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CNN Live Event/Special
Live Coverage of Joe Biden's Inauguration; Former Presidents and First Ladies Enter; Supreme Court Justices and Mike Pence Also Attending. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired January 20, 2021 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: How are you? Good to see you. (INAUDIBLE) the Marines.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You know, John, as we're watching this unfold, let's just give a little sense of perspective. Two weeks ago today, on January 6th, we saw what was a -- there's the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, she's there obviously as well -- we saw a riot emerge, an angry pro-Trump mob storming this building where we are right now.
Then, a week later, we saw the impeachment -- second impeachment of President Trump. And now, the inauguration of this new president of the United States, within two weeks. Look at the drama that has unfolded.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And as we look at the drama, we have to remember, the world is watching the drama unfold here. And it is majestic drama today, it is the inauguration of a new president. You see the flags, you see the ceremony, you see the pomp and the circumstance that you should have, the inauguration of a new president.
And again, the world watching, the country watching, all the more important because of the events you just mentioned. One Wednesday ago, Donald Trump, forever stained, impeached for a second time. Two Wednesdays ago, Trump stained, I would argue, even more so by first leading a rally and then urging his supporters to march on Capitol Hill and then dozens, if not more, of those supporters breaking into that building in a criminal act, attacking their own government.
So this is a message today, not only of a transition of power, of a new administration, but of the strength and resilience of the system, of the democracy. And Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will walk into this building, again, where both of them have worked as senators, they walk in as president-elect and vice president-elect.
You see the lectern set up there for the ceremony, scaled back some because of COVID, but still spectacular sight as we prepare. We're getting very close now, 90 minutes from now, Joe Biden will be the president of these United States. BLITZER (voice-over): The House leadership is going to be introduced
momentarily, then the Senate leadership, then the VIPs will be introduced, including the former vice president Dan Quayle, the former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, the former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama.
Anderson, it's all explicitly timed out as we get ready for around noon, when Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States.
KING (voice-over): Yes. And, again, such a stark contrast to just two weeks ago, what we saw happening at the Capitol on those very steps that the Bidens walked up.
David Axelrod, you have been there, at the inauguration of President Obama. What's happening behind the closed doors?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR (voice-over): Well, a lot of excitement. I must say that the rituals of this are familiar, but they've never been more important than now.
And one of my recollections -- you know, people were milling around int he Speaker's Office, dignitaries and so on. I was waiting for President Obama there to give him something before he went out to be sworn in. And President Bush arrived first, he was just leaving office. And we had not been terribly kind to him in the campaign, he knew that. And he could not have been more encouraging to me personally.
And he -- I remember him putting his arm on his shoulder and said, just remember this, you're going to do great but appreciate every minute because it's going to go by faster than you'll ever think and it's going to be the ride of your life, there's nothing better.
And I thought, what a gracious note. And I'm so happy to see him here because his appearance here is symbolically so important for our country, to understand that we are first Americans, and that when we transfer power from one administration to another, whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, we have a vested interest in your success. And that hopefully will be part of the spirit with which people will receive Biden's address today.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST (?) (voice-over): I can't tell you how wonderful it was to see those couples walking up those steps, just a few moments ago. Two weeks ago today, it was an occupied place, it was a crime scene. And now we have democracy rising.
And another thing I think about, Anderson, is that to Biden, the Capitol is his second home. And when he walks through these halls, unlike (ph) Barack Obama, he knows where he's going. And it must be an odd feeling for him right now to say, well, I'm leaving the Capitol now to go to the White House.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): There's obviously Scalise and Clyburn.
Evan, there is also something just about the sort of mundane milling around that's kind of comforting and soothing. You know, it's something we see every four years. But given all the tumult and agita (ph) that this country has been through, it is a new beginning.
EVAN OSNOS, BIDEN BIOGRAPHER (voice-over): It is. And you know, for Joe Biden, that space, that Capitol building, has been about the milling around. You know, one of the things he did was he kept his locker in the Senate gym, even after he went over to the vice presidency, because he liked to come back and be among senators, be among members of the House.
And you know, he -- one of the things that he said to me at one point was he'd watched the culture of the Congress degrade over time. He remembered when Bill Clinton, then-president, had been called "Bubba" for the first time by somebody in the Congress. And he said there's been a cultural change in it, and it's not going to go anywhere good. And this was years ago that he sort of picked up on this.
I also think it's important that he used to sit sometimes on the floor of the Senate, on the other side of the aisle. He'd sit with his friend John McCain, and it bothered him, actually, that the leadership of both parties had said, you know, we don't think that's a good idea, it doesn't look good. And so he'd sort of -- they had to go back to their respective sides of the aisle. That's not how he sees this place.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR (voice-over): I mean, it's -- first of all, we had a near-death experience for our democracy. I mean, that's -- you're talking about watching the people go back up the stairs, and what Gloria was saying is so powerful. It was a crime scene and now it's not, and now it's not.
And you know, and I think that Joe Biden is going to train us to see the world differently. We got trained to look for threats under Trump, and to look for things to block and be scared of. He's going to teach us how to look for opportunities, for common ground, for ways to come together. And it's happening right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): These are members of Congress, coming --
JONES (voice-over): It's happening right now. Here we have people from different parties, coming together, sit down, restoring these rituals, you know. And it does matter.
And for me, you know, I was one of the people, you know, out in a crowd when Obama came -- you guys were up there, I was out in the crowd, we were cold --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): You looked good, by the way.
JONES (voice-over): A little tiny dot? I was -- I had my aunt with me, we were shivering. And Obama came out, and like I said, that feeling of hope was palpable. I think the hope is different now, it's more about faith. We -- our faith has been tested, and our faith endures. And I think every -- you're going to see -- I think you're going to see a different country come out of this experience.
AXELROD (voice-over): Well, you were among 2 million people --
JONES (voice-over): Yes.
AXELROD (voice-over): -- who were out there.
When I was sitting on that platform, I was looking out at a sea of humanity. There will be no one there, and that will be symbolic of the challenge that we face. But when I watched soon-to-be President Biden come up those steps, it struck me that he walked those steps for the first time in 1973 as a young senator, his colleagues included people who served with Calvin Coolidge --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Right.
AXELROD (voice-over): -- and Franklin Roosevelt. And now, 48 years later, he's walking up those steps. And he is a link to the past, and a beacon to a better future. And it's really an interesting position. Who would have predicted that at this stage in his life he would be in that position?
COOPER (voice-over): Jake Tapper, as President-elect Biden, soon-to- be-President Biden looks out, he won't see that sea of people that President Obama and President Trump saw, he'll see a sea of flags, 200,000 flags representing people who are not there. Also the reminder of the 400,000 dead in this country, and that number still on the rise -- Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anderson, it is a day of solemnity because of all that loss, and also because of the terrorist threat that has required this intense security here at the Capitol. It's amazing, you look back at images of this exact spot in the Capitol two weeks ago, and it was the scene of an insurrection, a terrorist attack.
But here it is, a day of majesty and celebration, of transition of power if not peaceful transition of power.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It sounds like they're announcing the leadership of the Senate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- honorable Dick Durbin and Mrs. Reema Dodin. Majority whip, the honorable John Thune and Mrs. Kimberley Thune. Democratic leader, the honorable Charles Schumer and Mrs. Iris Weinshall Schumer. And president pro tempore of the Senate, the honorable Chuck Grassley and Mrs. Jennifer Heins.
BASH (voice-over): So this is the leadership of the U.S. Senate, the longest serving members of the Senate in both parties, president pro tem -- I guess it's the outgoing, Chuck Grassley. And likely the incoming will be Patrick Leahy, another constitutional role in the succession line.
TAPPER (voice-over): Yes, it's a really important moment for the United States and also for the world. The world saw American democracy be truly tested over the last two months. And you know, it looked wobbly there a few times, especially two weeks ago in this exact same spot. But the world is now watching as American democracy continues.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And it's for that --
BASH (voice-over): Former Vice President Dan Quayle?
TAPPER (voice-over): There's former Vice President Dan Quayle.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): But it's for that moment, for that same reason that I think this is a moment of celebration for this country. I mean, inaugurations, we don't have the crowds today, but inaugurations are a big day for this country.
All of this pomp and circumstance that you're seeing, the flags, the ceremony, these are traditions that go back pretty far in this country. And for most Americans, they only get to see it every four years, and they're seeing it again today even in spite of what we've witnessed and experienced as a country in the last couple of weeks. This is the process that we are experiencing as a nation once again.
BASH (voice-over): Dan Quayle of course, held the job of vice president, which Joe Biden held, Joe Biden --
TAPPER (voice-over): Former Indiana senator.
BASH (voice-over): -- right, Joe Biden will be the 15th vice president to be sworn in as president.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Which is --
TAPPER (voice-over): Let's go with Jeff Zeleny, who's down there, who has some news that is interesting in light of one of the heroes from two weeks ago -- Jeff.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jake, we have been talking all morning long about how this is the exact site of the riot at the Capitol, but one other moment from inside that insurrection we can all remember so clearly, is Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman.
He held the rioters at bay for some 85 seconds to get senators out of harm's way, to get the vice president out of harm's way. We've all seen that viral video. Today, we are learning that he is going to be escorting Vice President-elect Kamala Harris into the inauguration ceremony, he is going to be walking side by side with her.
He's also going to be coming with a new title, he's going to be the acting deputy House sergeant-at-arms, so certainly a monumental move for just the last two weeks. He's 40 years old, an Iraq War veteran and native of Washington, D.C. He will be walking side by side with a historic person in her own right, Senator Kamala Harris, becoming the next vice president of the United States with Officer Eugene Goodman next to her.
TAPPER (voice-over): OK, so, Jeff, we can't really hear you very well, so let me just tell the viewers what you're reporting, which is that Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is being escorted to the inauguration ceremony by Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who you might recall from his heroism two weeks ago. He led a group of the insurrectionists away from the Senate, he kind of served as a decoy and led them away from where they wanted to go, which was the floor of the U.S. Senate.
Now, some other rioters, terrorists did find their way to the Senate. But in that initial assault, he guided them away. Since then, Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who is a veteran as well, has a new role. He is the acting deputy sergeant-at-arms in the House of Representatives -- Wolf.
BLITZER (voice-over): Dan Quayle, just introduced. Here he is, the first of several major VIPs arriving right now. There's Dan Quayle, the former vice president of the United States, showing up, John. And he's going to be followed by former President Bill Clinton, former President George W. Bush, former President Barack Obama, an enormous display of goodwill from these former presidents of the United States.
KING (voice-over): An enormous display and a very important display. Again, two weeks ago, there were thugs, rioters running through that building, attacking the American democracy.
Today, we're watching the former vice president here. We'll see then former presidents come out right behind him, showing America and showing the world that that building that was the site -- it was a crime scene two weeks ago today; it is a stage today for a very important moment in the American democracy.
Dan Quayle, I should note, A, a reminder, we lost President George H.W. Bush, but also that was the last presidency, a one-term presidency, George H.W. Bush served one term. After that, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, both elected to two terms. Donald Trump, of course, leaving Washington today after one term as president.
It is a remarkable show of force, a bipartisan show of power here, an American tradition. But as Jake was just talking about, an American tradition that was a question mark two weeks ago, when that building was being attacked and many were questioning what was happening, why would an American president send his supporters to attack a shrine of American democracy. But today, we can turn the page on that -- Wolf.
BLITZER (voice-over): After the former presidents are introduced, the chief justice, other justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will be introduced. And then, significantly, John, the vice president of the United States, Mike Pence, and Karen Pence, they will be introduced as well.
Missing in action? One Donald Trump.
KING (voice-over): He has never respected the traditions and norms, the things -- forgive me -- that make America great, that truly make America great. These are the things that make American great, when everybody decides for a few hours, for a day, we can set aside partisan differences. We will get (ph) about those debates.
Joe Biden wants to change just about every policy, compass point of the Trump administration. Those debates will begin, perhaps even before the sun sets. But this is what is supposed to happen. We watch the flags, we listen to the band, we watch the leaders of our past parade onto the stage to be part of the ceremony to pass the baton and the torch.
You see former President Bill Clinton --
BLITZER (voice-over): Here comes Bill Clinton --
KING (voice-over): -- former secretary there --
BLITZER (voice-over): -- and Hillary Clinton there, walking in, they're going to be introduced momentarily.
Jamie Gangel is with us as well. You've got some information on these former presidents who are going to be attending and celebrating this moment in American history.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I have to tell you, Wolf, when the inauguration was being planned, I was asked to reach out to both former President Clinton and former President Bush to find out whether they would be attending. And I got the same response from both of them: Sitting here, waiting for my invitation. They were really excited to come and to be here.
And I think it should also be noted that President -- former President George Bush was one of the first people to make a statement congratulating Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. And he didn't just make a statement, he picked up the phone and called them -- Wolf.
BLITZER (voice-over): Yes, there they are, the former President Bill Clinton; Hillary Clinton, who was defeated four years ago by Donald Trump, she's here as well at the U.S. Capitol. They are about to be formally introduced, and they'll be followed by former President George W. Bush.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the 42nd president of the United States, the honorable William J. Clinton and the honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton.
(APPLAUSE) BLITZER (voice-over): And there's former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, they're getting ready to walk in as well. This is an exciting moment. For those of us, John, who love American history, who love covering presidents of the United States -- Democrats and Republicans -- they're getting together at this really historic moment.
KING (voice-over): And think of the remarkable moment. A, the message this sends to the country and to the world, to have the former presidents there of both parties.
George W. Bush has watched Donald Trump run against him in some ways, run against the old Republican Party. So this is a moment where, trust me, he's quite happy that Donald Trump is gone, even though Donald Trump is a Republican.
And imagine the moment for Hillary Clinton, and imagine all the scorn Republicans heap on Hillary Clinton. She had the dignity and respect to come and attend this event four years ago, even after the campaign against Donald Trump. She's here again today, in a much better mood.
BLITZER (voice-over): Another introduction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Order, halt (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the 43rd president of the United States, the honorable George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush.
BLITZER (voice-over): Former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush.
Jamie Gangel, you're getting some reporting. What else are you learning?
GANGEL (voice-over): I have to say, I'm laughing as I'm watching them come down, Wolf, because you may recall that even though he's a Republican, former President Bush did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016, he left it blank. I think it's pretty fair to guess he did not vote for him in 2020 either.
But it's -- what a difference four years make when, at the last inauguration, President Bush was famously quoted, after hearing Donald Trump's inauguration speech -- the carnage speech -- as saying, that was weird S-H -- you can fill in the rest.
This is a small club, these former presidents. They are very, very close, they talk to each other, they organize. Donald Trump is not going to be a part of this group.
BLITZER (voice-over): There, you see the Supreme Court justices, led by the chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, walking in as well. They will be introduced after former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are introduced. So they've got a real specific agenda. Listen to this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the 44th president of the United States, the honorable Barack H. Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama.
BLITZER (voice-over): There they are. This is a moment that is a huge moment for Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, for that matter, don't you think?
KING (voice-over): Absolutely. Four years ago, Donald Trump ran against Barack Obama and won the presidency. In some ways, Donald Trump's election was a repudiation of the Obama agenda.
However, now you have Joe Biden coming in, and Joe Biden ran saying, we're going to strengthen Obamacare, we're going to bring back the multilateralist approach, we're going to respect our allies. Now, he will be different. Joe Biden will be president, President Biden will be in different ways than President Obama, but this is a very proud moment for the Obamas, both of them.
BLITZER (voice-over): Let's get David Axelrod's thoughts. You used to work for Barack Obama when he was president of the United States and, David, you helped him become the president of the United States.
AXELROD (voice-over): Yes. And I also watched the relationship between him and Joe Biden grow. You know, they weren't that close when Obama named him vice president. And over the eight years of the presidency, they just became closer and closer. Sometimes these relationships grow apart; they became very, very good friends.
So I'm sure Obama, for him, this moment is not just about his happiness for the country -- which I'm sure he feels -- but also for a very close friend who is realizing a life's dream, and in whom I know he has great faith to be the right person at this moment. So this is a moment of great satisfaction for both Barack and Michelle Obama.
BLITZER (voice-over): There you see the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, including some of the justices appointed, nominated by soon-to- be former President Donald Trump. The chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, walking in right there as well.
They're going to be followed, you know, John, it's all three branches of the United States' government, participating in this moment.
KING (voice-over): Right. And when conservatives talk about the Trump legacy, they will not want to talk about impeached twice, they will not want to talk about inspiring insurrection. They will try to talk about Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Coney Barrett. One of the big legacies of the Trump administration that will be with us for the next 25 years or more is the appointment of those three justices and dozens of other federal court judges.
BLITZER (voice-over): These are the -- this is the family of the soon-to-be vice president of the United States and Doug Emhoff, they're her husband, these are the stepchildren of the -- of Kamala Harris, walking in as well.
All the family members are going to be introduced in the course of this inauguration. This is Cole and Ella, who are there, right there, obviously very excited -- John.
KING (voice-over): For the family, it's just simply a remarkable moment. And it is a reminder that we're being introduced to an historic vice president, a woman as the vice president of the United States, a woman of color as vice president of the United States, the first second man, second dude -- call it what you will -- the husband of the vice president, and the family of the vice president in this remarkably now very public role.
Yes, she was the attorney general of California, then the senator from California, but there is nothing like national office and the spotlight of the vice presidency. It will be fascinating to watch different families handle that in different ways, it'll be fascinating to watch as it plays out.
BLITZER (voice-over): Next to be introduced will be the family of the president-elect, Joe Biden and Jill Biden, they will be introduced, and then they will be followed by the vice president, Mike Pence and Karen Pence.
There you see the chief justice, John Roberts, who's there, former presidents, pretty -- John, it's a real VIP, shall we say.
KING (voice-over): The way it is supposed to be, a bipartisan crowd. You see, I believe that was President Clinton and President Bush saying hello there.
This is the Biden family that's coming --
BLITZER (voice-over): This is Ashley and Hunter Biden, these are the children of the Bidens, who are walking in right now -- and the grandchildren, I should say, as well. They've got a large family, and they're walking in as they -- as we watch all of this unfold -- Jake.
TAPPER (voice-over): Thanks, Wolf.
This is a celebration of the United States of America in so many ways. Here we see the president-elect's children, Hunter and Ashley, as well as grandchildren, coming into the procession, coming into the proceedings. But as we look out in this crowd and we see President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Dan Quayle.
And all of this -- not all, but so many Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate were reminded that American democracy was able to survive, does persist. It was tested, certainly, for months there, if not for years -- Dana.
BASH (voice-over): That's right. And you know, as we see Joe Biden's two surviving children, Ashley and Hunter, we also see his grandchildren, who really were -- have been very active, were very active in his campaign, particularly his granddaughters who were active on social media, they tried to help to reach out to young voters in lots of ways.
But they're also people who, according to Joe Biden, really helped convince him to run. I mean, the way that he tells the story, you know, he obviously felt that he was done, and it was of course after Charlottesville and after the both sidesism that Donald Trump did, that his granddaughters said, you've got to do this, you've got to do this. This is your time, Pop, this is your time.
PHILLIP (voice-over): And as they're being introduced formally and coming down those stairs formally, just a moment to recognize all the modern families being represented by both the first and the second family. Ashley Biden is the daughter of Joe and Jill Biden, but Hunter Biden is surviving child from his first marriage that -- Joe Biden's first wife, who died tragically in a car crash.
And earlier, you saw Ella and Cole Emhoff, who are the stepdaughters of Kamala Harris and are Doug Emhoff's children. So like so many American families, you see how blended families are coming together today from both the first and the second families.
And now we see Vice President Mike Pence and Karen Pence, walking through the Senate -- through the Capitol chambers. The vice president, Mike Pence, choosing to attend this inauguration, which, given all that's happened, is a pretty significant moment.
TAPPER (voice-over): it is, especially because he was not at the sendoff at Joint Base Andrews for President Trump. They claimed logistical difficulties in attending both, and obviously he decided this was more important.