Vowing to “get the job done,” President Trump took office Friday outlining a drastically different agenda than that of his predecessor and installing key members of his national security team – as he began the work of turning his bold, and often brash, campaign promises into action.
He took the first steps Friday evening, signing an executive order directing agencies to ease the burdens of the Affordable Care Act. White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus also directed agencies to impose an “immediate regulatory freeze.”
“The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action,” Trump declared in his inaugural address earlier on the West Front of the Capitol, issuing a fiery condemnation of business as usual in Washington.
The president presided over the traditional inaugural fanfare, taking part in the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue before an evening of balls and other festivities. But on the sidelines, his team already was making its mark, part of what Trump called a “new vision.”
The official White House website swiftly switched as Trump took the oath of office, reflecting a new agenda for the new administration.
At the top of the “issues” section was Trump’s “America First Energy Plan,” which included a commitment to nix Obama-era policies to curb global warming and regulate U.S. waterways.
Team Trump deemed them “harmful and unnecessary policies” that hurt the economy. “Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years,” the website now states.
The site posted additional plans for the military, foreign policy, the economy and more. The jobs plan committed to “pro-growth tax reform” including a reduction in the corporate tax rate.
In terms of official actions, Trump’s first day consisted mostly of routine transfer-of-power measures. He signed nomination papers for his Cabinet picks – but also his first bill, legislation allowing retired Gen. James Mattis to serve as Defense secretary.
The Senate later confirmed Mattis to lead the Pentagon, as well as retired Gen. John Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Senate Democrats angered GOP colleagues by resisting efforts to consider more Cabinet nominees on the first day.
But bigger and more visceral battles were playing out on the streets of Washington Friday, as anti-Trump protesters swarmed parts of the District in demonstrations that turned violent at times. Amid dozens of arrests, protesters smashed the windows of businesses, forced the temporary shutdown of security checkpoints and clashed with police – who used pepper spray and tear gas to try to control the crowds.
But thousands of Trump supporters also came out, watching the 45th president’s inaugural address from the National Mall and later the parade, at times drowning out the protesters with cheers.
The address itself was heavy on populist themes, and stitched together by an appeal for a “new national pride,” as Trump described patriotism as a salve for the country’s divisions.
“When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice,” he said.
He also rebuked those who have held power in Washington, saying a small group reaped the rewards of government while “the people did not share” in Washington’s wealth.
In blunt and unvarnished terms similar to the language used during his nomination acceptance address last summer, Trump lamented the jobs lost to foreign rivals – he described “rusted out factories scattered like tombstones” across the land – and the crime in America’s cities.
“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” Trump said.
Trump cast his presidency as a return to power for the people and vowed never to let them down.
“From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first,” Trump said. “I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never, ever let you down. … We will bring back our jobs, we will bring back our borders, we will bring back our wealth and we will bring back our dreams.”
Telling the American people this is “your moment” and “your day,” Trump closed his speech with the promise that started it all: “We will make America great again.”
As Barack and Michelle Obama departed the White House after eight years in office, Trump will immediately be confronted with the challenge of governing, as he attempts to apply his CEO experience to running the nation. His team has vowed a “robust” start to the Trump administration, which could include everything from rescinding controversial Obama actions to renegotiating trade deals to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.