WASHINGTON—Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States Friday, taking the helm of a deeply divided nation and putting Republicans in control of the White House for the first time in eight years.
The billionaire businessman and former reality television star has pledged an era of profound change, energizing his supporters with promises to wipe away predecessor Barack Obama’s signature achievements and to restore America to a position of strength.
Trump’s inauguration drew crowds to the nation’s capital to witness the history. More than 60 House Democrats refused to attend his swearing in ceremony in the shadow of the Capitol dome. One Democrat who did sit among the dignitaries was Hillary Clinton, Trump’s vanquished campaign rival who was widely expected by analysts and the media to be the one taking the oath of office.
Instead, it was Trump placing his hand on two Bibles—one used by his family and another used for President Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration. At 70, Trump is the oldest person to be sworn in as president, marking a generational step backward after two terms for Obama, one of the youngest presidents to serve as commander in chief.
Trump takes charge of an economy that has slowly recovered from the Great Recession, leaving millions of Americans feeling left behind. The nation’s longest war is still being waged in Afghanistan and U.S. troops are battling the ISIS terrorist group in Iraq and Syria. Trump has vowed to dismantle and rebuild the current healthcare system that many have seen as failed.
Trump faces such challenges as the first president to take office without ever having held a political position or served in the military. He has stacked his Cabinet with established Washington figures and highly successful business leaders.
All of the living American presidents attended the swearing-in ceremony, except for 92-year-old George H.W. Bush, who was hospitalized this week with pneumonia. His wife, Barbara, was also admitted to the hospital after falling ill.
While Trump came to power bucking convention, he wrapped himself in the traditions that accompany the peaceful transfer of power. Following a morning church service with his family, Trump and his wife, Melania, had tea at the White House with Obama and outgoing first lady Michelle Obama.
The two couples greeted each other with handshakes and hugs, and Mrs. Trump presented Mrs. Obama with a gift. Following their private gathering in the executive mansion, the Trumps and Obamas traveled together to the Capitol for the swearing in ceremony.