Friday, 20 Jan 2017 02:47 PM
Donald Trump began his presidency with a combative, populist address aimed squarely at his aggrieved supporters, making little effort to reach beyond his political base or reassure foreign leaders.
His inaugural speech on Friday painted an ominous portrait of the nation at the cusp of his administration: a place of violent "American carnage" where "rusted-out factories" are "scattered like tombstones" and the middle class’s wealth is "ripped from their homes." He promised an unapologetic nationalism that would protect U.S. jobs and a foreign policy that would eradicate Islamic terrorism and put the country’s interests ahead of all others.
"From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first," Trump said.
Much of the speech was couched as an attack against a national political establishment that he said had pursued its own interests at the expense of the American people.
"Today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another," Trump said. "We are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people."
Anyone looking for moderation from the new president on his first day in office would find none.
Trump enters office with historically low approval ratings -- 40 percent according to Gallup -- and a challenge to unite his divided nation. He and his party in Congress already are at odds, especially on the issue of the Russian government’s role in electing him. Financial markets, which soared immediately following his election, have recently cooled.
Trump, 70, who has not previously held elected office, took the oath of office at about noon from Chief Justice John Roberts at the U.S. Capitol. In a nod to the populist groundswell that propelled him to the White House, he said he would remake the nation’s political order.
"The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer," Trump said as light rain began to fall. "Everyone is listening to you now."
Read more: Text of Donald Trump’s inaugural address
"This American carnage stops right here and stops right now," Trump said. "The wealth of the middle class has been ripped from their homes and redistributed all across the world. But that is the past, and now we are looking only to the future."
Scattered protests broke out in downtown Washington by activists supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, gay rights and women’s rights, and others.
A cluster of several dozen people, most dressed in black and with masks over their faces, charged down streets three blocks from the White House smashing windows of about a half-dozen businesses including a Starbucks coffee shop, a McDonald’s Corp. restaurant and branches of Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America Corp. Police pursued them into the afternoon, deploying tear gas and flash-bang grenades to disperse crowds.
Protesters spray-painted an anarchy sign on a concrete planter. After police cornered a group of protesters at an office building, people in the surrounding crowd chanted "you’re protecting fascists" and "pigs quit your jobs."
Clashes between Trump protesters and supporters were peaceful, with the groups chanting at each other. The Washington police department reported 95 arrests.
Democrats criticized Trump’s speech.
"It was surprisingly dark to me," Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow said. "Not very hopeful or inspirational. I see a lot of hopefulness in our cities and hopefulness among our people, and he described a very dire picture of America that I don’t share."
Trump, a billionaire real estate developer, rode to the Capitol from the White House in the presidential limousine together with Obama -- the first black president, whose legitimacy was once challenged by the man succeeding him.
The shared ride to the inauguration is a tradition on a day filled with familiar rituals designed to ease the transfer of power. Obama and his wife, Michelle, hosted Trump and his wife for morning tea at the White House before the motorcade, another custom of the day.
The Obamas greeted the Trumps on the White House’s North Portico. Obama offered Trump a handshake. Trump gave Michelle Obama a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Melania Trump presented the outgoing First Lady a box wrapped in Tiffany blue.
After Trump was sworn in, the Obamas departed the Capitol in the presidential helicopter for a vacation in Palm Springs, California. Trump went to lunch with congressional leaders.
Even as Trump has defied convention with his reflexive, ubiquitous use of Twitter to excoriate critics and wage partisan warfare during the post-election transition period, he embraced the pomp and tradition of Inauguration Day.
Tens of thousands of people began assembling on the National Mall in the early morning hours, though crowds appeared to be notably smaller than for Obama’s two inaugurations. Trains on Washington’s subway system, Metro, were largely uncrowded and traffic in the city was light. Inauguration Day is a holiday for most federal workers.
Metro said on Twitter that as of 11:00 a.m. in New York, 193,000 people had ridden on the system. That was the lowest figure since at least President George W. Bush’s second inauguration in 2005. At the same time for Obama’s inaugurations in 2013 and 2009, 317,000 and 513,000 people had ridden the Metro system.
There was a heavy security presence in the Capitol, with parked buses, dump trucks and humvees blocking intersections downtown. Police and soldiers patrolled Metro stations in the vicinity of the Mall.
Like past presidents-elect, Trump spent the night before his inauguration at the historic Blair House, a quick walk from the White House. He attended a morning prayer service at St. John’s church, known as the President’s Church, across Lafayette Square from the White House. The Trumps are to attend three inaugural balls in the evening.
In his speech, Trump vowed to intensify the U.S. war on terrorism, now in its 16th year. Trump said he would "unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism," a phrase Obama had avoided, and eliminate it "completely from the face of the Earth."
“Together we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again,” Trump said in his speech. “And, yes, together we will make America great again.”
Minutes before the Trumps arrived for tea with the Obamas, painters walked in to the White House West Wing carrying gray buckets. Workers rushed through a carefully orchestrated turnover of the presidential residence to prepare for its new tenant.
Obama walked from the West Wing along a colonnade connecting to the residence, followed by Vice President Joe Biden. Asked if he felt nostalgic, Obama replied, "Of course."
The president left a letter for Trump in the desk of the Oval Office, as is tradition for the outgoing chief executive, Obama spokesman Eric Schultz said. He declined to provide a copy of the letter.
Trump’s campaign opponent, Hillary Clinton, was met by a smattering of boos from Trump supporters when she arrived at the Capitol with her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
"I’m here today to honor our democracy & its enduring values," Clinton wrote on Twitter before the swearing-in. "I will never stop believing in our country & its future."
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer was loudly jeered by the crowd at the Capitol as he spoke in favor of gay rights and immigrants ahead of Trump’s swearing-in.
Trump invited Christian and Jewish clergy to speak at the inauguration: Reverend Franklin Graham, the Southern evangelical and son of Billy Graham; Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles; and Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, an African-American pastor from Detroit.
Trump was born in the Queens borough of New York, one of five children to Fred Trump, a first-generation German-American, and Scotland-born Mary Anne MacLeod.
A graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, he took over his father’s real estate business, later renaming it The Trump Organization. He drew attention for his flashy style and high-profile deals, some successful and others ending in bankruptcy, including hotels, casinos, an airline and Trump Tower.
Trump’s celebrity grew with his role as host of NBC’s reality-TV hit "The Apprentice," which began airing in January 2004. Contestants with business skills competed through multiple elimination rounds over the course of a season. Trump would dismiss losing contestants with the catch phrase, "You’re fired!"
Trump considered running for president several times dating back to the late 1980s. His political following expanded early in the Obama administration as he championed false claims that the president wasn’t born in the U.S. and thus was ineligible for the office.
Dozens of Democratic U.S. lawmakers planned to boycott Trump’s inauguration, and law enforcement prepared for protests throughout the day and the weekend.
“The entire national heritage is at stake,” said historian Douglas Brinkley. “The one thing that makes our democracy stand supreme to others in the world is that we’ve been able to do these transfers in a relatively no-drama way.”
Trump has pledged to overturn or revamp almost all of Obama’s policies -- on health care, U.S. relations with Russia, China and European allies, his counter-terrorism strategy and environmental protections. He also has pledged to shape a more conservative Supreme Court over time.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence was sworn in by Clarence Thomas, a conservative and the only African-American justice currently on the court.