Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States Friday, taking the helm of a deeply divided nation and putting Republicans in control of the White House for the first time in eight years.
The billionaire businessman and former reality television star has pledged an era of profound change, energizing his supporters with promises to wipe away predecessor Barack Obama's signature achievements and to restore America to a lost position of strength. But Trump's call for restrictive immigration measures and his caustic campaign rhetoric about women and minorities have infuriated other millions of Americans. He assumes office as one of the most unpopular incoming presidents in modern history.
The pomp and pageantry of the inaugural celebrations were also shadowed by questions about Trump's ties to Russia, which U.S. intelligence agencies have determined worked to tip the 2016 election to help the Republican win.
Trump's inauguration drew crowds to the nation's capital to witness the history. It repelled others. More than 60 House Democrats refused to attend his swearing in ceremony in the shadow of the Capitol dome. One Democrat who did sit among the dignitaries was Hillary Clinton, Trump's vanquished campaign rival who was widely expected by both parties to be the one taking the oath of office.
Instead, it was Trump placing his hand on two Bibles, one used by his family and another used for President Abraham Lincoln's inauguration. At 70, Trump is the oldest person to be sworn in as president, marking a generational step backward after two terms for Obama, one of the youngest presidents to serve as commander in chief.
Trump takes charge of an economy that has recovered from the Great Recession but has nonetheless left millions of Americans feeling left behind. The nation's longest war is still being waged in Afghanistan and U.S. troops are battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The American health care system was expanded to reach millions more Americans during Obama's tenure, but at considerable financial costs. Trump has vowed to dismantle and rebuild it.
Trump faces such challenges as the first president to take office without ever having held a political position or served in the military. He has stacked his Cabinet with established Washington figures and wealthy business leaders. Though his team's conservative bent has been cheered by many Republicans, the overwhelmingly white and male Cabinet has been criticized for a lack of diversity.
Officials expected hundreds of thousands of people to flock to the National Mall to witness the inauguration of the 45th president, though early crowds appeared smaller than past celebrations. Demonstrations unfolded at various security checkpoints near the Capitol as police in riot gear helped ticket-holders get through to the ceremony.
In a show of solidarity, all of the living American presidents attended the swearing-in ceremony, except for 92-year-old George H.W. Bush, who was hospitalized this week with pneumonia. His wife, Barbara, was also admitted to the hospital after falling ill.
While Trump came to power bucking convention, he wrapped himself in the traditions that accompany the peaceful transfer of power. Following a morning church service with his family, Trump and his wife, Melania, had tea at the White House with Obama and outgoing first lady Michelle Obama.
The two couples greeted each other with handshakes and hugs, and Mrs. Trump presented Mrs. Obama with a gift. Following their private gathering in the executive mansion, the Trumps and Obamas traveled together to the Capitol for the swearing in ceremony.
'The work begins!' says Trump as he prepares to be sworn in as US president
Donald Trump began the ceremonial events leading up to his swearing-in later on Friday as the 45th president of the United States, as black-clad activists smashed windows in downtown Washington to protest his inauguration.
Trump and his vice president, Mike Pence, will take the oath of office at midday (1700 GMT) outside the domed U.S. Capitol, with U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts presiding. Organizers expected crowds of upwards of 900,000 people, including protesters.
Away from the Capitol, masked activists ran through the streets smashing store and car windows. They carried black anarchist flags and signs that said, "Join the resistance, fight back now." Police used pepper spray and chased them down a major avenue, a Reuters eyewitness reported.
Trump, a Republican, will take power in a country divided after a bitter election campaign. He will set the country on a new, uncertain path at home and abroad.
"It all begins today!" he wrote in a note on Twitter at about 7:30 a.m. "I will see you at 11:00 A.M. for the swearing-in. THE MOVEMENT CONTINUES - THE WORK BEGINS!"
The West Front of the Capitol was teeming with dignitaries for the ceremony, including former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, who was defeated by Trump in the Nov. 8 election. A big cheer rang out from the crowd when she was introduced.
Former presidents George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter were also present with their wives. Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush, 92, was in Houston recovering from pneumonia.
Trump and his vice president, Mike Pence, began the day attending a prayer service at St. John's Episcopal Church near the White House.
Trump, wearing a dark suit and red tie, and his wife, Melania, clad in a classic-styled, powder blue ensemble, then headed into the White House for a meeting with outgoing Democratic President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle.
Streets near the president's home were blocked to traffic by empty buses and dump trucks or temporary pedestrian security checkpoints. Checkpoints around the National Mall in front of the Capitol opened early to begin admitting guests. Some wore red caps bearing Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan.
Trump, 70, takes office with work to do to bolster his image. During a testy transition period since his stunning November election win, the wealthy New York businessman and former reality TV star has repeatedly engaged in Twitter attacks against his critics, so much so that one fellow Republican, Senator John McCain, told CNN that Trump seemed to want to "engage with every windmill that he can find."
An ABC News/Washington Post poll this week found only 40 percent of Americans viewed Trump favorably, the lowest rating for an incoming president since Democrat Carter in 1977, and the same percentage approved of how he has handled the transition.
Donald Trump takes the stage for his inauguration
President-elect Donald Trump has taken the stage for his inauguration.
The Republican businessman from New York flashed a thumbs-up to the crowd as he was introduced.
Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence took the stage at the Capitol minutes after President Barack Obama and members of his family and administration.
Trump will soon be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.
Trump begins inauguration day activities with church service
US President-elect Donald Trump on Friday attended the first event of his jam-packed inauguration day - a prayer service just hours before he takes the oath of office.
Trump, his wife Melania and his adult children arrived at St. John's Church near the White House for what was expected to be an hour-long service before he heads for morning tea with outgoing President Barack Obama.
The Obamas and the Trumps will then travel the 2.5 miles (four kilometers) down Pennsylvania Avenue to the swearing-in ceremony on the steps of the Capitol.
Inaugural cheers, fireworks: Trump sweeps in for his big day
With fireworks heralding his big moment, Donald Trump swept into Washington Thursday on the eve of his presidential inauguration and pledged to unify a nation sorely divided and clamoring for change. The capital braced for an onslaught of crowds and demonstrators — with all the attendant hoopla and hand-wringing.
"It's a movement like we've never seen anywhere in the world," the president-elect declared at a celebratory evening concert Thursday night with the majestic Lincoln Memorial for a backdrop. To the unwavering supporters who were with him from the start, he promised: "You're not forgotten any more. You're not forgotten any more."
"I'll see you tomorrow," he called out, and then fireworks exploded into the evening sky.
Trump began taking on more trappings of the presidency during the day, giving a salute to the Air Force officer who welcomed him as he stepped off a military jet with wife Melania at Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington. Later, he placed a ceremonial wreath at Arlington National Cemetery.
At a luncheon in a ballroom at his own hotel, he gave a shout-out to Republican congressional leaders, declaring: "I just want to let the world know we're doing very well together." House Speaker Paul Ryan, he said, will finally have someone to sign legislation into law. Then Trump veered into the territory of the unknowable to boast his Cabinet selections had "by far the highest IQ of any Cabinet ever."
Just blocks away, the White House was quickly emptying out. President Barack Obama had his final weekly lunch with Vice President Joe Biden and got in a few final official acts, cutting the sentences of 330 inmates and placing a call to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence, in a tweet, called Inauguration Eve "a momentous day before a historic day," as security barricades and blockades went up around Washington in preparation for Friday's swearing-in at the Capitol.
"We are all ready to go to work," Pence said. "In fact, we can't wait to get to work for the American people to make it great again."
Outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said he'd be putting on his "favorite DHS jacket" and taking to the streets to inspect security preparations for the inaugural festivities.
He told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that areas where inaugural crowds will congregate will be "extra fortified this year with dump trucks, heavily armored vehicles to prevent anybody who's not authorized from being in the area from driving something in there." He said there was "no specific credible threat" related to the inauguration.
Trump's public schedule for the inaugural celebration began at Arlington, where he and Pence stood at attention as a bugler played taps at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Trump's wife, children and grandchildren silently looked on.
From there, Trump shuttled to a celebratory welcome concert on the steps of Lincoln Memorial that ended with fireworks filling the sky.
The concert, open to the public, offered headliners including country star Toby Keith, soul's Sam Moore and rockers 3 Doors Down. But not singer Jennifer Holliday: She backed out after an outcry from Trump critics.
"This is some day, dear friends," actor Jon Voight told the crowd, casting Trump's impending inauguration as evidence of divine intervention after "a parade of propaganda that left us all breathless with anticipation, not knowing if God could reverse all the negative lies against Mr. Trump."
The crowd sent up a cheer when the giant screens flashed video of Trump singing along as Lee Greenwood delivered his signature "God Bless the U.S. A." Trump declared such a concert had a never been done before. In fact, a number of past presidents have staged inaugural concerts among the monuments.
Tom Barrack, the chief architect of Trump's inaugural festivities, said Trump would show the world that "we can argue, we can fight and we can debate," but then the nation unites behind one president.
Trump, though, still had an urge to rehearse particulars of the long, 18-month campaign, from its early days when he claimed "a lot of people didn't give us much of a chance" to the final weeks when his rallies took him to "state after state after state."
Spokesman Sean Spicer said the president-elect was still making "edits and additions" to the inaugural address he'll deliver at Friday's swearing-in.
Never mind about Trump's gilded private plane: He made his Washington entrance on a Boeing 757 that is part of the fleet of military planes that become Air Force One whenever the president is aboard. The president-elect, who came to Washington without any press on his plane, was joined on the trip by a gaggle of children, grandchildren and other members of his extended family. Also spotted: bags of dresses and formalwear for the coming days' festivities.
At the luncheon, Trump made sure to work in a plug for his hotel, saying, "This is a gorgeous room. A total genius must have built this place." Reporters covering Trump's remark were removed from the room before the president-elect finished speaking.
Ebullient Trump fans were ready for a three-day party.
"We're hoping for good weather and hoping for some unity," said Jon-Paul Oldham, a firefighter who came from Thomaston, Connecticut. He said everyone should want Trump to succeed.
"Wanting him to fail is like wanting the plane to crash but you're on the plane," Oldham said.
It does appear it may rain on Trump's parade.
With rain in the forecast, the National Park Service announced that it was easing its "no umbrella" policy for Friday, allowing collapsible umbrellas along the parade route and on the National Mall.
But Trump was unfazed, telling donors at an event Thursday night that if "it really pours that's OK, because people will realize it's my real hair. Might be a mess, but they're going to see that it's my real hair."
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