Political divides deepen Biden's COVID challenge: The Note

Joe Biden inherits President Trump’s actions and as well as his inactions.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The challenges are immense -- crises of public health, the economy, race relations and civic life itself -- big enough by themselves to define the course of a presidency.

On Tuesday evening, Biden will host a COVID-19 memorial event in Washington -- a somber national moment that will be among his last public acts before assuming the presidency on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the outgoing president announced plans to open up travel from restricted countries -- only to have the incoming Biden team announce shortly thereafter that it wouldn't be happening.

Biden will arrive under different circumstances than planned in a changed and locked-down capital, tense over what might come next. His inauguration will take place a day shy of the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed American coronavirus case; the death toll in the U.S. alone now approaches 400,000.

Biden inherits Trump's actions and as well as his inactions. His time in office is likely to be defined by crises that resist easy solutions -- and that will require levels of cooperation not seen in recent times and not encouraged by his predecessor.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Trump heads out of office still looking like a sore loser. Unless plans change, he will be the first outgoing president in more than 150 years to skip the inauguration of the incoming commander-in-chief.

It remains to be seen if Trump will even call Biden before the president-elect takes the oath or leave him a note or a gift like President Barack Obama and most other presidents have done for their successor.

"Michelle and I wish you and Melania the very best as you embark on this great adventure, and know that we stand ready to help in any ways which we can," Obama wrote in 2017 to Trump.

Melania Trump will be the first first lady in modern history not to invite her replacement to the White House before the inauguration either. Coronavirus restrictions and recommendations have, of course, made all get-togethers harder, but for now though all normal niceties, like a pre-inauguration tea or visit, have been canned. Big picture: No one is planning for the two families to even cross paths on Wednesday.

Trump instead wants to direct as much attention as possible to him, it seems. Instead of sharing a ride to the Capitol, he has requested a red-carpet, military-style send-off as he leaves for Mar-a-Lago.

Departing as he is, Trump is choosing again not only to snub the next president, but also raise his nose to the more than 81 million Americans who voted for Biden over him.

The TIP with Kendall Karson

In just over 24 hours, Biden's swearing in will be the last remnant of the 2020 election, and in two short months, voting in at least one state begins as the new president's Cabinet takes shape.

Biden heads to the White House with Democrats assuming control of Congress, but by razor-thin margins. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is navigating one of the slimmest majorities, rivaling the GOP's nine-seat edge in the 107th Congress, and soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer holds the gavel over an evenly divided Senate, once Georgia's newly elected Democratic senators take the oath of office.

In the coming months, a series of House special elections -- set to be held to replace members of Congress who have been nominated to join the new administration -- are expected to shrink House Democrats' majority of 221 seats to Republicans' 211 even further.

Dates for special elections for both Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, who was appointed by Biden to lead Housing and Urban Development, and New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, who was nominated to head the Interior Department, won't be cemented until they resign from Congress. In Louisiana, successors will be elected on March 20 for Rep. Cedric Richmond, who resigned from Congress on Friday to soon assume his role as director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and Luke Letlow, 41, a Republican congressman-elect who died from COVID-19 complications before taking the oath of office -- that is, if the front-runners in those races can avoid a runoff in deeply partisan territory.


The president is unlikely to issue pre-emptive pardons to his children and other close associates, despite weeks of internal battles among White House aides, sources with knowledge of the conversations confirmed to ABC News. The sources went on to say that they do not expect Trump to issue a pardon for himself. The sources noted the conversations have been fluid and the president has been known to change his mind at times.


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Tuesday morning's episode features ABC News Chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl, who describes the mood around President Donald Trump as he begins his final full day in office. ABC News Chief Global Affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz has more on the unprecedented security preparations around Washington, D.C. And Harvard Medical school professor and ABC News contributor Dr. John Brownstein examines President-elect Joe Biden's proposed vaccine rollout plan. http://apple.co/2HPocUL


  • Incoming Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky appears on ABC's "Good Morning America."
  • New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang appears on ABC's "The View."
  • The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence holds a nomination hearing for Avril Haines to serve as the director of national intelligence at 10 a.m.
  • The Senate Committee on Finance holds a nomination hearing for Janet Yellen to serve as treasury secretary at 10 a.m.
  • The Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs holds a nomination hearing for Alejandro Mayorkas to serve as the Department of Homeland Security secretary at 10 a.m.
  • The Bidens will attend a send-off event in Wilmington, Delaware, and President-elect Joe Biden is expected to offer remarks. In the evening, he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will speak in Washington as part of the Presidential Inaugural Committee's memorial to remember and honor the lives lost to COVID-19. It will feature a lighting around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool at 5:30 p.m.
  • Vice President Mike Pence leads a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting at 2 p.m.
  • The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations holds a nomination hearing for Tony Blinken to serve as secretary of state at 2 p.m.
  • The Senate Committee on Armed Services holds a nomination hearing for Lloyd Austin to serve as secretary of defense at 3 p.m.
  • ABC News Live will detail the unprecedented challenges facing President-elect Joe Biden and his incoming administration with a one-hour special, "The Inauguration of Joseph R. Biden, Jr.," airing from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.