It’s Inauguration Day.
It’s happening: By noon Eastern time on Friday, Donald Trump will be president. He arrived in Washington with flair Thursday, speaking to tens of thousands of people at a concert at the Lincoln Memorial and praising his incoming Cabinet during a stop at his downtown hotel.
Through it all, Trump remained Trump, abandoning none of his old habits, with less than 24 hours before the inauguration. The president-elect live-tweeted his arrival. He criticized people who underestimated him during the election. And, with characteristic grandiosity, he set the stage for his incoming administration.
“We have by the far the highest IQ of any Cabinet ever assembled,” he said in remarks at the Trump International Hotel.
The inauguration is set to start with opening remarks at 11:30 a.m. Nearly 70 Democratic lawmakers have said they won’t attend. After Trump is sworn in and has lunch at the Capitol, the inaugural parade will be held along Pennsylvania Avenue NW. There are three official inaugural balls Friday night.
It’s unclear whether the real work of governing will begin Friday or Monday, Trump’s first full workday in the White House. He’s made a lot of promises about what he’ll do on Day One as president: Begin building a wall on the Mexican border, end the “war on coal,” label China a currency manipulator. Sean Spicer, his incoming press secretary, said to expect a few logistical executive actions Friday and more Monday.
Two or three of Trump’s nominees may be confirmed by the Senate on Friday: Democrats say they’ll vote on defense secretary pick Gen. James Mattis and homeland security secretary nominee Gen. John F. Kelly. They may also vote on Rep. Mike Pompeo’s nomination for CIA director.
PREPARING FOR PROTESTS
Of course, Trump supporters aren’t the only people coming to Washington this weekend: Tens of thousands of people are expect to stage protests in the city to voice opposition to Trump and his agenda. Law enforcement officials anticipate that more than 60 groups will demonstrate for or against Trump, including the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition, DisruptJ20 and Bikers for Trump.
DisruptJ20, for example, is planning “a series of massive direct actions that will shut down the Inauguration ceremonies and any related celebrations — the Inaugural parade, the Inaugural balls, you name it,” according to its website. Another group, DCMJ, which supports marijuana legalization in the District, plans to hand out 4,200 joints before marching to the Mall, our colleague wrote.
CAN TRUMP HEAL THE COUNTRY’S DIVISIONS?
This is the question that dominates conversation in the nation’s capital. After an election that was fought, as our colleague wrote, “over elemental questions of character, honesty, temperament and national identity” — an election in which Russia interfered and Trump lost the popular vote — powerful divisions remain. Most presidents make national healing and renewal an early theme of their administrations. It’s still unclear whether Trump, who won in part by stoking conflict, will choose to follow suit.
THE SCENE AT TRUMP’S HOTEL
It’s not just a symbol of Trump’s potential conflicts of interest: The Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue NW has become a round-the-clock hub for visitors, inauguration guests and Trump aides celebrating the new administration. Rates were up five times higher than normal this week, and rooms required a minimum stay of five nights. “Nobody wants to go to bed,” a Dallas investor told The Washington Post.
MNUCHIN, PERRY TESTIFY IN SENATE HEARINGS
Treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin and energy secretary nominee Rick Perry faced questions in the Senate on Thursday, rounding out a packed week of confirmation hearings for members of Trump’s new Cabinet.
Mnuchin, facing combative questions from Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee, defended his ties to offshore business entities and his management of a California bank criticized for its foreclosure practices.
Perry, the former Texas governor, had a somewhat easier time before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, where he acknowledged “some” human contribution to climate change and apologized for previously vowing to abolish the department he is nominated to lead.