Inauguration read more

Donald Trump is now the 45th president of the United States

Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States Friday after taking the oath of office at the U.S. Capitol in front of thousands of supporters, protesters, and much of the government he is about to lead.

Wearing a bright-red tie and his now-recognizable scowl, Trump walked onto the inaugural podium to the sounds of ceremonial music, polite clapping, and scattered cheers from a half-empty National Mall. It started to drizzle as the ceremony got under way.

Following tradition, Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office to Trump, who gave a brief inaugural address.

“Today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another,” Trump said. “But we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you.”

Trump’s speech touched on many of the same themes he campaigned on: populism, trade, border security, and improving the lives of American workers.

“Jan. 20, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again,” he said. “America will start winning again, winning like never before.

From this date forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first — America first.”

The highly orchestrated ceremony, which kicked off at about 11 a.m., was attended by members of government, past and present. Seated on the podium were former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton, who lost the presidential election to Trump, was near the first row and to the right of the pedestal. It was the first time the two had been face to face since the election.

Trump was joined by his wife Melania and his entire family, including his daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, who will play the role of senior adviser to Trump in the White House, stood nearby.

Obama, grinning and shaking hands, walked out with outgoing Vice President Joe Biden. But not every government official was in attendance Friday. More than 60 Democratic congressmen, including Rep. John Lewis, who recently feuded with Trump, decided to boycott the inauguration.

And the crowd in attendance at the National Mall was somewhat sparse, visibly smaller than past inaugurations.

On the Mall, people voiced cautious optimism following Trump’s address.

“Hope,” said Jim Sullivan, a 64-year-old construction worker from Nashville,  to describe how he was feeling. “We listen to these words and see if he can do it. I can relate to Donald Trump, being in construction. You have to make a lot of people happy and that will help him carry forward and get results. I would like to see the country come together.”

Others felt defiant upon seeing Trump take office, after more than a year of being told it could never happen. “I think the American people have a responsibility. No one has a right to come to this country and get free stuff,” said Fran Gintet, 61, from Long Island, New York.

“I hope the people will see that he’ll build up our military and infuse a spirit of camaraderie. I think the people that are protesting right now are useless eaters that don’t deserve this country. They can’t just say ‘boo hoo,’” she added.

Protests started early Friday and spread throughout the capital before and during the inauguration. A group of more than 200 people dressed in black clashed with police and damaged store windows, including a Starbucks, along L Street near McPherson Square ahead of the ceremony Friday morning. Police wearing riot gear moved quickly to corral the protest, sending out flash-bangs and filling the air with a fog of pepper spray. Some of the protesters wore ski masks and goggles, and some wore gas masks, to protect themselves from the spray.

Police and protesters clashed on L Street just ahead of Trump's swearing-in on Friday. Tess Owen

Police vehicles blocked the road. It was unclear whether arrests would be made, but protesters stood with hands on their heads, chanting, “This is what a police state looks like.”

Other protests Friday morning were more peaceful. A queer dance party organized by the Quockblock Brigade appeared near one of the inauguration checkpoints at dawn. And others took to the streets of D.C. with signs opposing Trump or supporting liberal causes. 

Brennan Harkin, 27, of Boston, Emily Quartarone, 28, of D.C., and Sandy Benton, 30, also of D.C., carry the new signs from the designer of the Obama "Hope" poster.Alex Thompson

Several world leaders wished the new president well, but protesters took to the streets in cities across Europe. In Germany, activists from Greenpeace standing along the Berlin Wall displayed a message reading, “Mr. President, walls divide. Build Bridges!”

Trump’s inauguration capped off one of the most unprecedented rises to power in recent political history. Trump won nearly 3 million fewer votes than his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton; he has no government experience; and he is assuming the office of president with a historically low favorability rating of just 40 percent, according to Gallup. (By contrast, President Obama’s favorable rating at his first inauguration was 78 percent.)

Trump assumes the presidency under a cloud of controversy, as members of his campaign and some of his close associates are under investigation for their links to a foreign government. On the eve of the inauguration, The New York Times reported that the FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies were examining intercepted communications between Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort and two of his other close associates and Russia.

In December, the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russia interfered with the November election with the express purpose of getting Trump elected. Trump, who at first dismissed these intelligence reports, has repeatedly lashed out at the CIA over its finding that Russia was responsible for hacking into the databases of the Democratic National Committee in order to disrupt the U.S. democratic process and help him win the election.

Trump has since acknowledged Russia’s involvement in the hacking, but he will lead the intelligence agencies conducting the ongoing investigations, with the power to direct their efforts if he chooses. He plans to visit the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on Saturday.

Tess Owen, Alex Thompson, and Rex Santus contributed reporting from Washington.

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