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US President-elect Joe Biden wept as he eulogised his late son Beau before flying to Washington, where disgraced Donald Trump was spending his lonely final hours in the White House.
Biden, 78, became emotional during a brief farewell ceremony in his home state of Delaware as he remembered his son, who died of cancer in 2015 aged just 46.
As tears streamed down his face, he said his one regret was that Beau, who served as attorney general in Delaware, was not there, adding: "We should be introducing him as president.
"Don't tell me things can't change. They can, and they do. I'm truly honored to be your next president and commander in chief."
Trump, meanwhile, was condemned for a swathe of last-minute pardons, including his former chief strategist Steve Bannon, as critics called him the worst US president ever.
Click here for our live blog with the latest updates from Washington as Trump leaves the White House and Biden is inaugurated.
Joe Biden wipes away tears during a farewell ceremony in Delaware
(Image: Getty Images)
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Trump, 74, will give himself a military-style send-off from an air force base when he and wife Melania leave the White House early and skip Biden's inauguration. They are expected to fly to Florida on Air Force One.
The property tycoon's refusal to meet with his successor and affirm the peaceful transfer of power is a break with more than a century and a half of political tradition, and a sign of how he has become increasingly isolated in his final days in office.
A number of figures, including Vice President Mike Pence, have refused to attend his send-off. Pence will attend Biden's inauguration ceremony, which begins at noon local time as Washington is in an unprecedented lockdown to prevent violence following the deadly invasion of the US Capitol building.
Was Donald Trump the worst US president ever? Will anything change under Joe Biden? Let us know in the comments below.
Biden became emotional as he remembered his late son Beau
Biden's son Beau tragically passed away in 2015 after a battle with brain cancer
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)
At Tuesday's farewell ceremony in Delaware, held at a National Guard centre named after Beau, Biden was brought to tears as reflected on his long journey to the White House and remembered his son.
The former senator said: "When I die, Delaware will be written on my heart.
"It's deeply personal that our next journey to Washington starts here, a place that defines the very best of who we are as Americans.
"I know these are dark times, but there is always light. That's what this state has taught me the most."
Donald and Melania Trump (pictured in December) will leave the White House one final time
(Image: Getty Images)
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Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris later appeared at a Lincoln Memorial remembrance for America's 400,000 Covid-19 victims before he spent the night at Blair House, the president's official guesthouse.
Biden, who has had a five-decade career in public service, will move into the White House with first lady Jill Biden after being sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.
He will become the oldest US president in history at a scaled-back ceremony in Washington that has been largely stripped of its usual pomp and circumstance, due both to the coronavirus as well as security concerns following the January 6 assault on the US Capitol by Trump supporters, including white supremacists and far-right extremists.
Five people – a police officer and four Trump fanatics – died during the siege which occurred as lawmakers confirmed Biden's election win over Trump.
Trump, who badly mishandled the Covid-19 pandemic and widened the divide between Americans during his four-year term, has been impeached for inciting the mob. He is the only president in US history to be impeached twice, and still has not formally conceded the November 3 election.
Only a small number of attendees will be present as Democrat Biden takes the oath of office before US Chief Justice John Roberts, placing his hand on an heirloom Bible that has been in the Biden family for more than a century.
Washington is in an unprecedented lockdown to prevent violence
(Image: Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)
Biden and wife Jill Harris (right) with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff in front of the Washington Monument
Biden, who has vowed to "restore the soul of America," will call for American unity at a time of crisis in his inaugural address, according to advisers.
Harris, the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, will become the first Black person, first woman and first Asian American to serve as vice president after she is sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court's first Latina member.
Former presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton, as well as Pence and senior Republicans, are expected to attend the ceremony.
It will unfold in front of a heavily fortified Capitol building, where a mob of rioters stormed the building two weeks ago, enraged by Trump's bogus claims that November's election was stolen with millions of fraudulent votes.
Thousands of National Guard troops have been brought in to make sure inauguration day is peaceful.