuses by Mr. Trump during four turbulent years. Collectively, Mr. Biden’s assertive use of executive authority was intended to be a hefty and visible down payment on one of his primary goals: to, as his top advisers described it, “reverse the gravest damages” done to the country by Mr. Trump.

“We’ll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities,” Mr. Biden said during his inaugural address at the Capitol. “Much to repair. Much to restore. Much to heal. Much to build, and much to gain.”

In his remarks, Mr. Biden stressed unity of purpose, urging Americans to “see each other not as adversaries but as neighbor” and pleaded with citizens and leaders to “join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature.”

But his first actions in office were aimed not at compromise and cooperation with his adversaries, but instead suggested a determination to quickly erase much of the Trump agenda. They fell within four broad categories that his aides described as the “converging crises” he inherited at noon Wednesday: the pandemic, economic struggles, immigration and diversity issues, and the environment and climate change.

Moments after Mr. Biden’s inaugural address, the leader of a conservative advocacy group underscored the divisiveness that remains in Washington, accusing the president of taking Day 1 actions that “will make America less safe, less free, and less prosperous.”

In some cases, Mr. Biden’s actions unilaterally and immediately reversed policies and procedures that Mr. Trump had put in place. In other instances, limits on his authority require the president to direct others in his administration to act or even to begin what could be a long process to shift the federal government in a new direction.

Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, said the president’s actions will “immediately reverse the elements of the Trump policies that were deeply inhumane and did not reflect our country’s values.’’

President Biden has spent most of his life struggling with his words.

Yet, over the course of the 2020 campaign, and especially in the two months since his victory over former President Donald J. Trump, Mr. Biden has transformed himself into a steady hand who chooses words with extraordinary restraint.

The self-described “scrappy kid from Scranton,” who called Mr. Trump a “clown” and told him to “shut up” during their first debate, refused to take the political bait Mr. Trump laid for weeks after the election with his attempts to overturn the results. Rather than get sucked into the Trumpian chaos, Mr. Biden focused on announcing his cabinet and helping his party win two runoff races in Georgia. And with a second impeachment trial looming in the Senate, Mr. Biden has maintained his steadfast faith in the political center.

“There’s a more of a sense of a calm resolve now,” said Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester, Democrat of Delaware, who has known Mr. Biden for decades and served as a co-chair of his campaign. “Even the words that he uses that are fiery are very intentional now. He is where he is supposed to be at this moment.”

The coming year will test Mr. Biden’s self-discipline, as he takes office amid urgency from his own party to mark a decisive break with the Trump era by pushing through an aggressive policy agenda in the face of a divided Republican Party that is looking come together around a new foe. Mr. Biden and his aides are staking much on his ability to find the right words to restore America’s reputation, win bipartisan support in Congress and unite an anxious nation.

Twitter did not transfer followers of the presidential accounts to President Biden, who is currently amassing his own at a rapid clip.
Twitter did not transfer followers of the presidential accounts to President Biden, who is currently amassing his own at a rapid clip.Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

As President Biden assumed the White House on Wednesday, several social media companies completed their own transitions of highly followed official accounts.

The handoff wasn’t as seamless as it was four years ago, when former President Barack Obama turned over the keys of much of his social empire to former President Donald J. Trump, including the millions of followers of the official presidential Twitter accounts. Mr. Trump’s team used the accounts as megaphones for his administration’s agenda and amassed even more followers: @POTUS ultimately had 33.3 million, @WhiteHouse had 26 million, @FLOTUS had 16.4 million and @VP had 10.3 million. The @POTUS account alone nearly tripled in followers under Mr. Trump.

But this year, Twitter did not transfer the followers of each account to Mr. Biden. Instead, accounts with smaller followings, mostly created last week, were transformed into the official ones.

  • @PresElectBiden, an account that had posted just once, became @POTUS, taking its 1.4 million followers with it.

  • Vice President Kamala Harris brought her 5.6 million followers from her own account @SenKamalaHarris over to @VP.

  • The account for Mr. Biden’s transition, @Transition46, had 1.7 million followers and became @WhiteHouse.

  • And @FLOTUSBiden, Jill Biden’s new account with about 660,000 followers, became @FLOTUS.

The accounts rapidly began gaining followers, and Mr. Biden sent his first tweet as president from the @POTUS account at 12:36 p.m. “There is no time to waste when it comes to tackling the crises we face,” he wrote.

The inaugural painting, “Landscape with Rainbow” by Robert S. Duncanson, was displayed in the Capitol Rotunda.
The inaugural painting, “Landscape with Rainbow” by Robert S. Duncanson, was displayed in the Capitol Rotunda.Credit…Pool photo by Win Mcnamee

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris received a series of gifts from congressional leaders on Wednesday afternoon, an occasion for lawmakers from both parties to honor their inauguration.

During a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda, lawmakers presented them with Lenox crystal vases, flags that had been flown over the Capitol during the inauguration and framed photographs of their swearing-in ceremonies.

The inaugural painting, “Landscape with Rainbow” by Robert S. Duncanson, a 19th-century African-American artist, was also displayed.

“Our task as leaders is to bind this nation’s wounds,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader. He added that Ms. Harris had “made history, and all of America should celebrate that.”

It was a starkly different message than the one Mr. McCarthy had sent two weeks earlier, when he was among the Republican lawmakers who voted to overturn the election results hours after a mob of Trump loyalists stormed the Capitol.

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The Poet Amanda Gorman Says America Can Be the ‘Light’ It Needs

Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration.

Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world. When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade the loss? The loss we carry asea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast. We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace. In the norms and notions of what just is, isn’t always justice. And yet the dawn is hours before we knew it. Somehow we do it. Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished. We, the successors of a country and a time, where a skinny black girl, descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one. And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine. But that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man. And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none, and harmony for all. Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true. That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped, that even as we tired. we tried, that will forever be tied together victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division. Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid. If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade. But in all the bridges we’ve made. That is the promise promise to glade, the hill we climb. If only we dare it. Because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into, and how we repair it. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it. Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith, we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future, our history has its eyes on us. This is the era of just redemption. We feared it at its inception. We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour. But within it, we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves. So while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us? We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be, a country that is bruised but whole. Benevolent but bold, fierce and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain. If we merge mercy with might, and might with rights, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright. So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left with. Every breath, my bronze-pounded chest. We will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one. We will rise from the gold-limned hills of the West. We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked South. We will rebuild, reconcile and recover in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country. Our people, diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful. When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there was always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.

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Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

When Amanda Gorman, 22, recited her poem at President Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, she became the youngest inaugural poet ever in the United States and joined a small group of poets who have been recruited to help mark a presidential inauguration, among them Robert Frost, Maya Angelou and Miller Williams.

About two weeks ago, Ms. Gorman was struggling to finish a new work titled “The Hill We Climb.” She was feeling exhausted, and she worried she wasn’t up to the monumental task she faced: composing a poem about national unity to recite at a ceremony that would be watched by millions.

“I had this huge thing, probably one of the most important things I’ll ever do in my career,” she said in an interview. “It was like, if I try to climb this mountain all at once, I’m just going to pass out.”

Ms. Gorman managed to write a few lines a day and was about halfway through the poem on Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters stormed into the halls of Congress, some bearing weapons and Confederate flags. She stayed awake late into the night and finished the poem, adding verses about the apocalyptic scene that unfolded at the Capitol that day:

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.

And this effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed,

It can never be permanently defeated.

Ms. Gorman fell in love with poetry at a young age and distinguished herself quickly as a rising talent. Raised in Los Angeles, where her mother teaches middle school, she would write in journals at the playground. At 16, she was named the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. A few years later, when she was studying sociology at Harvard, she became the National Youth Poet Laureate, the first person to hold the position.

Still, while she has been in the spotlight before, she had never performed her work for a televised audience that will likely number in the tens of millions.

Plus, none of Ms. Gorman’s inaugural poet predecessors faced the challenge that she did. She set out to write a poem that would inspire hope and foster a sense of collective purpose, at a moment when Americans are reeling from a deadly pandemic, political violence and partisan division.

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Lady Gaga Sings the National Anthem

Lady Gaga performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Biden’s inauguration.

[Singing of ”The Star-Spangled Banner”]

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Lady Gaga performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Biden’s inauguration.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

When Lady Gaga performed the national anthem at President Biden’s swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday, it was the culmination of a years-long relationship in which the two have shared the spotlight.

Before the inauguration, Lady Gaga said on Twitter that she was honored to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Mr. Biden’s inauguration, which she called “a ceremony, a transition, a moment of change.”

In a second tweet, she added: “My intention is to acknowledge our past, be healing for our present, and passionate for a future where we work together lovingly. I will sing to the hearts of all people who live on this land.”

At the Capitol, she wore an oversized gold pin depicting a dove with an olive branch, as she sang into a golden microphone while Mr. Biden looked on.

“May we all make peace with each other,” she said later on Twitter.

Lady Gaga campaigned in November with Mr. Biden in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state that he won. The evening before Election Day, she performed at the Biden campaign’s final rally.

Her appearance drew criticism from President Donald J. Trump’s campaign, which accused her of being an anti-fracking activist, and from Mr. Trump himself.

“Lady Gaga is not too good,” Mr. Trump said at a rally in November. “I could tell you plenty of stories. I could tell you stories about Lady Gaga. I know a lot of stories.” He did not elaborate.

The singer’s ties to Mr. Biden date back to his time as vice president, when they worked together on the White House’s campaign to fight sexual assault on college campuses.

In 2016, Mr. Biden introduced Lady Gaga at the Academy Awards, where he plugged the campaign against sexual assault and she performed her song “Til It Happens to You,” made for a documentary about that issue. The two later appeared together to promote the White House’s campaign. In 2017, after Mr. Biden left office, they also filmed a public service announcement about sexual assault.

“I’m here today with not only a great friend, but a fierce advocate,” Mr. Biden said in the video.

Officer Eugene Goodman at the inauguration on Wednesday.
Officer Eugene Goodman at the inauguration on Wednesday.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Eugene Goodman, a Capitol Police officer who was captured on video facing down members of the mob that breached the Capitol on Jan. 6 and diverting them from entering the Senate chamber and potentially saving lives, was elevated to serve as the No. 2 security official in the Senate for the inaugural events on Wednesday.

As the acting deputy Senate sergeant-at-arms, Officer Goodman, a Black man who fended off a mostly white throng, was part of the official escort accompanying Vice President Kamala Harris to the platform outside the Capitol where she was sworn into the nation’s second-highest office.

The mention of his name was greeted with loud applause as he appeared at the arched entranceway where rioters breached the building exactly two weeks earlier.

Officer Goodman, who was filmed and photographed luring the mob away from the unguarded doors to the Senate chamber a minute before they were locked, has been hailed as a hero on Capitol Hill for preventing the invaders from breaching the chamber while senators were still inside. Officer Goodman’s actions gave the lawmakers time to evacuate to a secure location before the rioters could enter.

A bipartisan trio of lawmakers has introduced legislation that would award Officer Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal for his bravery during the rampage.

In the wake of the Jan. 6 siege, a massive security failure, the top security officials on Capitol Hill — including the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms — resigned, with permanent successors yet to be named.

Vice President Kamala Harris served up a bipartisan message in a bright single-breasted coat and dress from Christopher John Rodgers.
Vice President Kamala Harris served up a bipartisan message in a bright single-breasted coat and dress from Christopher John Rodgers.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Forget red and blue (states). The theme of the Biden inauguration was “America United,” and the color of the day seemed to be purple — the shade that bridges the divide by bringing both colors together (not to mention one of the original signature colors of the suffragists, whose dreams are now being realized with the first woman vice president).

“Purple is the color of loyalty, constancy to purpose, unswerving steadfastness to a cause,” the National Woman’s Party wrote in a newsletter in 1913.

Though Dr. Jill Biden coordinated her blue Markarian coat with her husband’s blue Ralph Lauren tie, Vice President Kamala Harris served up a bipartisan message in a bright single-breasted coat and dress from Christopher John Rodgers, as did former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a grape Ralph Lauren pantsuit. And Michelle Obama, the former first lady, wore wine trousers with a coordinated turtleneck and long coat from Sergio Hudson, a young Black designer.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a grape Ralph Lauren pantsuit. And Michelle Obama, the former first lady, wore wine trousers with a coordinated turtleneck and long coat from Sergio Hudson, a young Black designer.Credit…Left, Chang W. Lee/The New York Times; Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Masks were also part of the material culture of this inauguration. Dr. Biden wore a sky blue mask that appeared custom-made to match her coat, and other members of her family chose a similar monochromatic theme. Ms. Harris opted for a shiny black number that complimented her purple outfit, one of her signature mask looks.

Many men opted for paper medical masks, but a few went for solid shades or face coverings that featured insignia. Former President George W. Bush sported a mask made by Rhoback, a company that was started by former Capitol Hill staffers.

Despite the very high fashion content of President Joe Biden’s swearing in, which included Lady Gaga in a veritable ball gown from Schiaparelli, Ella Emhoff in a crystal-dusted tweed Miu Miu coat with a big white collar; and Jennifer Lopez in winter white Chanel, it was Senator Bernie Sanders, not normally known for his style statements, whose choice of accessories may have had the widest impact. Specifically, Mr. Sanders’ woolly mittens, in a sort of brown and cream Himalayan sweater pattern, which seemed to have charmed practically half the social media world, which began where they could buy a pair.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont arriving at the inauguration of President Joe Biden.Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

They quickly got their own hashtag: #Berniesmittens. Even Vogue took note. Jen Ellis, a Vermont schoolteacher, claimed ownership in a tweet.

“I made Bernie’s mittens as a gift a couple years ago,” she wrote, posting a photo of other similar creations. “They are made from repurposed wool sweaters and lined with fleece (made from recycled plastic bottles).”

In response a friend noted, “you better buy some titanium knitting-needles lol, you’ll need them, you just became the world’s most famous ‘mitten knitter’.” And thus the new administration appears to be keeping its vow to jump-start small businesses already.

Whitehouse.gov has been revamped since the Biden administration took over.
Whitehouse.gov has been revamped since the Biden administration took over.Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

The occupant of the physical White House has changed — and of the digital one. Here’s a look at how whitehouse.gov has been revamped since the Biden administration took over:

The contact form on the website has sections for a person’s first and last name, email address, phone number and an optional category to include pronouns. Options include “she/her,” “he/him,” “they/them,” “other” and “prefer not to share.”

The second item on the site’s Priorities page, after Covid-19, is climate. “President Biden will take swift action to tackle the climate emergency,” the site says. “The Biden administration will ensure we meet the demands of science, while empowering American workers and businesses to lead a clean energy revolution.”

Mr. Biden is bringing with him a large climate team and has installed climate policy experts in the State, Treasury and Transportation Departments.

Under the menu, “Español” is prominent in light blue font as a way to navigate the site. From the address, “La Casa Blanca 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW,” to the privacy policy, the site’s pages are viewable in Spanish.

The Trump administration in 2017 removed the site’s translation before promising that it would be back soon, but the Spanish-language version was unavailable a year later, The Associated Press reported.

An early set of coronavirus guidelines was translated into Spanish on the White House website in March — three days after the English version, and only after pressure from Latino groups, NBC News reported.

Mr. Biden’s digital takeover also led to the removal of a webpage for a report from President Donald J. Trump’s 1776 Commission, which historians said distorted the history of slavery in the United States, was misleading and was hastily produced. The page that had hosted a PDF of the report now reads “Not Found.” Mr. Biden had said he would cancel the commission.

Hidden in the new site’s technical backend is a message for the tech savvy: “If you’re reading this, we need your help building back better,” a line in the site’s source code reads, as noted by the Reuters reporter Raphael Satter. The message includes a link to apply to the U.S. Digital Service, a group of technologists that works to modernize government services.

Whitehouse.gov now includes a variety of accessibility components, such as high-contrast and large text modes, according to Matt Hodges, an engineering director on the Biden team. An accessibility statement on the site reads: “This commitment to accessibility for all begins with this site and our efforts to ensure all functionality and all content is accessible to all Americans.”

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Watch President Trump’s Final White House Departure

The former president and first lady said goodbye to the White House before departing.

You are amazing people. This is a great, great country. It is my greatest honor and privilege to have been your president. I will always fight for you. 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.

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The former president and first lady said goodbye to the White House before departing.CreditCredit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President Donald J. Trump departed the White House on Wednesday morning for the last time as the commander in chief after four tumultuous years that shook the nation, choosing to leave town rather than face the reality that he lost re-election to President Biden.

“Have a good life, we will see you soon,” Mr. Trump said at the end of off-the-cuff remarks delivered to supporters at Joint Base Andrews, discarding a prepared statement and ignoring advisers who thought he should have thanked Mr. Biden by name.

“We were not a regular administration,” Mr. Trump said, delivering a truncated version of his self-aggrandizing campaign rally speech, and imploring those gathered — most without masks — to “remember” all of his accomplishments.

“We will be back in some form,” he added, before walking away from his last appearance as the nation’s commander in chief to the strains of “Y.M.C.A.” by the Village People. His vice president, Mike Pence, did not attend his farewell event.

Despite flouting most of the conventions associated with the peaceful transfer of power, Mr. Trump did abide by one presidential norm — leaving the traditional note to Mr. Biden in the Oval Office, according to a White House official.

It was not clear what the letter said. Mr. Pence, who tried briefly and belatedly to ease the transition, also left a note for his successor, Kamala Harris, aides said.

Mr. Trump left the White House on a red carpet, hand in hand with Melania Trump, who wore a dark suit and sunglasses, and spoke briefly with reporters before boarding his helicopter, where he stood in the doorway one last instant, waving goodbye with his right hand.

The Marine One helicopter took off from the South Lawn of the White House at about 8:18 a.m. for the short flight to Joint Base Andrews in suburban Maryland, where Mr. Trump held the farewell event, including a 21-gun salute, with administration veterans and other supporters. After that, he and Mrs. Trump boarded Air Force One for the journey to Florida, where they will reside. The plane landed about an hour before Mr. Biden’s oath of office.

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Former President Donald J. Trump and the former first lady Melania Trump arrived in Florida after leaving the White House, and skipping the inauguration ceremony.CreditCredit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Air Force One landed at Palm Beach International Airport at 10:54 a.m., bringing Mr. Trump to his adopted home state for his final hour as president.

The tarmac was silent as the plane rolled down and around the runway, other than the occasional clicking of a photo camera and the roar of the engine. Mr. Trump and Mrs. Trump stepped off the plane about 10 minutes later.

Mr. Trump, who had considered staging a rally for his return to private life, waved at a small contingent of supporters, perhaps 20 people, who silently waved back. He did not take questions.

Mr. Trump surrendered the building after a late night of signing last-minute pardons and other clemency orders for 143 people, including Stephen K. Bannon, his former chief strategist; Elliott Broidy, one of his top fund-raisers in 2016; and a series of politicians convicted of corruption. The White House did not announce the pardons until after midnight and then followed up at 1:07 a.m. with an order revoking the ethics rules Mr. Trump had imposed on his own former aides.

In slipping out of Washington before the festivities on Wednesday, Mr. Trump capped a norm-busting tenure by defying one last convention. He refused to host the traditional coffee that presidents hold for their successors at the White House on the morning of the inauguration. And he opted to skip the swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol, normally a symbol of the American tradition of peaceful transfer of power that is attended by both departing and incoming presidents.

No president has refused to attend his successor’s inauguration since 1869, when Andrew Johnson, miffed that Ulysses S. Grant would not share a carriage with him to the Capitol, refused at the last minute to get into the separate carriage arranged for him and skipped the ceremony. (Woodrow Wilson traveled to the Capitol for Warren G. Harding’s inauguration in 1921, but did not remain for the ceremony because of his failing health.)

Mr. Trump leaves office by one measure as the most unpopular president in the history of polling. He is the only president since Gallup began surveys under Harry S. Truman to never garner the support of a majority of the public for a single day of his presidency, and his 41 percent average approval over the course of his tenure is the lowest of any president in that time.

Mr. Trump, however, never came to terms with his defeat in the 2020 election.

“Could you imagine if I lose?” he said at a rally in Georgia in October. “My whole life, what am I going to do? I’m going to say I lost to the worst candidate in the history of politics. I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country. I don’t know.”

Mr. Trump, who went on to lose by seven million votes in the popular tally and 306-232 in the Electoral College, spent the two months after the election trying to overturn the results with false allegations of widespread fraud that were rejected by Republican and Democratic election officials and scores of judges, including some whom he had appointed.

The House last week impeached Mr. Trump for inciting an insurrection after a crowd of his supporters attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, and the Senate is poised to put him on trial in days, even though he will no longer be in office. Although it will be too late to remove him from power, a Senate conviction would amount to a bipartisan repudiation in the history books, and lawmakers could also disqualify him from holding office again, thwarting his talk of running for president again in 2024.

In a farewell address he released on video Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Trump took no responsibility for the Capitol siege or for the coronavirus pandemic that has now claimed 400,000 lives in the United States.

Instead, he boasted of his accomplishments cutting taxes, eliminating regulations, appointing conservative judges and revising trade deals. “The movement we started,” he said, “is only just beginning,”

Al Pirro, seen with his then-wife Jeanine Pirro, at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in White Plains, N.Y., in 2000, was pardoned by former President Donald J. Trump on Wednesday.
Al Pirro, seen with his then-wife Jeanine Pirro, at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in White Plains, N.Y., in 2000, was pardoned by former President Donald J. Trump on Wednesday.Credit…Joyce Dopkeen/The New York Times

In the waning minutes of his term, former President Donald J. Trump granted a pardon to Al Pirro, the ex-husband of Jeanine Pirro, his favorite Fox News host, an administration official said.

Mr. Pirro was convicted of tax evasion and conspiracy in 2000, while his wife was the district attorney in Westchester County. He was sentenced to 29 months in prison.

The pardon of Mr. Pirro, who once served as Mr. Trump’s power broker in Westchester County, came hours after the former president bestowed 143 grants of clemency and pardons on a roster of corrupt politicians and business executives, including Stephen K. Bannon, his former chief strategist, and Elliott Broidy, one of his top fund-raisers in 2016.

The latest round of clemency grants underscored both how many of his close associates and supporters became ensnared in corruption cases and other legal troubles and his willingness to use his power to help them.

It also was a final lashing meted out by Mr. Trump at a criminal justice system that he had come to view as unfairly hounding him and his allies. It came as the Senate prepared for his second impeachment trial, on a charge of inciting the deadly riot at the Capitol this month, and could be another factor in influencing whether Republicans join Democrats in voting to convict him.

The latest round of pardons and commutations followed dozens last month, when Mr. Trump pardoned associates like Paul Manafort and Roger J. Stone Jr., and four Blackwater guards convicted in connection with the killing of Iraqi civilians.

Here are other people who were granted clemency by Mr. Trump:

  • Hillel Nahmad, known as Helly, a member of a wealthy and influential New York family of art collectors that has been a fixture in auction houses for decades, was fully pardoned. Mr. Nahmad had served five months in federal prison in 2014 after pleading guilty to a charge that he had led a sports gambling ring. Investigators had said the ring had ties to Russian-American organized crime figures, several of whom were also charged in the case.

  • Anthony Levandowski, a former senior engineer at Google who pleaded guilty to stealing trade secrets related to self-driving car technology and was sentenced to 18 months in prison in August, was fully pardoned. It was a capstone in what had been one of Silicon Valley’s most precipitous rise-and-fall stories in recent memory.

  • Dr. Salomon E. Melgen, 66, a major Democratic donor and eye doctor had his remaining prison sentence commuted. He ran a series of clinics in Florida that fraudulently told Medicare patients that they had eye diseases and then performed medically unnecessary tests and procedures, falsely billing the federal government at least $42 million, according to prosecutors.

  • Robert Zangrillo, a Miami real estate developer who was charged in 2019 in the sweeping investigation of college admissions known as Varsity Blues, was fully pardoned months before he was to stand trial on several counts of fraud and conspiracy.

  • Ken Kurson, who was arrested late last year on cyberstalking charges involving several individuals, was pardoned. Harassment allegations against Mr. Kurson, a friend and associate of Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had surfaced from a routine background check in 2018 when the Trump administration was considering Mr. Kurson for a seat on the board of the National Endowment for the Humanities. (He later withdrew from consideration.)

  • Sholam Weiss, who was convicted in 2000 of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering in connection with an immense scheme that siphoned $450 million from an insurance company, had his 845-year prison term commuted. Mr. Weiss, who had built a lucrative plumbing supply business in Brooklyn, disappeared while a jury was deliberating and was captured in Austria after a year on the run.

Andrew Weissmann, second from left, was a prosecutor who worked for the special counsel in the Russia investigation, Robert S. Mueller III.
Andrew Weissmann, second from left, was a prosecutor who worked for the special counsel in the Russia investigation, Robert S. Mueller III.Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

The moment that Donald J. Trump’s presidency ended, a former prosecutor from the special counsel’s office in the Russia inquiry publicly unveiled an argument that Mr. Trump’s White House had erred in a wave of contentious pardons last month — leaving some recipients vulnerable to new prosecutions.

“If the Biden administration’s Department of Justice wants to rectify some of Trump’s abuse of the pardon power, there are now options at its disposal,” the former prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, wrote in an essay posted on the legal website Just Security just after noon.

Working for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, Mr. Weissmann led the prosecution of Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman who gave internal polling data to a man identified by the Senate Intelligence Committee as a Russian spy and who never fully cooperated with investigators.

Mr. Weissmann argued on Wednesday that the wording of Mr. Trump’s pre-Christmas pardons was “oddly” drafted. The pardons narrowly covered the recipients’ convictions — rather than broadly relieving them of all potential liability for their actions.

Many of the recipients could be charged with more crimes than those for which they were convicted, he said.

For example, he noted, Mr. Manafort admitted as part of a plea deal over reduced charges that he was guilty of other crimes for which he was never convicted. They included 10 counts of financial crimes over which a jury in a Virginia trial had hung, and others offenses like witness tampering that had been laid out in an indictment in a District of Columbia case.

It would be “unusually simple” to bring new charges against him, Mr. Weissmann argued, in part because prosecutors could use Mr. Manafort’s sworn admissions of his guilt as evidence.

Mr. Weissmann observed that other pardons Mr. Trump granted just before Christmas, including to his longtime informal adviser and friend Roger J. Stone Jr., and to Philip Esformes — “the single largest health care fraudster in history” — were similarly narrow. (The texts of the pardons Mr. Trump issued on his last full day in office are not yet public.)

An exception, Mr. Weissmann wrote, was Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, who was pardoned in November. That pardon was broadly worded to cover all of Mr. Flynn’s conduct — not just the offense to which he pleaded guilty.

Mr. Weissmann was a frequent target of Mr. Trump and his allies, who accused him of bias; in a memoir published last year, he said that his personal views had no bearing on the crimes that Russian operatives and Trump aides committed.

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