Biden and Harris mourn nearly 400,000 Covid deaths at memorial as Trump is expected to pardon more loyalists

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Chris Riotta
·2 min read
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 (AP)
(AP)

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will preside over a national memorial in Washington D.C. for the nearly 400,000 Americans who have died due to the coronavirus pandemic, with just one day left before their inauguration.

The move is reflective of the incoming administration and its top concerns. Mr Biden and Ms Harris have both described vaccine distribution and curbing the spread of Covid-19 as two of their key priorities while entering office, releasing both vaccine rollout and economic recovery plans in recent days.

But it also appears to reflects a stark comparison to the concerns of the current administration — or at least that of the incumbent president.

President Donald Trump has spent recent days in reported isolation, increasingly distancing himself from aides in the West Wing while instead favouring counsel from the likes of Michael Lindell, CEO of My Pillow, who was seen at the White House this week with notes about martial law in hand.

He has made few public appearances since the deadly riots at the Capitol, which left at least five people dead, including United States Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who officials said died as a result of injuries sustained by the violent mob.

The White House continues to release a daily public schedule with no specific details for the president. It simply reads: “President Trump will work from early in the morning until late in the evening. He will make many calls and have many meetings.”

That was Mr Trump’s official schedule for his final day as commander-in-chief, though reports indicated he was soon preparing to issue as many as 100 pardons and commutations, with some of those going to loyalists and close confidants — as they did the last time, when Mr Trump pardoned his former campaign officials and longtime allies, including Paul Manafort and Roger Stone.

Mr Biden and Ms Harris were meanwhile scheduled to participate in a somber lighting ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

The president-elect’s inaugural committee described the ceremony in a statement as the “first-ever lighting around the Reflecting Pool to memorialize American lives lost.”

Mr Biden and Ms Harris began the week by volunteering at food banks in Philadelphia and Washington, respectively, while urging other Americans to participate in the Martin Luther King Day of National Service.

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