Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

Trump's gift to Biden

Donald Trump tried everything to delegitimize the rival who vanquished him. In reality, he's set Joe Biden on course to be a far more consequential U.S. president than he might otherwise have become.

The big picture: President Biden now confronts not just a pandemic, but massive political divisions and an assault on truth — and the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago that threatened democracy itself.


  • In his inaugural address, Biden called on Americans to end "this uncivil war."
  • Only through unity, he said, can the nation defeat domestic terrorism, political extremism, white supremacy, disinformation, threats to democracy — and the pandemic.
  • Kamala Harris was sworn in as the 49th vice president — the first woman, Black American or South Asian American to hold the nation's second highest office. The first Latina on the Supreme Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, administered the oath of office.
  • Biden was sworn in as the 46th president — with his hand on a Bible that's been in his family since 1893 — by Chief Justice John Roberts.
[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FQ_-JiUVSReqipCPqEp660w5l8gg%3D%2F2021%2F01%2F20%2F1611171974672.jpg&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fimages.axios.com&s=75&h=bed4aa36111fa60045e8446a326e89df77eff1e80da193f19e6350794e77b28e&size=980x&c=2666236496 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FQ_-JiUVSReqipCPqEp660w5l8gg%253D%252F2021%252F01%252F20%252F1611171974672.jpg%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fimages.axios.com%26s%3D75%26h%3Dbed4aa36111fa60045e8446a326e89df77eff1e80da193f19e6350794e77b28e%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2666236496%22%7D" expand=1]
Photo: Patrick Semansky/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Driving the news: The inauguration was peaceful — and even normal.

  • Despite intense concerns about security threats — and with massive additional security protocols in place — Biden went ahead with delivering his speech outdoors in an effort to project strength and normalcy after the attack.
  • "Politics doesn't have to be a raging fire destroying everything in its path," Biden said. "Let's start afresh," he exhorted Americans, and asked his political opponents to at least "hear me out."
[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FyLGrTa51rOkVDiNn4HhToK4DrNw%3D%2F2021%2F01%2F20%2F1611172009036.jpg&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fimages.axios.com&s=239&h=fe77a4d6f88c7d81d2831f15c4c7109d2c52675c0fc3f2b6246d8062d677c7e7&size=980x&c=361002305 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FyLGrTa51rOkVDiNn4HhToK4DrNw%253D%252F2021%252F01%252F20%252F1611172009036.jpg%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fimages.axios.com%26s%3D239%26h%3Dfe77a4d6f88c7d81d2831f15c4c7109d2c52675c0fc3f2b6246d8062d677c7e7%26size%3D980x%26c%3D361002305%22%7D" expand=1]
Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Pool via Getty Images

Between the lines: By claiming massive election fraud and theft where there was none, Trump triggered constitutional, disinformation, free speech and national security crises Biden has inherited.

  • By approaching COVID-19 as a political rather than scientific challenge, Trump fueled a pandemic that's killed 400,000 and strangled the economy.

Since losing the election, Trump spent two months repeating the lie that it was fraudulent or stolen.

  • He filed lawsuits to try to block the results.
  • He stalled cooperation on the transition.
  • He whipped up supporters at a Jan. 6 rally, which spun off a deadly insurrection by rioters seeking to block Biden's win.

That triggered Trump's second impeachment by the House, and a pending trial in the Senate that hangs over his post-presidency.

  • On his final day, Trump skipped town early rather than welcoming the new president to the White House.
[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F8RP5PtEJXe2vZunmAmATL-lK1KQ%3D%2F2021%2F01%2F20%2F1611172038752.jpg&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fimages.axios.com&s=27&h=2c2c52c2f5bb19d7702d823b9f30bce61c73ce661835c2e5f57f2f987cbc16ef&size=980x&c=4126962192 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F8RP5PtEJXe2vZunmAmATL-lK1KQ%253D%252F2021%252F01%252F20%252F1611172038752.jpg%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fimages.axios.com%26s%3D27%26h%3D2c2c52c2f5bb19d7702d823b9f30bce61c73ce661835c2e5f57f2f987cbc16ef%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4126962192%22%7D" expand=1]
Trump boards Air Force One for the last time as commander in chief. He and First Lady Melania Trump flew to Florida. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Be smart: Biden, 78, was written off early by some critics during the crowded Democratic primary as an instant one-termer who would be too white to reflect America, too old to shape his party's future, too centrist for modern politics and too consensus-driven to be a strong executive.

  • In working to prove the critics wrong, he'll draw on the lessons of some of the greatest American presidents faced with protecting the nation from destructive forces not only on the outside but within.
  • Borrowing a phrase from Abraham Lincoln when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Biden said, "My whole soul is in this, bringing America together."
[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FYQOH7h2RZYYl3UD6v9OJmX62MkM%3D%2F2021%2F01%2F20%2F1611172071267.jpg&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fimages.axios.com&s=498&h=1396dd31764c988c70802da2c6a9e8ecd78cc6601dd481c2a41d158aa943c919&size=980x&c=743785209 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FYQOH7h2RZYYl3UD6v9OJmX62MkM%253D%252F2021%252F01%252F20%252F1611172071267.jpg%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fimages.axios.com%26s%3D498%26h%3D1396dd31764c988c70802da2c6a9e8ecd78cc6601dd481c2a41d158aa943c919%26size%3D980x%26c%3D743785209%22%7D" expand=1]
Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

4 ffp

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

Keep reading... Show less

Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

Keep reading... Show less

"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

Keep reading... Show less

What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories