President Trump vows to end American ‘carnage’

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Supreme Court Justice John Roberts (R) administers the oath of office to U.S. President Donald Trump (L) as his wife Melania Trump holds the Bible and his son Barron Trump looks on, on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Credit: Chip Somodevilla

Credit: Chip Somodevilla

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Supreme Court Justice John Roberts (R) administers the oath of office to U.S. President Donald Trump (L) as his wife Melania Trump holds the Bible and his son Barron Trump looks on, on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Donald Trump was sworn in as the nation’s 45th president on Friday with a pledge to bring an “America first” philosophy and upend a Washington establishment he said has too long exploited and forsaken its citizens.

Capping a remarkable ascent from businessman and larger-than-life reality star to president, Trump vowed in his 16-minute inaugural address to forge a sense of unity in a nation still bitterly divided over his election, eradicate Islamic terror groups that threaten its safety and champion faltering industries with protectionist economic policies.

“The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer,” he said to hundreds of thousands arrayed on the National Mall from a balcony on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. “Everyone is listening to you now.”

As light rain began to fall and roving groups of protesters demonstrated across the city, Trump delivered a speech that mirrored the populist themes that helped him emerge from a crowded Republican primary field and score an upset victory against a Democratic opponent with tremendous financial and organizational advantages.

“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” Trump said. “We are one nation — and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams, and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home and one glorious destiny.”

The 70-year-old Republican made no reference during the inaugural address to his vanquished opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, who was in the audience beside her husband, former President Bill Clinton. Instead, he said that both Democrats and Republicans had let down average Americans by becoming too comfortable with the trappings of power.

And he put the world on notice that he was open, even eager, to replace the post-World War II order centered on strong alliances with Western nations with a new nationalist ideology.

“From this moment on, it’s going to be America first,” he said, repeating a slogan that was a surefire applause line on the campaign trail. “Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.”

Violent protests

His detractors, Democrats and Republicans alike, have pledged to resist a new president they say inspired fear and divisiveness. Protests broke out throughout Washington, and police clad in riot helmets resorted to pepper spray to disperse groups of demonstrators smashing windows.

Left-leaning groups have organized a rally on Saturday that could draw as many as 200,000 people to downtown Washington. Georgia U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who has become a symbol of Democratic opposition to Trump, is headlining a smaller march Saturday in Atlanta.

The Lewis-Trump feud appeared to inspire a section of the new president’s speech, when he said that “we will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action, constantly complaining, but never doing anything about it.”

Last week Trump sent out a tweet attacking the civil rights icon as “all talk” after he had questioned the legitimacy of the election, citing evidence that the Russians had interfered in the campaign.

Unfazed by Friday’s protests, which were widely expected by Trump’s transition team, the president intended to get off to a fast start.

Within 90 minutes of taking office, he cleared the way for retired U.S. Gen. James Mattis to serve as his secretary of defense and called for a national day of patriotism. Hours later, the Senate installed Mattis and retired U.S. Gen. John Kelly as secretary of homeland security.

The Trump administration also made one of its first policy moves on Friday, quickly suspending a fee cut for federally backed mortgages that Barack Obama had recently OK’d to aid lower-income and first-time borrowers. Trump’s team had previously criticized the outgoing president for adopting new policies at the eleventh hour.

On Friday evening, Trump signed executive orders freezing new federal regulations and directing federal agencies, “to ease the burden of Obamacare,” according to White House press secretary Sean Spicer. No details were available as of press time.

Trump is expected to sign other sweeping orders in his first week that could begin unraveling some of Obama’s signature achievements as president.

He is likely to nullify two immigration programs created by Obama shielding from deportation thousands of young people and their nonviolent parents who lack legal status to live in the U.S. He’s pledged to quickly impose a ban on members of his administration becoming lobbyists for five years. And he may restrict some international groups from using U.S. foreign aid to provide or promote abortions.

Droves of Georgians trekked to Washington for the festivities, either to celebrate Trump’s inauguration or oppose his presidency. Sharyl Dawes of Johns Creek had one of the best seats at the U.S. Capitol, just a few rows from the spot where Trump was sworn in.

“I came here 16 years ago for the Bush inauguration. But it feels more awesome now. The crowd, the enthusiasm — it’s amazing,” she said. “I couldn’t believe the warmth and the welcome we have experienced. I will tell people who don’t like him: Give him a chance.”

Elsewhere in the closely guarded city — nearly 30,000 officers were scattered across Washington — demonstrators and police locked in sometimes violent clashes. But most of the protests were peaceful shows of dissent. Tony Rooney of metro Atlanta said he came to the National Mall armed with an anti-Trump sign because he is “horrified and disgusted America has been reduced to a fascist state.”

The Trump era

Trump’s inauguration heralds a new era of unified Republican control in Washington for the first time in a decade. And Republicans are eager to press their advantages to pass sweeping changes to tax rules, crack down on illegal immigration and craft their own health care policy.

Fractured Democrats, beset by stinging losses at both the federal and state levels, are struggling to find a way to counter his appeal. Some are open to working with Trump to accomplish longtime legislative goals such as a federal infrastructure package. Others appear hellbent on preventing Trump from accomplishing anything on his wish list, just as they say Senate Republicans did to Obama during his first term.

In Georgia, Democratic leaders are torn between an appeal to their most likely supporters or broadening their message to centrist Republicans who are skeptical of Trump. Party leaders on Friday unveiled a “Georgia Resists” website intended to set the tone for the next four years.

Many Republicans, too, are uncertain — or unsettled — by a Trump presidency. With his bruising critiques of the Washington elite and “drain the swamp” rallying cry, Trump has already been willing and eager to defy his own party’s leadership.

How Trump and Republicans on Capitol Hill navigate their seemingly disparate views on issues such as federal spending on entitlement programs and negotiating lower prescription drug prices remains to be seen.

While Trump was a political neophyte when he announced his White House run in 2015, he has proved adept at using his Twitter account to whip up grass-roots support and bring Republicans in line with his views. He did just that earlier this month after the House GOP voted in secret to defang a congressional ethics watchdog.

Trump ascends to Washington’s highest office even as he continues to face questions about his November victory. He’s vehemently fought the U.S. intelligence community and the media on their assessments of Russia’s role in the election, and it’s possible those attacks will continue.

Questions also remain regarding where exactly Trump stands when it comes to many of the policy details that are important to Georgia and and other states but weren’t top-tier issues for him on the campaign trail, including the minimum wage and public housing.

One thing that’s for certain: Trump is open to sweeping change. In his inaugural address, Trump cast his swearing-in as a reboot of sorts for the nation, one that will bring forceful change to an ossified federal government.

"The time for empty talk is over," he said. "Now arrives the hour for action. Do not allow anyone to tell you it cannot be done."