Pageantry, protests to mark the start of
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[January 20, 2017]
By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Donald Trump will be
sworn in on Friday as the 45th president of the United States, taking
power over a divided country after winning a savage campaign and setting
the country on a new, uncertain path at home and abroad.
In a ceremony likely to be attended by 900,000 people, some of them
protesters, 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.
Trump, 70, enters the White House 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 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 Jimmy Carter in 1977, and the same percentage
approved of how he has handled the transition. (http://abcn.ws/2jU9w63)
His ascendancy to the White House, while welcomed by Republicans tired
of Democrat Barack Obama's eight years, raises a host of questions for
the United States at home and abroad.
He campaigned on a pledge to take the country on a more isolationist,
protectionist "America First" path and has vowed to impose a 35 percent
tariff on goods exported to the United States by U.S. companies that
Trump's desire for warmer ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and
threats to cut funding for NATO nations has American allies from Britain
to the Baltics worried that the traditional U.S. security umbrella will
In the Middle East, Trump has said he wants to move the U.S. embassy in
Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, at the risk of angering Arabs. He has
yet to sketch out how he plans to carry out a campaign pledge to "knock
the hell out of" Islamic State militants.
The inaugural festivities may have a more partisan edge than usual given
Trump's scorching campaign, and continuing confrontations between him
and his Democratic critics over the new president's pledge to roll back
many of Obama's policies and his take-no-prisoners Twitter attacks.
More than 50 Democratic lawmakers plan to stay away from the proceedings
to protest Trump, spurred on after he derided U.S. Representative John
Lewis of Georgia, a hero of the civil rights movement, for calling Trump
an illegitimate president.
Thousands of anti-Trump protesters were expected among an inauguration
crowd that organizers estimated will be upwards of 900,000. Many
protesters will be spilling into the streets of Washington on Saturday
when a "Women's March on Washington" is planned. Protests are also
planned in cities abroad.
Trump, whose Nov. 8 victory stunned the world, will launch his
presidency with an inaugural address that will last about 20 minutes and
that he has been writing himself with the help of top aides. It will be
"a very personal and sincere statement about his vision for the
country," said his spokesman, Sean Spicer.
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Workers carry the presidential seal at the site of the Commander in
Chief inaugural ball for President-elect Donald Trump in Washington,
D.C. January 19, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
"He'll talk about infrastructure and education, our manufacturing
base. I think it's going to be less of an agenda and more of a
philosophical document - a vision of where he
sees the country, the proper role of government, the role of
citizens," Spicer told reporters.
Trump's to-do list has given Republicans hope that, since they also
control the U.S. Congress, they can quickly repeal and replace
Obama's signature healthcare law, approve sweeping tax reform and
roll back many federal regulations they feel are stifling the U.S.
Democrats, in search of firm political footing after the unexpected
defeat of their presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, are
planning to fight him at every turn, deeply opposed to his
anti-immigrant rhetoric from the campaign trail and plans to build a
wall along the southern U.S. border with Mexico.
Trump's critics have been emboldened to attack his legitimacy
because his win came in the state-by-state Electoral College, which
gives smaller states more clout in the outcome. He lost the popular
vote to Clinton by about 2.9 million votes.
"Any time you donít win the popular vote but you win by the
Electoral College it makes people come unglued," said presidential
historian Douglas Brinkley. "It angers people that somebody can win
the popular vote but you're not president."
Trump critics also point to the conclusion of U.S. intelligence
agencies that Russia used hacking and other methods during the
campaign to try to tilt the election in Trump'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 supporters, many of them working-class whites, Trump is a
refreshingly anti-establishment figure who eschews political
correctness. To 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.
But while a Wall Street Journal opinion poll showed a majority of
Americans would like Trump to give up on Twitter, the new president
said he will continue because the U.S. news media does not treat him
"Look, I don't like tweeting," Trump told Fox News. "I have other
things I could be doing. But I get very dishonest media, very
dishonest press. And it's my only way that I can counteract."
(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Frances Kerry)
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