Tamara Keith

Updated at 10:10 a.m. ET

Unwilling to admit defeat but with his time in office at its end, President Trump left the White House early Wednesday, skipping the Inauguration Day ceremony that generations of outgoing presidents have attended — a symbolic peaceful transfer of power that had been made all but impossible by his actions after losing the election to Joe Biden.

Updated at 9:40 a.m. ET

When Joe Biden gives his inaugural address this week, he will do so from a place that will illustrate the magnitude of the challenge he faces as the 46th U.S. president — and will test his ability to find the right words to begin to unite a divided nation.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Updated at 2:45 p.m. ET

For a vice president who has navigated service to a mercurial president with praise and public acts of loyalty, Vice President Pence faced the ultimate challenge on Wednesday as he presided over a joint session of Congress that will make official Joe Biden's election — and President Trump's loss.

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday announced the team he would like to lead his response to the nation's greatest public health crisis in a century once he takes office in January.

Vice President Pence traveled to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta on Friday for a briefing, saying America is "in a season of hope" and "help is on the way" with emergency use authorization for the first coronavirus vaccine potentially less than two weeks away.

But what Pence heard from some of the nation's top public health officials was a grim assessment of the current state of the pandemic.

Before President-elect Joe Biden had even formally introduced his intended nominee for budget director, the pushback started rolling in.

Neera Tanden would make history as the first woman of color to head the Office of Management and Budget, but she's also been an outspoken partisan warrior, and that could complicate her confirmation process, especially if Republicans maintain control of the Senate after Georgia's two runoff races in January.

It was Memorial Day when then-candidate Joe Biden made his first public appearance since the coronavirus shut down in-person campaigning. Before he went out to place a wreath at a veterans memorial in Delaware, Biden and his team decided he would wear a mask. It wasn't a difficult decision, an aide said when asked about the choice.

In the two weeks since it became clear that President Trump lost the election to Joe Biden — a period bookended by befuddling press conferences from his longtime lawyer, Rudy Giuliani — the president has made it clear that he will spend his remaining days in the White House in the same way he spent much of his term in office: fighting.

In the hours before President Trump began to realize that he may not get to "Make America Great Again, Again," the former reality television star who stunned the world in 2016 with his improbable leap to the White House allowed for a moment of candor.

"You know, winning is easy. Losing is never easy. Not for me, it's not," Trump told reporters on Election Day, his voice hoarse from an unforgiving three-week marathon of rallies.

Now, the world is seeing just how difficult it is for a man who built his brand on winning to lose.

Updated at 4 a.m. ET

The 2020 presidential election remained up in the air early Wednesday after tight races, strong turnout and record amounts of mail-in voting left millions of legitimate votes still to be counted, and races in six key states too close to call.

Democratic candidate Joe Biden urged patience until "every vote is counted," but President Trump railed against the extra time required to count the ballots, falsely accusing Democrats of trying to steal the election from him.

President Trump is closing out his campaign for reelection way behind in fundraising and trailing in the polls, both nationally and key swing states. Nearly 60 million people have already voted and time is running out before Nov. 3, Election Day.

Updated at 7:45 a.m. ET Monday

With eight days until Election Day, the White House again faces the coronavirus in its ranks and controversy over its national strategy for the pandemic, after President Trump's chief of staff said the administration would not control the spread of the disease.

Two top advisers to Vice President Pence have tested positive for the virus in recent days, as Pence — who tested negative on Saturday and Sunday — crisscrosses the country for rallies in swing states.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

President Trump is racing from tarmac to tarmac in the final weeks of the campaign, holding large rallies to blast out an array of closing arguments — buckshot style — for a second term in office.

So far, most of the stops have been in swing states — Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan and Nevada. But he has also held rallies in Iowa and Georgia, states he won easily in 2016 in a sign the electoral map has shifted on him.

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