Inauguration Report: The Making of American History As It Happened
As early as 6:15 AM – The White House press pool has gathered at the corner of 17th and Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. to report on one of the biggest days in American history: the Inauguration of the American President, the event that occurs every eight years that the entire world gathers to watch.
The prospect of the rain has been the main concern for the transition team, but Donald J. Trump said that he did not mind the weather forecasts, come rain or shine, he will be standing on the Capitol Hill for a swearing-in ceremony. His speech, which he has been working on for weeks and for which (for a large part) he has been his own editor, has been kept under utmost secrecy, although the incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said at the briefing in Washington D.C. on Thursday that it has been inspired by former presidents Ronald Reagan and Kennedy.
Around the White House, everything is set for the parade. The press pool is entering the White House from various locations throughout the day to cover in detail the end of the transition of President-elect Donald J. Trump, and the beginning of the new chapter of the American politics.
Yesterday, I was attending the second briefing in D.C. of the incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, where Mike Pence, the soon to be Vice President also showed up, together with the members of cabinet Ben Carson, Jeff Sessions, and Rudy Giuliani. Pence was visibly in a heightened and festive mood as the Inauguration Day approached and he came across motivated to step into the new role.
9:00 AM, the incoming President Trump has arrived at St. John’s Church across from the White House. Somewhere at the same time, the outgoing Vice President Joe Biden stepped into the White House.
9:14 AM: Obama emerged from the Oval Office for an unscheduled pool spray. Walked past the press pool, he asked “How’s it going?”. He said he was feeling nostalgic. Sending the last words to the American people, he simply shared just two words: “Thank you”.
Through the window, Obama was seen leaving some papers on the Oval Office desk before he came out. He was followed down to the colonnade toward the White House by Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill, as well as other aides.
9:29 AM: Obama left the Oval office for the last time as The President. It has been suggested that he left behind his letter to the incoming President Trump.
9:38 AM Vice President Biden and his wife Jill in a pink dress are waiting to greet Vice President-elect Mike Pence and his spouse Karen, both wearing elegant, dark coats. “Welcome,” Biden says.
The men are exchanging handshakes while wives opt for hugs. As the Trump limo approaches, Michelle and Barack Obama are stepping out to greet them.
As Trump emerges from the car in dark suit and red tie, Obama waves at him saying “how are you?”
Melania in a Jackie Kennedy style outfit looks elegant. She is holding a large blue box which assumably is intended as a gift for the First Lady Michelle. After a brief exchange of cordialities, they are stepping into the White House Residence.
Inside, the President and the First Lady are presented with two flags that have been flown over the White House. One flown on the first day of the Presidency and one flown the morning of the last day one.
After posing for the photographers, both families are back inside for the traditional coffee and tea reception with the following guests in attendance: Senator Roy Blunt and his spouse, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his spouse Elaine Chao, Senate Democrat Leader Charles E. Schumer, Raul Ryan, Speaker of the House and his spouse, House Majority Leader Kevin McCharthy and his spouse, and Nancy Pelosi with her spouse.
10:52 AM The motorcade of the President-elect Trump is on its way to the Capitol Hill.
11:05 AM Motorcade pulls into Capitol for the swearing-in ceremony. At this moment, the Inaugural program is twenty minutes behind the schedule. At the same time, we are getting reports that the protestors on 13th street have demolished Starbucks and Bank of America and that the police moved in to attend to protesters. On Capitol Hill, everything is calm and ready for the Inauguration of the 45th president of America. Pale in her face, Hillary Clinton is also in attendance in an openly not-so-good mood. She came to stand next to her husband former President Bill Clinton who is one of only six remaining live Presidents of America.
Pale in her face, Hillary Clinton is also in attendance in an openly not-so-good mood. She came to stand next to her husband former President Bill Clinton who is one of only six remaining live Presidents of America.
During the swearing-in ceremony, Donald J. Trump will be having two bibles today: his own and the one of President Lincoln.
Soon to be President is visibly emotional as he steps to the podium. He looks serious while Melania is closely watching him, supporting him in her thoughts as he places his hands on the bible to state the oath.
How will the Inaugural speech sound like, everyone wonders and the President of the United States is starting with his first message: “We’ll face challenges, we will confront hardships, but we will get the job done”. The rain starts to fall on the Capitol Hill and the First Lady pulls out a clear colored umbrella, while the President’s words echo over the American nation: “The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.”
12:35 PM Moments after Bush 43 exited from a side entrance with former First Lady Laura Bush, President Trump and former president Obama appear at the top of the East Capitol steps lined up with military guards.
Accompanying the 44th and 45th presidents are Vice President Pence and former Vice President Biden, along with their wives. All four are walking the first landing, from where the Pences accompanied the Bidens to their limo.
President Trump and the First Lady are walking the Obamas to the helicopter formerly known as Marine One for takeoff. Trump and Obama shake hands to the sound of revving engines. President Trump kisses Michelle on both cheeks. The women also are exchanging hugs. Michelle gets on the Marine One first, followed by Barack Obama.
Trump and Melania go back inside the Capitol for lunch.
3: 45 PM It’s 47 degrees and cloudy, but a break in the drizzle. About an hour behind schedule, down Constitution Avenue toward Pennsylvania Avenue, the press pool is riding a flatbed truck ahead of the presidential parade. Crowds have lined up on both sides of the parade route, about 4-5 rows-deep a side. President Donald J. Trump is in the second limo driving by cheering crowds.
7:10 PM White House Press Secretary Spicer confirms that the president will sign an executive order on Obamacare. “Three is an executive order on Obamacare that directs the departments and the agencies to ease the burden of Obamacare as we transition to repeal and replace,” explains Sean Spicer.
?In the Oval Office, still in the suit and tie he was wearing for the swearing-in ceremony, President Trump is sitting at his desk. President Mike Pence is standing to his right. Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is handing him documents to sign Senate confirmations, and then the order for an immediate regulatory freeze.
Following the Senate confirmation of Mattis and Kelly, at the ceremonial room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB), Vice President Mike Pence swore in Gen. Mattis as Defense Secretary and Kelly as Homeland Security Secretary. Mattis took the oath first. Kelly next. Both signed the papers. Applause.
? ?9:00 PM Press pool and Secret Service Agents, all in formal attire, are waiting in vans for departure for inaugural balls. The motorcade is composed of at least 30 vehicles, forming two columns of SUVs and other vehicles. The sound of helicopters can be overhead.
? ?9:08 PM The motorcade is on its way to Walter E. Washington Convention Center for the Liberty Ball, and the Freedom Ball. The third ball, the Armed Services Ball will take place at the National Building Museum. While the two first balls were open to the public, the third one is By Invitation Only for the armed service community members.
?The Joint Task Force – National Capital Region in conjunction with the Presidential Inaugural Committee will host a live talkback with the Commander in Chief Donald J. Trump and deployed military service members serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.
?At the ball, The First Lady Melania and President Trump are set to open the first dance. On behalf of the Navy, Petty Officer Second Class Catherine Cartmell will dance with President Trump. On behalf of the Army, Staff Sergeant Jose A. Medina will dance with First Lady Melania Trump. On behalf of the United States Air Force, Master Sergeant Tiffany Bradbury to dance with Vice-President Pence. On behalf of the United States Marine Corps, Sergeant Angel Rodriguez will dance with Second Lady Karen Pence.
?9:15 PM Motorcade is approaching the lower level of the convention center complex. In the first ballroom which is hosting The Liberty Ball, thousands of well-dressed guests. There is a dessert table with cupcakes with red icing. The sign indicating the drinks menu shows very moderate prices: $20 for champagne, $15 for cocktails, $10 for beer and wine and $5 for soft drinks.
?10:05 PM The Freedom Ball. Melania and Donald J. Trump step on the podium for the first dance. Lots of hooting and cheering. Trump is very good at reading the crowd as this one is feisty.
?”We will not be taken advantage of anymore,” Trump sends a blunt message and with that, the Trumps began their next dance to the Sinatra’s legendary tune “My Way.”
?10:35 PM The National Building Museum. Guests in military dress uniforms. The Marine Band is playing on the balcony. The First family seems to be waiting for the 11 o’clock news to arrive.
?10:59 PM the First Family come on stage welcomed by patriotic cheers.
?”What a day it’s been,” the president says.
?The military, he said, are “amazing.”
? ?“I like the fact that you all voted for me,” he declares, setting off cheers.
? ?“I just met your Joint Chiefs of Staff, and they are incredible. They know what to do… We’re going to see what happens but we have a great country and we want to do what’s appropriate… Lots of bad things are happening but I think you’re going to see improvement.”
? With about a six-second delay, a satellite talkback with U.S. troops in Afghanistan is taking place.
? ?“How’s it going?” President Trump asks, encouraging deployed soldiers to start talking. “Don’t be like these people. Don’t be too tough on me,” Trump says, pointing to journalists just below him in the buffer.
? ?“The courage that you show is incredible. And it’s going to be appreciated. It’s appreciated now but it’s going to be appreciated more than ever before. You’ll see,” President Trump says.
? ?Stepping on the enormous stage with a presidential seal, Melania and Donald J Trump dance to a romantic version of “I Will Always Love You.” The Pences soon joined, as well as the serviceman and woman.
?11:32 PM President Trump’s motorcade is departing from the National Building Museum.
?11: 39 PM Press vans are back at the White House. No sighting of the first family.
?11:55 PM Another historic day like this, we will be able to witness in the next Presidential election. Until then, we still have the first 100 days of President Trump to watchdog and assess.