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Biden's Inaugural Day Will Be Different Including Trump Will Not Attend

NOEL KING, HOST:

If you drive toward the Capitol building now, you'll be stopped by barricades blocks away. National Guard troops are surrounding the center of Washington. Military vehicles are blocking streets and alleys near where Joe Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday. U.S. troops swear to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. This time, domestic enemies are the focus. NPR's Claudia Grisales has been following this story. Good morning, Claudia.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Good morning, Noel.

KING: So a smaller inauguration than in past years, but a lot of preparation, huh?

GRISALES: Yes, it was already going to be a vastly limited event because of the pandemic, and the Biden transition team urged supporters not to come to D.C. because of the pandemic. And then following the insurrection on January 6, now the Capitol area, as you mentioned, has been dramatically transformed. There's a much larger security perimeter around the Capitol. Thousands of members of the National Guard will be there. There's multiple layers of fencing and barricades, and people are barred from the National Mall. Yesterday, the Army secretary, Ryan McCarthy, told the Associated Press that officials are also doing additional screening of their own members, 25,000 of them involved in securing the inauguration to address any concerns of any insider threats. But despite all of this, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris say they're determined to take the oath of office outside the west front of the Capitol, as is tradition. The incoming White House communications director, Kate Bedingfield, explained why on ABC yesterday. Let's take a listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KATE BEDINGFIELD: I think that will send an incredibly important visual image to the world about the resilience of American democracy.

KING: Speaking of resilience and democracy, President Trump, in a break with tradition, won't be there, will he?

GRISALES: No, he won't. Trump already said he was not going to attend the inauguration, making him the first modern president to skip the swearing in of his successor. My colleague Franco Ordoñez spoke to a senior administration official who said that Trump will hold a departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews on Wednesday, and then he's expected to fly to his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida. This comes just days after Trump was impeached again by the House. And Trump's decision to leave town early is something Biden himself said he agrees with. And while Trump won't be there, Vice President Mike Pence is expected to be in attendance, in addition to other former presidents.

KING: So it's a huge week because of the inauguration, but Congress will still be working tomorrow.

GRISALES: Yes, the Senate will return for the first time since the insurrection. They'll be taking up several of Biden's intended nominees for Cabinet roles. This includes the secretaries for Treasury, Defense and Homeland Security departments. Now, Biden won't have his national security team in place by the time he's sworn in. And this is a key concern, as Biden had said he wanted them in place promptly to address a long list of security concerns in a post-Trump-administration world. And also, the Senate will be back in session for the first time since the insurrection, as I mentioned. And we're waiting to see when the House could deliver the article of impeachment because once that happens, that will trigger a Senate impeachment trial for President Trump.

KING: Much ahead. NPR's Claudia Grisales. Thanks, Claudia.

GRISALES: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.