Inauguration Briefing: Trump Arrives in Washington for Inaugural Festivities, Praises I.Q. of Cabinet
The president-elect and vice president-elect laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.
Then it was on to the Lincoln Memorial for the concert that opens the Inaugural festivities.
Bikers for Trump are ready to roll
Eric Huppert, the leader of Defenders of Liberty Motorcycle Club and local organizer of Bikers for Trump, stood beside a row of hulking V-twin Harley Davidsons and said he was not looking for violence.
Sure, Chris Cox, the founder of Bikers for Trump, had pledged that his members would act as a “wall of meat” to block anti-Trump protesters, but Mr. Huppert downplayed all that.
“I don’t anticipate any skirmishes — at least I hope not,” he said. But if the safety of Mr. Trump’s supporters — or even the president-elect himself — is jeopardized, he added, “I think these folks will be willing to jump in if necessary.”
A security force beholden to no one with no rules of engagement and no real marching orders is, well, not a great idea. But Bikers for Trump stand by their man.
David Nichols traveled from Texarkana, Texas, with seven others to attend the Bikers for Trump rally on Inauguration Day. The group drove for 22 hours straight, towing eight bikes on a 20-foot trailer.
“He’ll be a fine president — he just has to calm down his words,” Mr. Nichols said. “Just don’t bash people’s name too much.”
Trump says he is serious about a Jerusalem embassy
Mr. Trump assured Israelis in comments posted online on Thursday that he planned to follow through on his campaign promise to move the American embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv soon after taking office.
“Of course I remember what I told you about Jerusalem,” Mr. Trump told Boaz Bismuth of the newspaper Israel Hayom when he encountered him at a preinaugural event on Wednesday. “Of course I didn’t forget. And you know I’m not a person who breaks promises.”
Israel Hayom is owned by Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate and Republican donor who is a powerful supporter of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. Mr. Trump has nominated David M. Friedman, a New York bankruptcy lawyer and strong advocate of moving the embassy, as his next ambassador to Israel.
Mr. Trump’s spokesman, Sean Spicer, suggested at a briefing on Thursday that the incoming president would make the embassy move one of his first acts after taking office on Friday. “There will be a further announcement on that,” he said. “The president has made clear that Israel has not gotten the respect it deserves.”
But implementation of such an announcement could still take months, given that the United States consulate facilities currently in Jerusalem are not considered adequate for an embassy. President Obama and other veterans of Middle East politics have warned against such a move because it would prejudge final status negotiations with the Palestinians and potentially provoke a violent backlash.
A lot of Obama officials will greet Trump
Without a single cabinet or subcabinet official confirmed yet by the Senate, President-elect Trump has asked 50 officials from President Obama’s expiring administration to stay on temporarily after Friday’s inauguration to ensure the smooth operation of government, Mr. Trump’s transition team announced on Thursday.
Among those requested to stick around are senior figures in the battle against terrorism and other security officials. Mr. Obama similarly kept around officials in such positions when he took over from President George W. Bush eight years ago, including some of those now being asked to remain in place by Mr. Trump.
“Make no mistake, we’re ready to go on day one,” Mr. Spicer told a briefing shortly before Mr. Trump was scheduled to depart New York for Washington. But the new president, he added, wanted to make sure that the United States was ready to handle any unforeseen events. “Right now our focus was on continuity of government.”
Among those asked to stay were Brett McGurk, the special envoy overseeing the war against the Islamic State; Nick Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center; Adam J. Szubin, the acting under secretary of Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence; Robert O. Work, the deputy defense secretary; and Thomas A. Shannon Jr., the under secretary of state for political affairs.
With his selection of an agriculture secretary, Mr. Trump has now named nominees for all 21 cabinet and cabinet-rank jobs, but it remained unclear how many would be confirmed by the Senate by Monday, the first full work day of the new administration. A few sub-cabinet jobs have been filled.
The incoming administration also has tapped 536 members of what it calls a “beachhead team” to show up at agencies across the government on Monday morning to serve as a first wave of appointees to begin operations while confirmations proceed.
An ethicist rises in stature
The federal government’s top ethics monitor has played a surprisingly prominent role in the transition, and that is likely to continue into the new administration.
Next week, Walter M. Shaub Jr., the director of the Office of Government Ethics, is scheduled to make an appearance on Capitol Hill to meet with Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who accused Mr. Shaub of dabbling in politics by publicly criticizing Mr. Trump’s ethics plan.
Mr. Chaffetz has backed down from demanding a transcribed interview and lobbing a subpoena threat at Mr. Shaub, agreeing instead to a private meeting on Jan. 23 that includes Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the committee.
Mr. Cummings, in a letter to Mr. Chaffetz on Thursday, called his ratcheting down “a positive step in the right direction,” but said that if Mr. Chaffetz will not open the meeting to the public, he should at least include other members of the committee “to hear firsthand what Mr. Shaub has to say.”
A spokeswoman for Mr. Chaffetz did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The president-elect’s choice to vouch for his unifying message: Franklin Graham
A day before Mr. Trump is to be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, he took to Twitter to assert that he is not responsible for the nation’s divisions. His champion? The Rev. Franklin Graham.
To some, Mr. Graham’s good wishes may not hold much weight. Last month on Facebook, he decried House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s failure to join him and the president-elect in ending all Muslim immigration “until we can properly vet them or until the war with Islam is over.”
He castigated Representative William Lacy Clay, Democrat of Missouri, for defending a high school student’s artwork depicting a confrontation between citizens and police, depicted as pigs.
And last year, Mr. Graham said of gays, “you cannot stay gay and continue to call yourself a Christian.”
The Bushes are recovering from their scare
Former President George Bush and his wife Barbara Bush were both reported to be recovering at a Houston hospital on Thursday after being afflicted by separate illnesses.
Mr. Bush, the 41st president who was suffering from pneumonia when he was brought to Houston Methodist Hospital, remained on a breathing tube following a procedure meant to clear his airway. His spokesman, Jim McGrath, said he had “a good night’s rest” and doctors were evaluating when to remove the tube.
“We are hopeful he will be discharged from the I.C.U. in a few days,” Mr. McGrath said in a statement.
Mrs. Bush, who was diagnosed with bronchitis, reported that she felt “one thousand percent better,” Mr. McGrath said. “Antibiotics and some good rest seem to have restored her to better health,” he said.
Chelsea Manning: Thanks, Obama
The anger or disappointment at President Obama’s decision to commute Ms. Manning’s sentence after seven years in military prison has been bipartisan. Ms. Manning, then known as Pfc. Bradley Manning, leaked thousands of military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks, becoming a hero to some on the left but a villain to many, especially in the military.
Ms. Manning did appreciate it, though.
New president will visit C.I.A. headquarters
Mr. Trump plans to appear at the swearing-in ceremony for Mike Pompeo, his choice for director of the C.I.A., after an interfaith prayer service on his first full day in office, a person briefed on the plans said.
Mr. Trump’s visit to C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, Va., will be one of his earliest official acts as president and could be seen as a gesture to an agency whose work he has criticized repeatedly since his victory in November.
The visit would come much earlier in his administration than in those of his three immediate predecessors. President Bill Clinton, who defended the agency amid proposed cuts, first went to Langley a year after taking office; President Obama visited in April 2009, a few months after his inauguration; and President George W. Bush went even sooner, in March 2001.
The visit is an opportunity for Mr. Trump to display the seriousness of the job.
Dining at the Trump
His days outside the White House waning, the president-elect dashed from New York to Washington on Wednesday night for a bit of a folderol:a stop at the National Portrait Gallery to honor his vice president-elect, Mike Pence, then a cabinet secretaries’ dinner at the Library of Congress.
Mr. Trump did take the time to snap a photograph with a celebrity on hand to celebrate with Mr. Pence: the country singer Lee Greenwood of “God Bless the U.S.A.” fame.
With A-list celebrities hard to come by for the inaugural festivities, country music has proved to be something of a lifeline.
On such nights, presidents (and presidents-elect) often make unscheduled stops — sometimes at a soup kitchen, sometimes at a diner or burger joint — to fraternize with ordinary folks. Mr. Trump also made an unexpected stop at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, where he had dinner.
One assumes that for the small pool of journalists tagging along, the hotel made an exception to the no-reporter rule handed down by management for the inaugural festivities.
Party at Pence’s house
Of course the real fun in Washington on Wednesday night was on Mr. Pence’s street, where gay rights activists gathered to dance and twerk — a protest of sorts of the incoming vice president’s views of homosexuals. From the Portrait Gallery to this:
Continue reading the main story