WASHINGTON – Donald J. Trump has taken the oath of office on the steps of the US Capitol and become America’s 45th president and commander-in-chief.
Trump will take over a sharply divided nation and step onto a world stage rocked by his presence. His looming presidency has the Muslim world fearful and the State of Israel on tenterhooks, gripped by his incoming administration’s suggestion, as recently as Thursday, that it plans to speedily relocate America’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – a highly symbolic move that would elate many Israelis and enrage Palestinians.
Sean Spicer, Trump’s White House press secretary, told journalists gathered for the inauguration to “stay tuned” for details on the new president’s embassy plans.
“There will be a further announcement on that,” Spicer said. “The president-elect has been very clear that Israel has not gotten the attention or respect it deserves in the last eight years. He intends to really show his respect for Israel [and] the importance of it in the Middle East.”
Spicer said that Trump is consulting on the matter with his choice for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman; his Jewish son-in-law and choice for senior adviser, Jared Kushner; and his nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, on whether to proceed with the move, which outgoing President Barack Obama warned against in his final White House press conference on Wednesday.
“When sudden unilateral moves are made that speak to the core issues or sensitivities of either side, that can be explosive,” Obama said.
Spicer’s comments came one day after Trump told Israel Hayom
that he had not forgotten about his pre-election vow to move the embassy. “Of course I didn’t forget,” he said. “And you know I’m not a person who breaks promises.”
Trump aide Kellyanne Conway also told the paper that she thinks “we need to do it [move the embassy] tomorrow.”
The president-elect arrived in Washington on Thursday with his family, flying in from New York on a government aircraft for the first time. He began his inaugural celebration with a dinner earlier in the week with foreign diplomats, which was attended by Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer.
Local law enforcement expected the crowd for Trump’s inauguration to be a fraction of the size of Obama’s first inauguration in 2008, which brought an estimated 1.8 million people to the National Mall.
Polls show that Trump enters office with record low-approval ratings: CNN, Gallup, ABC News/Washington Post and Quinnipiac University put his pre-inauguration approval ratings between 37% and 44%. In comparison, Obama’s pre-election favorability rating was 84%, former president George W. Bush’s rating was 61%, and former president Bill Clinton’s rating was 67%.
A Pew Research Center poll found that 86% of Americans feel their nation is more divided today than it has been in recent memory. A similar poll taken in 2009, before Obama was sworn in, found that only 46% of Americans considered the nation divided.
Trump stayed overnight at Blair House, an official White House guest facility across Pennsylvania Avenue. He began Friday morning by taking tea at the White House with Obama and their wives, Melania and Michelle.Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts officiated the oath of office for Trump at 12:00 EST.
The oath reads as follows: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.