Obama handed out what many thought were the final presidential medals of his two terms in the White House in November (16), when he saluted the likes of Tom Hanks, Robert Redford, and Robert De Niro, but he had one more to bestow upon an emotional Biden.

Calling his friend "my brother", Obama said, "For your faith in your fellow Americans, for your love of country and for your lifetime of service that will endure through the generations. For my final time as president, I am pleased to award our nation's highest civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom."

He added, "If you can't admire Joe Biden as a person, you've got a problem. He's as good a man as God ever created."

Obama and Biden will hand over the keys to the White House to Donald Trump and Mike Pence on 20 January (17).