WASHINGTON D.C. - Donald J. Trump assumed the presidency surrounded by the Washington political elite under a cloudy, drizzly sky on Friday, declaring himself to be the advocate of the “forgotten” citizens who elected him to the White House.
“Today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another -- but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People,” Trump said in a brief, 16 minute speech.
At first, it seemed that Trump’s remarks would take a traditional route. He called for unity and offered thanks, including to outgoing President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.
But quickly, the Republican began to question the very political class that stood with him on stage, launching into an attack against a small group in the nation's capital that have reaped the rewards of government while the people bore the cost.
The president distanced himself from that establishment and sought to identify with those who’ve been "excluded.”
"Us" versus "them"
“Washington flourished -- but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered -- but the jobs left, and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country,” Trump said.
“Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation's capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. This moment is your moment: it belongs to you,” Trump said, implying that his leadership will not be threatened by partisan or ideological interests.
Indeed, Trump made no mention of the issues most important to traditional conservatives, such as abortion or the size of the government.
Neither was there any mention of the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants, though there appeared to be little place for foreigners in his "new vision" for the country.
Trump's compendium of grievances made him sound more like a politician from a developing country than the leader of a world power, which many foreign leaders blame for their ills.
"From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this moment on, it's going to be America First,” he said.
Trump insisted that he would remake a U.S. economy that has been dominated by other countries. Though he did not name specific countries, China and Mexico were at the forefront of Trump’s discourse throughout his campaign.
“For many decades, we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; we've defended other nation's borders while refusing to defend our own; and spent trillions of dollars overseas while America's infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay,” he said.
“We've made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon,” he added.
In his message Trump seemed ready to begin to dismantle President Obama's diplomatic doctrine by promising to eradicate “radical Islam … from the face of the Earth." He also promised the United States would not seek to impose its “way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.”
"When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice,” he said.
A new protocol?
In signature style, Trump’s inauguration remarks were a mystery until the moment he took the stage in Washington.
Presidents generally deliver excerpts of their texts to the press shortly before the presentation, but Trump did not follow that tradition.
Shortly before addressing the nation, Trump was sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Previously, Mike Pence was sworn in as the nation's 48th Vice President.
Trump arrived at the U.S. Capitol in the presidential limousine with outgoing President Barack Obama, with whom he shared a ceremonial tea at the White House.
The Clintons in the front row
Among those watching Trump's speech in the front row was his rival Hillary Clinton, former First Lady, who received heavy applause when she arrived on the podium with her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
The Clintons were next to former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura, and former President Jimmy Carter. Bush's father, George H.W, and his wife Barbara did not attend as they are being hospitalized in Houston, Texas.
On social media, many people commented that the crowds paled in comparison to those at Obama’s 2009 inauguration.
The climate in Washington Friday may reflect what’s to come for the next four years: beginning in the early morning, both supporters and opponents of the new government gathered across the Mall.
Demonstrations drew larger crowds than they have during previous inaugurations. In some parts of the city, protesters outnumbered supporters. Along Pennsylvania Avenue, hundreds stood with posters and messages rejecting Trump, who would later pass by on his way to the White House.
Police reported that some protestors, dressed in black masks, were arrested after allegedly smahing windows.
On Saturday, Washington is preparing for a massive Women’s March, expected to draw crowds of up to 300,000 people.