Trump Sweeps Into Washington Ahead of Swearing in as President
President-elect Donald Trump laid a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery as he continued his countdown to inauguration. He arrived in a military plane, without media on board, just after noon at Maryland's Joint Base Andrews.
Trump was joined in the wreath-ceremony by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, along with wife, Melania, and adult children and grandchildren.
Pence tweeted earlier in the day about the ceremony and the inauguration that is to follow.
Onlookers waved and took photos as the Trump motorcade pulled up to Trump's hotel, down the street from the White House, where he spoke to lawmakers and cabinet nominees at a luncheon.
My Cabinet Has the Highest Collective IQ Ever: Trump
Before the wreath-laying, however, Trump’s first stop was a luncheon in a ballroom at his own hotel, where he spoke about the GOP congressional leaders, declaring:
Trump also referred to his cabinet as one with the highest collective IQ ever.
At the luncheon, Trump also invited his future First Lady Melania Trump to speak.
Trump has asked 50 Obama staffers in critical posts to stay on until replacements can be found, including Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work and Brett McGurk, envoy to the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State.
The list includes Adam Szubin, who has long served in an "acting" capacity in the Treasury Department's top anti-terrorism job because his nomination has been held up by congressional Republicans since Obama named him to the job in April 2015.
“Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration”
Trump arrived for a celebratory welcome concert on the steps of Lincoln Memorial that concluded with fireworks.
Trump praised the two-hour concert in a tweet and said:
He soon also tweeted a video, thanking those who were part of it.
The concert was open to the public and featured country star Toby Keith, Soul's Sam Moore, actor Jon Voight and The Piano Guys. Also performing: Lee Greenwood, DJ RaviDrums, 3 Doors Down, and The Frontmen of Country, featuring Tim Rushlow, Larry Stewart and Richie McDonald.
It did not include singer Jennifer Holliday, originally announced as one of the headliners. She backed out after an outcry from Trump critics.
10 Key Promises Trump Made
Here are some highlights of the speech Trump made at the Lincoln Memorial.
- Introduce a constitutional amendment for Congressional term limits.
- Freeze hiring for the federal government to reduce payrolls; although the military, public safety and public health agencies would be exempt.
- Ban White House and Congressional officials from becoming lobbyists for five years after they leave the government.
- Announce plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico or withdraw from the deal.
- Formally withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
- Lift restrictions on mining coal and drilling for oil and natural gas.
- Remove any Obama-era roadblocks to energy projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline.
- Cancel US payments to UN climate change programs and redirect the money to US water and environmental infrastructure.
- Stop all federal funding to "sanctuary cities," places where local officials don't arrest or detain immigrants living in the country illegally for federal authorities.
- Suspend immigration from regions associated with terrorism where vetting is difficult.
Donald Trump is also planning to visit the CIA on Saturday, the day after he is sworn in as president. Trump had questioned the CIA's conclusion that Russia was involved in cyber hacking that interfered with the US election but has since accepted the verdict.
Meanwhile, Trump also appears to have announced that billionaire New York Jets owner Woody Johnson will become the next ambassador to Britain.
The appointment has not been formally announced, but Johnson is considered a favorite for the job. The billionaire businessman and philanthropist from the Johnson & Johnson family has known Trump for years.
Meanwhile, concerns about the absence of a Latino in the new Cabinet has also been dismissed by Trump’s spokesperson.
At a news conference Thursday, Sean Spicer defended the diversity of Trump's chosen Cabinet by pointing to nominees Elaine Chao, Ben Carson and Nikki Haley — three ethnically diverse Cabinet picks.
Ebullient Trump Fans Ready for a Three-Day Party
"We're hoping for good weather and hoping for some unity," said Jon-Paul Oldham, a firefighter who came from Thomaston, Connecticut. He said everyone should want Trump to succeed.
"Wanting him to fail is like wanting the plane to crash but you're on the plane," Oldham said.
Expected Protests at the Inauguration
Filmmaker and liberal activist Michael Moore will speak at an Inauguration Day protest in Washington.
Organisers say Moore will address activists at McPherson Square Friday afternoon in downtown Washington after President-elect Donald Trump is sworn into office. Permit applications show about 20,000 people are expected to attend the rally.
Moore was one of few prominent voices on the left to predict a Trump victory, saying his message resonated with working-class voters in Rust Belt states that Trump ultimately won. Moore supported Hillary Clinton after backing Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries.
Protest organizers have vowed to "disrupt" Trump's inauguration and risk arrest by interfering with security checkpoints.
(With inputs from Reuters and AP.)