Trump, sworn in as US president, promises to put 'America First'
The 45th president of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump, repeats his campaign foreign policy promise in his inaugural address, promising to value the US above all else; he tells the crowd that he was returning power to them from DC; 44th President Barack Obama departs Washington.
WASHINGTON — Donald Trump took power as the 45th president of the United States on Friday and pledged to pursue "America First" policies in an inaugural address that was a populist, anti-Washington rallying cry.
Sketching a bleak vision of a country he said was ravaged by rusted-out factories, crime, gangs and drugs, Trump indirectly blamed his predecessors in the White House for policies that helped the establishment at the expense of struggling families.
"From this moment on, it's going to be America First," the Republican told hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the grounds of the National Mall after taking the oath of office on the West Front of the US Capitol.
Four past US presidents, three Democrats and a Republican, sat nearby. Scattered street protests erupted against Trump elsewhere in Washington.
"Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families," Trump said, describing the country's social and economic ills as "American carnage."
Trump, 70, takes over a country divided after a savage election campaign. A wealthy New York businessman and former reality TV star, he will set the country on a new, uncertain path at home and abroad.
Trump's inaugural address revisited the themes of the campaign rally speeches that carried him to an improbable victory on Nov. 8 over Democrat Hillary Clinton, who attended the ceremony with her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
Under pressure to unite the country after the bitterly fought campaign, Trump said that through allegiance to the United States, "we will rediscover our loyalty to each other" and called for a "new national pride" that would help heal divisions.
Abroad, Trump signaled the possibility of a more aggressive approach to Islamic State militants than his immediate predecessor, Democrat Barack Obama.
"We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones, and united the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth," he said.
After repeating the 35-word oath of office, Trump stretched his arms wide and hugged his wife, Melania, and other members of his family. Ceremonial cannon blasts fired.
The transition from a Democratic president to a Republican took place before a crowd of former presidents, dignitaries and hundreds of thousands of people on the grounds of the National Mall. The crowd stretched westward on a cool day of occasional light rain.
Former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, departed Washington immediately after the ceremony. The Obamas held hands as they walked to a military helicopter parked outside the East Front of the Capitol after Trump took the oath of office.
Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump escorted the Obamas, and then the couples exchanges small talk and handshakes. The helicopter headed to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, where Obama will address staff and supporters before he and his wife fly to California for a vacation.
The Obamas will return to Washington where they will live while their youngest daughter will finish school.
Away from the Capitol, masked activists ran through the streets smashing windows with hammers at a McDonald's restaurant, a Starbucks coffee shop and Bobby Van's Grill steakhouse several blocks from the White House.
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.
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate who Trump defeated on Nov 8, attended the ceremony with her husband, former President Bill Clinton. 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 Melania Trump, clad in a classic-styled, powder blue ensemble, then headed into the White House for a meeting with Obama and his wife, Michelle.
Trump took office with work to do to bolster his image.
During a testy transition period since his stunning election win, Trump 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.
Trump's agendaHis ascension to the White House, while welcomed by Republicans tired of Obama's eight years in office, raises a host of questions for the United States.
Trump campaigned on a pledge to take the country on a more isolationist, protectionist path and has vowed to impose a 35 percent tariff on goods on imports from US companies that went abroad.
His desire for warmer ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and threats to cut funding for North Atlantic Treaty Organization nations has allies from Britain to the Baltics worried that the traditional US security umbrella will be diminished.
In the Middle East, Trump has said he wants to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, at the risk of angering Arabs and stirring international concern. He has yet to sketch out how he plans to carry out a campaign pledge to "knock the hell out of" ISIS militants.
The inaugural festivities may have a more partisan edge than usual, given Trump's scorching campaign and continuing confrontations between him and Democrats over his take-no-prisoners Twitter attacks and pledge to roll back many of Obama's policies.
More than 60 Democratic lawmakers planned to stay away from the proceedings to protest Trump, spurred on after he derided US Representative John Lewis of Georgia, a hero of the civil rights movement, for calling him an illegitimate president.
Thousands of anti-Trump protesters were expected among the inauguration crowd and many demonstrators will participate in a "Women's March on Washington" on Saturday. Protests are also planned in other cities in the United States and abroad.
Keith Kidwell, chairman of the Republican Party in Beaufort County, North Carolina, was among the crowds on Friday, eager to see the start of the Trump presidency.
"I cling to my guns and my Bible. I've been waiting a long eight years for this day," said Kidwell, adding he initially supported US Senator Ted Cruz to be the Republican presidential nominee but was now squarely behind Trump.
Quick actionTrump's to-do list has given Republicans hope that, since they also control the US Congress, they can quickly repeal and replace Obama's signature healthcare law, approve sweeping tax reform and roll back many federal regulations they say are stifling the US economy.
"He's going to inject a shock to the system here almost immediately," Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News.
Democrats, in search of firm political footing after the unexpected defeat of Hillary Clinton, are planning to fight him at every turn. They deeply oppose Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric from the campaign trail and plans to build a wall along the southern US border with Mexico.
Trump's critics have been emboldened to attack his legitimacy because his win came in the Electoral College, which gives smaller states more clout in the outcome. He lost the popular vote to Clinton by about 2.9 million.
Trump's critics also point to the conclusion of US intelligence agencies that Russia used hacking and other methods during the campaign to try to tilt the election in the Republican's favor. Trump has acknowledged the finding—denied by Moscow—that Russia was behind the hacking but said it did not affect the outcome of the election.
To his critics—including Obama who during the campaign called Trump temperamentally unfit for the White House—his straight talk can be jarring, especially when expressed in tweets. His supporters, many of them working-class whites, see Trump as a refreshingly anti-establishment figure who eschews political correctness.
"He's here for the working man" supporter Adam Coletti of Plainfield, Connecticut, said as he headed toward the inauguration.