Hundreds of thousands of people have descended on Washington, D.C., either to support or to protest Donald Trump’s inauguration. Late Thursday night, police deployed pepper spray against activists protesting outside a pro-Trump ball called the “DeploraBall” at the National Press Club. Protesters held signs reading “No Alt Reich” and “No Nazi USA.” At least one person was arrested. Pro-Trump demonstrators have also arrived in Washington, including members of multiple biker gangs, including the group Bikers for Trump, whose members have vowed to serve as a “wall of meat” between protesters and Trump during the inauguration events. Up to 25,000 people also rallied against Donald Trump in New York City Thursday at a massive protest in front of Trump International Hotel and Tower, where filmmaker Michael Moore, actors Mark Ruffalo, Robert De Niro and Alec Baldwin all called for people to kick off “100 Days of Resistance.” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also spoke. This is protester Faiza Ali.
Faiza Ali: “We have to be ready to fight. We have to stand united. We must refuse to normalize bigotry and hate, which has been the incoming administration’s hallmark and rise to power. We must be ready to reject Trump’s fascist agenda and resist every appointment, every policy, every single proposal that institutionalizes Islamophobia or is a threat to our values.”
We’ll hear more voices from the New York City rally, including Michael Moore, after headlines. In California’s Bay Area, students and teachers participated in coordinated protests against Trump Thursday. Many more nationwide are preparing for protests today and tomorrow. In breaking news, people are currently locking down right now at a Black Lives Matter protest this morning here in Washington. Thousands are expected to participate in feminist, pro-black, pro-queer, pro-labor and anti-capitalist actions throughout the day. On Saturday, as many as 200,000 people are expected to participate in the Women’s March on Washington. This is Andrea Pritchett leading a Know Your Rights training in Berkeley, California, ahead of today’s protests.
Andrea Pritchett: “There’s a lot of stuff going on this weekend in San Francisco and Oakland. We want people to be prepared. You know, I’ve been doing Know Your Rights trainings for 27 years, and I’ve never seen a climate so hostile to our basic rights as described in the Bill of Rights. So it’s even more important now that we not only assert our rights, but remember what they are, remember what they’re supposed to be, you know, and not let them get whittled down and whittled away.”
Protests against Trump have also broken out worldwide, including in the Philippines, where activists burned an American flag. In Palestine, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Nablus, hundreds of protesters marched and voiced opposition to Trump’s pledge to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem—a pledge he reiterated Thursday in an interview with an Israeli newspaper owned by billionaire Republican donor Sheldon Adelson. In London, activists unfurled a banner this morning reading “Act Now! Build Bridges Not Walls.” Some international politicians are celebrating Donald Trump’s inauguration today, including far-right British politician Nigel Farage, who helped lead the push for Britain to leave the European Union. This is Farage.
Nigel Farage: “I really believe this. Through most of my life, what happens in America in terms of social trends or developments, we follow, four or five years later. America is the leader. Now, I would like to think, in my own little way, that what we did with Brexit was the beginning of what is going to turn out to be a global revolution, and that Trump’s victory is a part of that.”
Democracy Now! will be broadcasting throughout the day covering the inauguration live as well as bringing you reports from the ongoing protests and a roundtable discussion with scholars and activists from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. today ET, and from the stage of the Women’s March on Washington 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET Saturday.
President-elect Donald Trump arrived in Washington, D.C., Thursday on a military jet ahead of today’s inauguration. A new CBS poll shows less than a third of all Americans approve of the incoming president, with Trump’s favorability rating at only 32 percent. President Obama, in comparison, had an 84 percent approval rating just before his inauguration in 2009. On Thursday night, Donald Trump spoke in front of the Lincoln Memorial at the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration” in front of about 10,000 supporters. That’s about 40 times fewer people than the number who attended the 2009 inaugural concert when President Obama was taking office. In the lead-up to his inauguration, Trump ran into significant trouble booking talent. Last night’s concert headliners included 3 Doors Down, Toby Keith, Lee Greenwood and The Piano Guys. This is Trump.
President-elect Donald Trump: “We knew that something special was happening. And I can only tell you this: The polls started going up, up, up, but they didn’t want to give us credit, because they forgot about a lot of us. On the campaign, I called it the forgotten man and the forgotten woman. Well, you’re not forgotten anymore.”
Also on Thursday night, Trump spoke at a pre-inauguration donor dinner, where he called his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, whom Trump recently named to the position of counselor to the president, “baby” and “my Kellyanne.”
President-elect Donald Trump: “I see my Kellyanne. Oh, Kellyanne, come here. Come here. Come here, Kellyanne. Get up here. Come here, Kellyanne. She’s been so great. Wow! Wow. So, there is no den she will not go into. When my men are petrified to go on a certain network, I say, 'Kellyanne, would you do it?' 'Absolutely, no problem.' Then she gets on, and she just destroys them. So, anyway, thank you, baby. Thank you.”
Kellyanne Conway: “Thank you.”
President-elect Donald Trump: “Thank you. Be careful.”
Today’s inauguration comes as Trump and his transition team have failed to put in place hundreds of key government officials, threatening to leave the federal government precariously short-staffed. The New York Times reports that out of 660 executive department appointments, Trump has named only 29. Only two of Trump’s Cabinet nominees have been approved by Senate committees: retired General John Kelly for homeland security secretary and retired General James “Mad Dog” Mattis for defense secretary. They still have to be confirmed by the full Senate. On Thursday, Trump announced he’d keep on 50 officials from the Obama administration, including Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon, who will serve as the acting secretary of state, since Trump’s nominee, longtime ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, has so far not been approved.
On Thursday, seven military veterans were arrested inside Arizona Republican Senator John McCain’s office, demanding McCain reject Tillerson for secretary of state. This is Matt Howard of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
Matt Howard: “We know that this has been an industry and a person that has consistently utilized and essentially used the military to subsidize his own ability to make profit.”
The Hill is reporting Trump’s team is preparing to cut the budget by more than $10 trillion over 10 years. Among the agencies to face massive cuts are the Departments of Energy, Transportation, Justice, Commerce and State. The cuts include privatizing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and completely eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities.
U.S. officials say they have launched a far-reaching investigation against a handful of Donald Trump’s associates, including former campaign manager Paul Manafort, over their possible ties to Russia. As part of the probe, officials are reviewing the intercepted communications and financial transactions of Manafort, as well as former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page and Republican operative Roger Stone. U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia hacked the U.S. election in order to help Donald Trump win.
Trump’s treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin underwent his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday. Mnuchin is a former Goldman Sachs executive who has faced widespread criticism about his bank, OneWest, which has been called a “foreclosure machine.” During Thursday’s hearing, multiple senators expressed outrage about Mnuchin’s role in the Great Recession and the U.S. housing crisis. This is Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden.
Sen. Ron Wyden: “Mr. Mnuchin’s career began in trading financial products that helped to bring on the housing crash in the Great Recession. After nearly two decades at Goldman Sachs, he left in 2002 and joined a hedge fund. In early 2009, Mr. Mnuchin led a group of investors that purchased a bank called IndyMac, and he renamed it OneWest. Colleagues, OneWest was truly unique. While Mr. Mnuchin was CEO, the bank proved it could put more vulnerable people on the street faster than just about anybody else around.”
That was Senator Wyden. Later in the hearing, Republican Senator Pat Roberts joked by offering Senator Wyden a valium pill before the next round of questioning.
Sen. Pat Roberts: “Senator Wyden, I’ve got a valium pill here that you might want to take before the second round. Just a suggestion, sir.”
During the hearing, Mnuchin came under criticism for not initially disclosing about $100 million in assets. Fortune magazine recently reviewed financial disclosures by Mnuchin and reported that he’s as much as 10 times richer than previously thought, worth as much as $400 million.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry also underwent his confirmation hearing to be Energy Department head Thursday. At the start of the hearing, Washington Senator Maria Cantwell reminded Perry that he had once called for the elimination of the very agency he was now tapped to head.
Sen. Maria Cantwell: “Congratulations on your nomination. In case you may have forgotten, you once called for the abolishment of this agency. I suspect that now, having had a chance to learn about the importance of this department, you have a very different opinion.”
That was Senator Maria Cantwell. Later in the hearing, former Governor Perry said he now regrets calling for the agency to be eliminated.
Rick Perry: “My past statements, made over five years ago, about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking. In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.”
President Obama granted another 330 commutations Thursday as his final major act as president. The majority of the sentences commuted Thursday were for nonviolent drug offenses. Throughout his presidency, Obama has granted 1,715 commutations—more than any other president in U.S. history.
Also on Thursday, the Pentagon transferred four prisoners from Guantánamo Bay to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. These final four transfers under Obama’s presidency leave 41 people still imprisoned at the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. President Obama had vowed to close Guantánamo within his first year in office—eight years ago.
In international news, West African leaders have given longtime Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh until midday today to relinquish power, as troops from Senegal and other nearby countries have crossed into Gambia and are awaiting to see if Jammeh will step down. The presidents of Liberia, Mauritania and Guinea are also arriving in Gambia today in efforts to broker a transfer of power. Jammeh has ruled Gambia for 22 years. On Thursday, incoming President Adama Barrow held his inauguration at the Gambian Embassy in neighboring Senegal.
Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán has been extradited to the United States and is slated to appear in a U.S. federal court in New York City today. His attorneys had fought his extradition in part by citing discrimination against Mexicans, including the words of President-elect Donald Trump. He previously escaped from jail in Mexico twice.
In Honduras, television reporter Igor Abisaí Padilla Chávez has been assassinated. Padilla covered crime for the television station HCH, Hable Como Habla. Honduran police have arrested 18 suspects they allege were involved in the killing.
And investigative reporter Wayne Barrett has died at age 71 of complications of interstitial lung disease in Manhattan. News of Barrett’s death broke as thousands protested in Central Park against the inauguration of Donald Trump, a man he began covering in the 1970s. His 1991 unauthorized biography of Donald Trump was republished last year in paperback with the title of “Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Deals, the Downfall, the Reinvention.” Barrett continued to cover Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign even though he was largely homebound due to lung cancer. This is Wayne Barrett speaking on Democracy Now! when we interviewed him at his home last year.
Wayne Barrett: “Well, he’s not—it’s more than that he’s something unlike anything—I mean, you know, I’m a Democrat. I’m a liberal Democrat. I have voted in my life for candidates on the Republican line—not often, but sometimes. But I think that this is a man who is—he’s really not qualified to run the Trump Organization. He’s not fit to run the Trump Organization. So he’s certainly not fit to run America. I think he represents not just a danger to America, but because we are such an influence in the world, it’s really a shocking threat to the world. And so, you know, I’m in a sickbed a lot, but he gets me up out of it.”
That was investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. He died on Thursday in Manhattan—only one day before the inauguration of Donald Trump, a man he’d reported on since the 1970s. Click here to see our full hour-long interview with Wayne Barrett in his house just a few months ago.