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WASHINGTON — Billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump has been sworn-in as the 45th U.S. president in Washington, D.C.
He attended a traditional Inauguration Day service at St. John’s Church Friday morning near the White House, accompanied by his wife Melania, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, his wife Karen, and their families.
The Trumps then headed across Lafayette Square to the White House for a quiet tea and get-together with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama as they get set to leave the home where they have lived for the last eight years. The Obamas and Trumps later are traveling together to the U.S. Capitol for Trump’s swearing-in and inaugural address.
On the eve of his ascent to power, Trump predicted the nation will “see something that is so amazing” when he is sworn in. He is promising to work hard, unify the country and “make America great for everybody.”
In a Twitter comment before the day’s festivities started, Trump said, “It all begins today! The movement continues – the work begins!”
One of his aides, Kellyanne Conway, said he would deliver an inaugural address that is “elegant, beautiful, powerful and brief.”
The skies are cloudy and temperatures chilly in Washington, with a light rain forecast to fall about the time Trump takes the oath of office, swearing as past presidents have to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Hundreds of thousands of people may gather on Washington’s National Mall for a glimpse of the ceremonies on the steps of the Capitol, less than half that attended Obama’s first inauguration in 2009.
Trump’s inauguration heralds a marked change in the Washington political landscape, with Republicans jointly controlling Congress and now the White House for the first time in more than a decade. But Trump’s favorability rating stands at about 40 percent, according to national polls, the lowest for any incoming president in decades.
The new president and like-minded conservative Republican lawmakers have vowed to overturn many of the signature policies of Obama, a Democrat, including his health care reforms, environmental regulations and business restrictions. Numerous contentious legislative disputes are expected, though, leaving the eventual outcome in doubt.
On the international front, Trump has pledged to build a wall on the U.S. southern border with Mexico, toughen the U.S. fight against Islamic terrorists in the Middle East, and ease relations with Russia and President Vladimir Putin.
Anti-Trump protesters are demonstrating against his inauguration. Rowdy protesters clashed with police outside the National Press Club in Washington Thursday night where a pre-inauguration cocktail event called the “Deploraball” was taking place.
Protesters yelled “No Trump. No fascist USA!” as police tried to keep them away from the building’s doors. Some protesters threw objects at police. At least one fire was set in the street. Officers deployed chemical spray at the crowd.
Trump’s journey to the White House marks one of the most unusual paths to political prominence in American history.
Just a year and a half ago, he descended from an escalator at Trump Tower in New York City, the luxury skyscraper he built and where he has lived for years, to make the improbable declaration that he was running for president.
The announcement was greeted by U.S. political figures and media pundits as something of a joke; analysts said there was only a minuscule chance that Trump would wind up as the Republican party’s choice to succeed Obama, let alone to replace him in the White House.
Over the course of a contentious and often bitter year of campaigning, however, Trump triumphed over 16 other Republican candidates, almost all of them “professional” politicians — current or former senators or governors. Trump disparaged his opponents with belittling, schoolyard taunts and then handily beat them at the ballot box in state-by-state party primaries and caucuses.
And then he won November’s national election against Democrat Hillary Clinton, who was looking to become the country’s first female president. Clinton, the wife of former President Bill Clinton, is attending Trump’s inauguration, witnessing it from a nearby seat.
Trump is the first U.S. president who has never held elective office beforehand, or been appointed to a government position or served in its military.
Instead, Trump has spent a life building skyscrapers in New York and elsewhere. He has erected casinos along the Atlantic Ocean, bought an airline and peddled steaks, wine and other products, all with his name branded on them. He wrote a best-selling book about his real-estate deals and hosted a reality-television game show, The Apprentice, that judged contestants’ business skills. As the host, Trump famously told losers of the game: “You’re fired!”