The inauguration of Joe Biden

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 12:42 a.m. ET, January 21, 2021
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8:52 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Biden's Oval Office has busts of César Chávez, Rosa Parks and MLK

President Joe Biden already began updating the decor that will surround him in the Oval Office. 

A bust of Mexican-American farm labor leader and civil rights activist César Chávez is now behind the Resolute desk.

Busts of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. have also been added to the office. 

CNN's John King reports:

7:51 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Here's what we know about tonight's primetime inauguration special "Celebrating America"

From CNN’s Arlette Saenz

President Joe Biden's team is producing a celebrity-filled primetime special tonight in lieu of the traditional celebrations, which have been significantly pared down due to the pandemic.

The special, hosted by Tom Hanks, is set to air live on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET. It will feature performances from Jon Bon Jovi, who campaigned with Biden in Pennsylvania, Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake and Ant Clemons.  

The 90-minute program, titled "Celebrating America," will also feature remarks from the President and the Vice President Kamala Harris and will celebrate "American heroes" like frontline workers, teachers and health care workers, among others. 

"Our first priority is safety — so while many of us will be watching safely from our homes, we are creating real moments of connection that highlight a new inclusive American era of leadership that works for and represents all Americans," said Presidential Inaugural Committee CEO Tony Allen.

Yesterday, the Biden inaugural committee announced more participants including a duet by Tyler Hubbard and Tim McGraw, Black Pumas, DJ Cassidy’s Pass the Mic, featuring Ozuna and Luis Fonsi.

Later in the evening, Biden and Jill Biden will appear on the Blue Room balcony at the White House.

8:11 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

White House declines to say if Biden has confidence in FBI Director Christopher Wray

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

FBI Director Christopher Wray takes part during a virtual news conference at the Department of Justice on October 28, 2020 in Washington.
FBI Director Christopher Wray takes part during a virtual news conference at the Department of Justice on October 28, 2020 in Washington. Sarah Silbiger/Pool/Getty Images

President Joe Biden's press secretary couldn't say Wednesday whether the President has confidence in FBI Director Christopher Wray, demurring on answering and leaving Wray's fate an open question.

"I have not spoken within him about specifically FBI Director Wray in recent days," press secretary Jen Psaki said, "but I'll circle back if there's more to convey."

Wray was appointed by President Trump to a 10-year term in 2017. He faced criticism from the ex-president for a number of items.

7:47 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Biden will be "quite involved" in Covid-19 relief negotiations, press secretary says

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki conducts her first news conference of the Biden Administration at the White House on Wednesday, January 20, in Washington.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki conducts her first news conference of the Biden Administration at the White House on Wednesday, January 20, in Washington. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that she expects President Joe Biden will be “quite involved” in Covid-19 relief stimulus negotiations with Congress.

Psaki told reporters, “I expect he will be picking up the phone in the coming days and having more of those conversations."

She added that the package that the Biden administration is proposing is a pivotal part to getting the pandemic under control.

When asked about whether Biden would be able to get bipartisan support on his $1.9 trillion proposal, Psaki said, "We hope and frankly we expect Republicans in Congress, and Democrats, too, to support assistance that will bring relief to the people they represent."

Psaki added that the $1.9 trillion price tag for the proposal was created by consulting health experts and economists, so those who would like to lower the cost would need to figure out what they would want to cut.

"It was designed with the components that were necessary to give people the relief they needed. So what's challenging is, what are you going to cut? Are you going to cut funding for vaccinations? Are you going to cut funding for unemployment insurance?" Psaki explained.

She noted that Biden's preference is to move forward with a bipartisan bill, but he will not rule out other tools to get the House and Senate to get the "urgent package done."

"It's a conversation. And he is no stranger to the process of bill making. So we're at the beginning of the process and as we continue, there will be conversations with members of both parties what will be in the final package. And rarely does it look like the initial package that is proposed," Psaki said.

7:49 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

White House will resume regular Covid-19 briefings with public health officials, press secretary says 

From CNN's Leinz Vales

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks with reporters in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on January 20, i, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks with reporters in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on January 20, i, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon/AP

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the Biden administration plans to resume regular coronavirus briefings with health officials in addition to the daily White House press briefings.

“We want to do those regularly, in a dependable day, with data, shared with you and the public so they can track progress we’re making on getting the pandemic under control," Psaki said in her first press briefing as Biden's press secretary.

Psaki said that the administration plans to combat misinformation with “accurate information.”

“There are a number of ways to combat misinformation,” Psaki said. “One of them is accurate information and truth and data and sharing information even when it’s hard to hear. And even when it is not meeting the expectations of people at home who are desperate for this crisis to be over.”

The newly sworn-in press secretary's comments came as a response to a question about dealing with misinformation campaigns, like the false claim that President Trump won the 2020 election.

Some background: The Trump administration had briefings with health officials regularly last spring when the coronavirus pandemic initially took hold of the country and the world, however those briefings were often not entirely focused on the pandemic as former President Trump led them awry.

Those regular briefings ended in April after Trump suggested injecting disinfectant could be a cure for coronavirus. 

With reporting from CNN's Kevin Liptak and Jason Hoffman 

See more:

7:51 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Biden's first call to a foreign leader will be to Canada's Trudeau

From CNN's Josiah Ryan and Betsy Klein

President Joe Biden's first call to a foreign leader will be to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said this evening.

Psaki said Biden has plans to call a number of US allies starting with Trudeau on Friday.

The call, she said, will largely focus on the US relationship with Canada, as well as Biden’s executive order on the Keystone XL Pipeline. 

Earlier today, Trudeau said he was disappointed by Biden's signing of an executive order revoking the Keystone XL oil pipeline's permit.

“While we welcome the President's commitment to fight climate change, we are disappointed but acknowledge the President’s decision to fulfill his election campaign promise on Keystone XL," Trudeau said in the statement.

No plans to call Trump: Psaki said there are no pending plans for the President to call either former President Trump or Russian President Vladimir Putin.

She said Biden's decision not to immediately release the note Trump left for him in the Oval Office should not be seen as an indication that such a call was in the works. 

The decision not to release the letter now "was just a reflection of him not planning to release the letter unilaterally but I wouldn't take it as an indication of a pending call with the former President," Psaki told reporters during the Biden administration's first White House briefing. 

See more:

7:51 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

White House press secretary: "Rebuilding trust with the American people will be central to our focus"

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury and Betsy Klein 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during her first press briefing at the White House on Wednesday, January 20.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during her first press briefing at the White House on Wednesday, January 20. Evan Vucci/AP

White House press secretary Jen Psaki held the first news briefing for the Biden administration and said that when she was asked to serve in her new role, President Joe Biden discussed the importance of bringing back "truth and transparency" to the briefing room.

"He asked me to ensure we're communicating about the policies across the Biden-Harris administration and the work his team is doing every day on behalf of all American people. There will be times when we see things differently in this room. I mean, among all of us. That's okay. That's part of our democracy. And rebuilding trust with the American people will be central to our focus in the press office and in the White House. Every single day," Psaki said.

This is the first White House press briefing since Dec. 15, with the exception of a statement from former press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Jan. 7, where she did not take any questions. McEnany appeared behind the briefing room podium approximately 40 times in her tenure, which began in April. 

Psaki later said she has “deep respect” for the role of a free and independent press. Psaki said Biden works for the American people, and therefore she does, as well.

She went on to outline the President’s activities and executive actions.

Watch the first news briefing of the Biden administration:

7:17 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Trump's White House chief usher has been fired

From CNN's Kate Bennett

White House chief usher Timothy Harleth has been fired by the Bidens, two sources with knowledge confirm to CNN.

Harleth was hired by Melania Trump in 2017 to fill the role of chief usher. Harleth came to the White House from Trump International Hotel DC, where he was rooms manager.

Harleth took the place of Angella Reid, who was hired during the Obama administration. 

Chief ushers can stay through multiple administrations, however Harleth’s firing did not come as a surprise to several sources inside the White House.

CNN has reached out to the first lady's office for comment.

7:12 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Senate confirms Avril Haines to be director of national intelligence

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

Avril Haines speaks during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee to be President-elect Joe Biden’s national intelligence director on January 19 in Washington.
Avril Haines speaks during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee to be President-elect Joe Biden’s national intelligence director on January 19 in Washington. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s first Cabinet nominee Wednesday evening, voting to approve his pick for director of national intelligence on Biden’s first day in office. The vote was 84 to 10.

Haines’ day-one confirmation was in doubt for much of Wednesday, after Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas objected to her confirmation until he received a written response to clarify one of her answers during her Tuesday confirmation hearing. Once Cotton received the response, he went to the floor and lifted his hold. Haines will become the first woman to serve as director of national intelligence, taking over an intelligence community that has been repeatedly disparaged and sidelined by former President Trump throughout his four years in office. 

Haines’ confirmation continues a recent Senate precedent of confirming Cabinet nominees the day a new President is sworn in, though Biden is getting fewer nominees than his predecessors. The Senate confirmed two of Trump’s on his first day, and even more for former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

Biden may also struggle to get additional nominees confirmed quickly, as those confirmations could be stalled until Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer cut a deal on a resolution outlining how they'll share power in the Senate, GOP and Democratic senators said Wednesday.

In addition to Haines, Janet Yellen to the Treasury Department is another nominee likely to get a quick vote in the Senate, but there still needs to be an agreement to hold votes on the nominations. It remains to be seen when other nominees might be considered.