Biden’s Inauguration Will Look Like No Other

Except for rare cases, the inauguration of a new president symbolizes the American tradition of a peaceful transfer of power. VOA’s Steve Redisch explains how and why Wednesday’s swearing-in of Joe Biden will be far from ordinary.

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Small Numbers of Protesters Gather at Fortified US Statehouses

Small groups of right-wing protesters — some of them carrying rifles — gathered outside heavily fortified statehouses around the country Sunday as National Guard troops and police kept watch to prevent a repeat of the violence that erupted at the U.S. Capitol.There were no immediate reports of any clashes.Security was stepped up in recent days after the FBI warned of the potential for armed protests in Washington and at all 50 state capitol buildings ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration Wednesday.A few people demonstrated in some capital cities, with crowds of a dozen or two, while streets in many other places remained empty. Some protesters said they supported President Donald Trump. But others said they weren’t backing Trump and had instead come to voice their support for gun rights or oppose government overreach.Some statehouses were surrounded by new protective fences, had boarded-up windows and were patrolled by extra police. Legislatures generally were not in session over the weekend.Tall fences also surrounded the U.S. Capitol. The National Mall was closed to the public, and the mayor of Washington asked people not to visit. Some 25,000 National Guard troops from around the country are expected to arrive in the city in the coming days.The security measures were intended to safeguard seats of government from the type of violence that broke out at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when far-right Trump supporters galvanized by his false claims that the election had been stolen from him stormed the building while Congress was certifying the Electoral College vote.The attack left a Capitol Police officer and four others dead. More than 125 people have been arrested on charges related to the insurrection.  At the Ohio Statehouse on Sunday, about two dozen people, including several carrying long guns, protested outside under the watchful eyes of state troopers before dispersing as it began to snow.  Kathy Sherman, who was wearing a visor with Trump printed on it, said she supports the president but distanced herself from the mob that breached the U.S. Capitol.”I’m here to support the right to voice a political view or opinion without fear of censorship, harassment or the threat of losing my job or being physically assaulted,” she said.  The roughly 20 protesters who showed up at Michigan’s Capitol, including some who were armed, were significantly outnumbered by law enforcement officers and media.  At Oregon’s Capitol, fewer than a dozen men wearing military-style outfits, black ski masks and helmets stood nearby with semiautomatic weapons slung across their bodies. Some had upside-down American flags and signs reading such things as “Disarm the government.”At the Texas Capitol, Ben Hawk walked with about a dozen demonstrators up to the locked gates carrying a bullhorn and an AR-15 rifle hanging at the side of his camouflage pants. He condemned the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and said he did not support Trump.”All we came down here to do today was to discuss, gather, network and hang out. And it got blown and twisted completely out of proportion,” Hawk said.At Nevada’s Capitol, where demonstrators supporting Trump have flocked most weekends in recent months, all was quiet except for a lone protester with a sign.”Trump Lost. Be Adults. Go Home,” it read.Authorities in some states said they had no specific indication that demonstrations would occur, much less turn violent. Yet many state officials vowed to be prepared.One counter-protester came early to greet any demonstrators at the Pennsylvania Capitol, saying he had heard about the possibility of a meet-up of a far-right militant group. But no one else was there.”I’m fundamentally against the potential protesters coming here to delegitimize the election, and I don’t want to be passive in expressing my disapproval of them coming into this city,” Stephen Rzonca said.More than a third of governors had called out the National Guard to help protect their capitols and assist local law enforcement. Several governors declared states of emergency, and others closed their capitols to the public until after Biden’s inauguration.Some legislatures also canceled sessions or pared back their work for the coming week.Even before the violence at the Capitol, some statehouses had been the target of vandals and angry protesters during the past year.Last year, armed protesters entered the Michigan Capitol to object to coronavirus lockdowns. People angry over the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee on his neck for several minutes, vandalized capitols in several states, including Colorado, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin.  Last month, crowds in Oregon forced their way into the state Capitol in Salem to protest its closure to the public during a special legislative session on coronavirus measures.Anticipating the potential for violence in the coming week, the building’s first-floor windows were boarded up and the National Guard was deployed.  “The state Capitol has become a fortress,” said Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, a Democrat. “I never thought I’d see that. It breaks my heart.”
 

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Biden Planning to Lay Out ‘Positive, Optimistic’ Vision at Inauguration

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is planning to lay out a “positive, optimistic” vision for the country in his inaugural address on Wednesday and “try to turn the page on the divisiveness, and the hatred of the last four years” under outgoing President Donald Trump, a key Biden aide said Sunday.Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s incoming communications director, told ABC’s “This Week” show that the new U.S. leader will “lay out a path forward that really calls on all of us to work together.”She added, “I think that’s what Americans all across the country want. They want a government that once again is focused on doing the right thing by them and helping them in their day-to-day lives.”“Eighty-one million Americans voted for President-elect Biden in part because he was laying out a vision for this country that gets us to a point where we can work together,” she said.Biden is set to be inaugurated on the west steps of the U.S. Capitol at noon on the 20th in a ceremony that is steeped in U.S. history every four years. This time, however, it is fraught with tension after the January 6 storming of the Capitol by a mob of thousands of supporters of President Donald Trump. The outgoing president urged them to march to the building as lawmakers met to certify Biden’s victory in the Electoral College that is determinative of U.S. presidential elections.FILE – President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware, Jan. 14, 2021, as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris listens.The House of Representatives last week impeached Trump for a second time, accusing him of inciting insurrection, and his Senate trial is set to start soon after Biden’s inauguration. If convicted, Trump, the first U.S. president to be impeached twice, could be barred from ever again holding office.The immediate area around the Capitol where Biden will take the oath of office to uphold the country’s Constitution and protect the country against all enemies, foreign and domestic, is a virtual armed encampment, with fencing and concertina wire encircling the inaugural platform. Thousands of National Guard troops and law enforcement officials are already stationed there to protect against further violence.But Bedingfield said, “Our plan and our expectation is that President-elect Biden will put his hand on the Bible with his family outside on the west side of the Capitol on the 20th.”She said, “There is no question that, of course, we are in a volatile time. We only have to look at the chatter on social media” about the possibility of further protests. Trump has refused to concede his defeat or congratulate Biden while acknowledging there will be a “new administration” come Wednesday.National Guard troops reinforce security around the U.S. Capitol ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Jan. 17, 2021.Trump, ignoring 160 years of U.S. tradition with an outgoing chief executive attending his predecessor’s swearing-in ceremony to demonstrate a peaceful transfer of U.S. power, has announced he plans to skip the inauguration, although Vice President Mike Pence is planning to attend.Trump instead is planning to leave Washington on Wednesday morning with a red-carpet ceremony as he boards Air Force One for a flight to his Atlantic Ocean retreat in Florida. Before he leaves office, however, Trump is expected to grant several more pardons, possibly to key supporters convicted of crimes or facing trials.Bedingfield said that starting Monday, the Biden transition team is holding “daily meetings with the outgoing leadership in national security and law enforcement to make sure we’re ensuring we’re prepared for any scenario that should arise on January 20th.She said the Biden team has “full faith in the United States Secret Service and their partners who have been working for over a year on the planning to ensure (the inauguration) is safe. We’re much looking forward to President-elect Biden putting his hand on the Bible on January 20th.”Once in power, Biden plans to quickly overturn numerous Trump policies.With the U.S. Capitol dome in the background, razor wire is installed to increase security ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, in Washington, Jan. 17, 2021.Incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain said Saturday night that Biden “is assuming the presidency in a moment of profound crisis for our nation. We face four overlapping and compounding crises: the COVID-19 crisis, the resulting economic crisis, the climate crisis, and a racial equity crisis.”Klain said that Biden will “take immediate action” and “sign dozens of executive orders, presidential memoranda, and directives to Cabinet agencies in fulfillment of the promises he made…not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration, but also to start moving our country forward.”Klain said that on Inauguration Day, Biden would “sign roughly a dozen actions to combat the four crises, restore humanity to our immigration system, and make government function for the people.”Among them, Klain said, would be orders to “extend the existing pause on student loan payments and interest for millions of Americans with federal student loans,” to have the U.S. re-join the Paris climate change agreement and to reverse the ban on Muslims entering the U.S.Klain said the new president would challenge Americans to wear face masks for 100 days to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and make mask wearing mandatory on federal property and in interstate travel.He said Biden would issue other orders in the succeeding days to combat the virus that has killed nearly 400,000 Americans and to speed up vaccinations against it.
 

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Harris to Be Sworn In by Justice Sotomayor at Inauguration 

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday, a history-making event in which the first Black, South Asian and female vice president will take her oath of office from the first Latina justice.Harris chose Sotomayor for the task, according to a person familiar with the decision. She’ll also use two Bibles for the swearing-in, one of which belonged to Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice.ABC News first reported the latest details of Harris’ inauguration plans.Harris has expressed admiration for both Sotomayor and Marshall. She and Sotomayor share experience as prosecutors, and she once called Marshall — like Harris, a graduate of Howard University — one of her “greatest heroes.”The vice president-elect said in a video posted to Twitter that she viewed Marshall as “one of the main reasons I wanted to be a lawyer,” calling him “a fighter” in the courtroom.And this will be the second time Sotomayor takes part in an inauguration. She swore in President-elect Joe Biden as vice president in 2013. 

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Researchers: More Than a Dozen Extremist Groups Took Part in Capitol Riots

In the 10 days since the violent Jan. 6 rampage at the U.S. Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters, a fuller picture has emerged about the rioters, with researchers identifying members of more than a dozen extremist groups that took part in the riots.The storming of the Capitol drew extremists that included adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory, the far-right group the Proud Boys, militiamen, white supremacists, anti-maskers and diehard Trump supporters, all gathered to stop Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.“There have been any number of groups that the Southern Poverty Law Center normally tracks and monitors as a part of our work addressing hate and extremism,” said Lecia Brooks, chief of staff for the SPLC.Brooks shared with VOA the names of more than a dozen extremist groups that she said took part in the riots. Other extremist researchers interviewed by VOA confirmed the list. While designated as hate groups by the SPLC, none of the organizations is considered a domestic terrorist entity, and law enforcement officials have not accused any of them of conspiring to mount an attack on the Capitol.Clues into the rioters’ affiliation came from their clothes, signs, flags, banners and other markers, experts say.  While some groups sought to disguise their ties, others flaunted their ideological affiliation. A group of Proud Boys in orange hats identified themselves on camera as members of a state chapter. The Three Percenters carried a U.S. Revolution-era American flag.“They were operating in plain sight,” said Brian Levin, executive director of the center for the study of hate and extremism at California State University.While the presence of the militias and the Proud Boys has attracted the most attention, members of lesser-known groups also joined the rioters.One is the Nationalist Socialist Club, or NSC-131, a recently founded hate group known for disrupting Black Lives Matter protests. Another is No White Guilt, a white nationalist group whose founder has blamed “anti-whiteism” for the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.Levin said that a combination of national groups, smaller state chapters and autonomous regional entities “participated in one way or another in the gathering.”Just how many extremist group members took part in the rioting is unclear. While QAnon boasts tens of thousands of adherents, several of the groups identified by the SPLC have far fewer members. The precise number taking part in the riots may never be known.While prosecutors have so far identified about 300 suspects accused of involvement in the riots, with one or two exceptions, they’ve not tied them to any known extremist groups. Two days after the riots, the FBI arrested Nick Ochs, the founder of the Proud Boys Hawaii, who was among the rioters.Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said law enforcement officials are aware of the ties between the rioters and extremist groups and are seeking to determine the extent to which the attack was a coordinated effort among multiple groups.“If you look at social media you could see a lot of affiliation with some of the protest activity, some of the rioting activity, and it runs the whole gamut of different groups, from soup to nuts, A to Z,” Sherwin told reporters Friday. “But right now … we’re not going to label anything because everything’s on the table in terms of extremist groups.”Arie Perliger, an extremism researcher and professor at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, said that the extremist groups that took part in the Capitol riots also attended the sometimes-violent protest against state-imposed lockdowns earlier this year.“I’m talking about the Boogaloo, I’m talking about the Proud Boys, I’m talking Rise Above Nation,” Perliger said. “I think what really brings all these groups together is their perception that Trump was a very effective vehicle to try to disrupt, to dismantle, to undermine the capabilities of the federal government.”Among those who stormed the Capitol were participants of the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that resulted in the death of a counterprotester.One was Tim Gionet, a far-right activist who goes by the online pseudonym “Baked Alaska.” Gionet livestreamed a video of himself on DLive from inside the capitol.users on Tim Gionet’s, aka Baked Alaska, live stream on DLive are calling to give lawmakers the “rope” and to “hang all the congressmen” on DLive while he’s streaming inside the Capitol building. pic.twitter.com/fq9t7KAlfA— hannah gais (@hannahgais) January 6, 2021He was arrested Friday by the FBI in Houston, Texas, and charged with participating in the Capitol riot.Another is Nick Fuentes, an organizer of the Charlottesville rally who attended Trump’s speech before the riots but did not enter the building, according to Brooks.Here is a look at some of the groups involved in the Capitol riot.Proud BoysThe Proud Boys describe themselves as a “Western male chauvinist” club.The group came to national attention after Trump, asked during a presidential debate in late October to denounce them, declared, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”The Proud Boys’ leader, Enrique Tarrio, is a staunch Trump supporter and led the Latinos for Trump group during the campaign.Brooks said the Proud Boys were among the organizers of the Capitol rioting. In the days leading up to the riots, Brooks said, the Proud Boys used social media platforms popular with extremists to telegraph that “this was something that was going to happen, that other extremist groups should be involved in, so they kind of they kept this going.”In late December, Tarrio wrote on Parler that the Proud Boys “will turn out in record numbers” on Jan. 6 without their traditional black and yellow uniform.Tarrio was arrested days before the riots and barred from returning to Washington. Two days after the riots, the FBI arrested Nick Ochs, the founder of Proud Boys Hawaii.Oath Keepers and Three PercentersThe Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters are part of a growing anti-government “Patriot” movement known for recruiting members of law enforcement and the military.The Oath Keepers was founded in 2009 by Stewart Rhodes, a former paratrooper and Yale Law School graduate. The oath in the name is a reference to the vow military personnel make to defend the Constitution. The group requires its members to pledge, among other things, not to “disarm the American people,” according to the Anti-Defamation League.The Three Percenters, established in 2018, view themselves as the ideological descendants of the purported 3% of Americans that took part in the Revolutionary War.Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, said dozens of Oath Keepers took part in the riots, many carrying the group’s flag. Rhodes was seen in photographs standing outside the Capitol building.The Oath Keepers took to Telegram and other social media and messaging platforms to urge their followers to show up for the protest, according to Beirich. In an interview after the Nov. 3 election with Alex Jones, a far-right radio show host and conspiracy theorist, Rhodes said “we have men stationed outside D.C. as a nuclear option. In case they attempt to remove the president illegally, we’ll step in and stop it.”QAnonQAnon is not an organized group but rather a growing conspiracy theory movement that believes Trump is secretly battling a “deep state” cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles that control the world.Trump has repeatedly retweeted messages from accounts that promote QAnon, and more than a dozen Republican candidates running for Congress in the November election have embraced some of its tenets.Beirich said a number of people marching on the Capitol were carrying QAnon signs.“QAnon were everywhere,” she said. “So it sure seems like a large chunk of the people who stormed the Capitol were members of QAnon.”The FBI has identified QAnon as a potential domestic terror threat. 

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Biden Outlines ‘Day One’ Agenda of Executive Actions 

In his first hours as president, Joe Biden plans to take executive action to roll back some of the most controversial decisions of his predecessor and to address the raging coronavirus pandemic, his incoming chief of staff said Saturday.The opening salvo would herald a 10-day blitz of executive actions as Biden seeks to act swiftly to redirect the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency without waiting for Congress.On Wednesday, following his inauguration, Biden will end Trump’s restriction on immigration to the U.S. from some Muslim-majority countries; move to rejoin the Paris climate accord; and mandate mask-wearing on federal property and during interstate travel. Those are among roughly a dozen actions Biden will take on his first day in the White House, his incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, said in a memo to senior staff.Other actions include extending the pause on student loan payments and taking steps to prevent evictions and foreclosures for those struggling during the pandemic.”These executive actions will deliver relief to the millions of Americans that are struggling in the face of these crises,” Klain said in the memo.Key legislation awaits “Full achievement” of Biden’s goals will require Congress to act, Klain said, including passage of the $1.9 trillion virus relief bill the president-elect outlined Thursday. Klain said Biden would also propose a comprehensive immigration reform bill to lawmakers on his first day in office. The next day, Thursday, Klain said Biden would sign orders related to the COVID-19 outbreak aimed at reopening schools and businesses and expanding virus testing. The following day, Friday, will see action on providing economic relief to those suffering the economic costs of the pandemic. In the following week, Klain said, Biden will take actions relating to criminal justice reform, climate change and immigration — including a directive to speed the reuniting of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under Trump’s policies. More actions will be added, Klain said, once they clear legal review. Incoming presidents traditionally move swiftly to sign an array of executive actions when they take office. Trump did the same, but he found many of his orders challenged and even rejected by courts. 

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Trump Administration Carries Out 13th and Final Execution

The Trump administration on Friday carried out its 13th federal execution since July, an unprecedented run that concluded just five days before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden — an opponent of the federal death penalty.Dustin Higgs, convicted in the killings of three women in a Maryland wildlife refuge in 1996, was the third to receive a lethal injection this week at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.President Donald Trump’s Justice Department resumed federal executions last year following a 17-year hiatus. No president in more than 120 years had overseen as many federal executions.Higgs, 48, was pronounced dead at 1:23 a.m. In his final statement, Higgs was calm but defiant, mentioning the victims by name.“I’d like to say I am an innocent man,” he said. “I did not order the murders.”Louds sobs of a woman crying inconsolably echoed for several minutes from a room reserved for Higgs’ family as his eyes rolled back in his head, showing the whites of his eyes before he stopped moving entirely.Biden signals he’ll end federal executionsThe number of federal death sentences carried out under Trump since 2020 is more than in the previous 56 years combined, reducing the number of prisoners on federal death row by nearly a quarter. It’s likely none of the around 50 remaining men will be executed anytime soon, with Biden signaling he’ll end federal executions.The only woman on death row, Lisa Montgomery, was executed Wednesday for killing a pregnant woman, then cutting the baby out of her womb and claiming it as her own. She was the first woman executed in nearly 70 years.Federal executions began as the coronavirus pandemic raged through prisons nationwide. Among those prisoners who got COVID-19 last month were Higgs and former drug trafficker Corey Johnson, who was executed Thursday. Some members of the execution teams have also previously tested positive for the virus.Not since the waning days of Grover Cleveland’s presidency in the late 1800s has the U.S. government executed federal inmates during a presidential transition, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Cleveland’s was also the last presidency during which the number of civilians executed federally was in the double digits in one year, 1896, during Cleveland’s second term.In October 2000, a federal jury in Maryland convicted Higgs of first-degree murder and kidnapping in the killings of Tamika Black, 19; Mishann Chinn, 23; and Tanji Jackson, 21. His death sentence was the first imposed in the modern era of the federal system in Maryland, which abolished the death penalty in 2013.Higgs’ lawyers argued it was “arbitrary and inequitable” to execute Higgs while Willis Haynes, the man who fired the shots that killed the women, was spared a death sentence.The federal judge who presided over Higgs’ trial two decades ago said he “merits little compassion.”“He received a fair trial and was convicted and sentenced to death by a unanimous jury for a despicable crime,” U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte wrote in a Dec. 29 ruling.In a statement after the execution, Higgs’ attorney, Shawn Nolan, said his client had spent decades on death row helping other inmates and “working tirelessly to fight his unjust convictions.”“The government completed its unprecedented slaughter of 13 human beings tonight by killing Dustin Higgs, a Black man who never killed anyone, on Martin Luther King’s birthday,” Nolan said. “There was no reason to kill him, particularly during the pandemic and when he, himself, was sick with COVID that he contracted because of these irresponsible, super-spreader executions.”’Difficult upbringing’Higgs’ Dec. 19 petition for clemency argued he had been a model prisoner and dedicated father to a son born shortly after his arrest. Higgs had a traumatic childhood and lost his mother to cancer when he was 10, the petition said.“Mr. Higgs’s difficult upbringing was not meaningfully presented to the jury at trial,” his attorneys wrote.Higgs was 23 on the evening of Jan. 26, 1996, when he, Haynes and a third man, Victor Gloria, picked up the three women in Washington, D.C., and drove them to Higgs’ apartment in Laurel, Maryland, to drink alcohol and listen to music. Before dawn the next morning, an argument between Higgs and Jackson prompted her to grab a knife in the kitchen before Haynes persuaded her to drop it.Gloria said Jackson made threats as she left the apartment with the other women and appeared to write down the license plate number of Higgs’ van, angering him. The three men chased after the women in Higgs’ van. Haynes persuaded them to get into the vehicle.Instead of taking them home, Higgs drove them to a secluded spot in the Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge, federal land in Laurel.“Aware at that point that something was amiss, one of the women asked if they were going to have to ‘walk from here’ and Higgs responded, ‘Something like that,’” said an appeals court ruling upholding Higgs’ death sentence.Higgs handed his pistol to Haynes, who shot all three women outside the van before the men left, Gloria testified.“Gloria turned to ask Higgs what he was doing, but saw Higgs holding the steering wheel and watching the shootings from the rearview mirror,” said the 2013 ruling by a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.Investigators found Jackson’s day planner at the scene of the killings. It contained Higgs’ nickname, “Bones,” his telephone number, his address number and the tag number for his van.Chinn worked with the children’s choir at a church, Jackson worked in the office at a high school and Black was a teacher’s aide at National Presbyterian School in Washington, according to The Washington Post.On the day in 2001 when the judge formally sentenced Higgs to death, Black’s mother, Joyce Gaston, said it brought her little solace, the Post reported.“It’s not going to ever be right in my mind,” Gaston said, “That was my daughter. I don’t know how I’m going to deal with it.”

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Armed Protests Feared Ahead of Inauguration

The FBI is issuing new security warnings ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, citing potential armed protests in state capitals nationwide. Meanwhile, Congress is considering proposals to establish a national bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building. Patsy Widakuswara has this report.
Producer: Bakhtiyar Zamanov

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Biden Names Geneticist for New Cabinet-level Post on Science

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden named pioneering geneticist Eric Lander as the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy on Friday, elevating the post to Cabinet-level status for first time.Lander, a Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who helped lead the Human Genome Project, will also serve in the role of presidential science adviser, Biden’s team said.”Science will always be at the forefront of my administration — and these world-renowned scientists will ensure everything we do is grounded in science, facts and the truth,” Biden said in a statement, which announced several personnel appointments to the White House science team.”Their trusted guidance will be essential as we come together to end this pandemic, bring our economy back and pursue new breakthroughs to improve the quality of life of all Americans,” Biden said.Lander, 63, will succeed meteorologist Kelvin Droegemeier, who was named director by President Donald Trump in 2019 after the role was left vacant for nearly two years.Biden, who will be sworn in as president on January 20, excoriated Trump repeatedly during the election campaign for undermining faith in science, whether it was Trump’s downplaying of evidence of climate change or suggesting injecting disinfectants might treat COVID-19.Biden has pledged to increase funding in U.S. research and development, including medical research and clean energy. He also appointed former Secretary of State John Kerry as a special presidential envoy for climate.”Tremendously excited to work alongside so many bright minds to advise the President-elect and push the boundaries of what we dare to believe is possible. We need everyone,” Lander said in a tweet.The duties of OSTP, the White House’s top body for space policy formation under former President Barack Obama, could clash with the National Space Council that Trump revived in 2017.Biden’s transition team is weighing whether to disband or keep the council, a person familiar with the team’s planning said.

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