The decorated war hero had run as an outsider, fighting against “the aristocracy of the few” on behalf of the little guy. The rollicking party that trashed the executive mansion horrified already-aghast eastern elites.
Donald Trump’s team actually considered opening the White House up for a public party that would pay homage to the fabled Jackson slosh-fest. “Unfortunately, security concerns are different than they were in 1829,” Tom Barrack, a longtime Trump friend and business partner who is chairing the inaugural committee, said at an event last month.
That this was even considered reflects the degree to which Trump has come to identify with the seventh president.
During a pre-inaugural dinner speech, the president-elect likened his “movement” to the one that elected Jackson. “There hasn’t been anything like this since Andrew Jackson,” Trump told 500 donors on Wednesday night. “Andrew Jackson! What year was Andrew Jackson? That was a long time ago!”
Jackson, who served two terms, is considered the father of the Democratic Party. After winning a plurality of the popular vote and the most electoral votes in a four-way race, he felt robbed of the presidency in 1824 by what he considered a “corrupt bargain” between John Quincy Adams and Speaker Henry Clay. He avenged his loss with a campaign four years later that was animated by grievance and which made the nastiness of 2016 look like child’s play.
-- People in Trump’s orbit say Trump’s newfound fascination with Old Hickory reflects the influence of Stephen Bannon and conversations he’s had with Newt Gingrich. It’s not clear how much Trump himself has explicitly engaged with what it means to be Jacksonian, but he clearly likes the general idea.
"Like Jackson's populism, we're going to build an entirely new political movement,” Bannon, who will be chief strategist in the new White House, declared in November. “The conservatives are going to go crazy. I'm the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan,” he explained to the Hollywood Reporter. “Shipyards, ironworks, get them all jacked up. We're just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s (and) greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement."
Gingrich has repeatedly compared Trump to Jackson in public for nearly a year. The former Speaker of the House reportedly did so again last night during a party his law firm put on at The Source. “The only president remotely like Trump is Andrew Jackson,” Newt told Breitbart.com last March when Bannon was still running the conservative site day-to-day. When asked if Trump has the mental fitness to be commander-in-chief last summer, the onetime history professor told a New York Times reporter: “Sure. I mean, he is at least as reliable as Andrew Jackson, who was one of the most decisive presidents in American history.”
Other Trump intimates subsequently glommed onto the analogy. “This is like Andrew Jackson's victory,” New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said on MSNBC after the election. “This is the people beating the establishment!”
-- Every new president inevitably draws comparisons to some of his predecessors when he takes office. Often, as with the stories eight years ago about how Barack Obama was like Abraham Lincoln, these pieces are way overwrought. Like snowflakes, no two presidents are exactly alike. They are products of their time. But most presidents typify a strain of thought that can be traced back to the founding, and they tap into elemental forces that have presented themselves before.
-- Jon Meacham, who wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Jackson called “American Lion,” believes the aura of populism and power around Jackson is what appeals to Trump. “I totally understand why Trump would want to link himself to Jackson,” Meacham told me last night by phone. “An outsider. The first president of his type. The first president who wasn’t either a Virginia planter or an Adams from Massachusetts.”
Jackson radically expanded the power of the presidency, ignoring orders of the Supreme Court and perennially working to usurp congressional sovereignty. Only a handful of presidents have an epoch of American history named for them, and none is as long as The Age of Jackson. A general known for his ruthlessness, he entered the national consciousness because of his success in the Battle of New Orleans. “Jackson’s opponents successfully portrayed him as King Andrew I,” Meacham said. “Trump, I think, would be delighted to be portrayed as King Donald I.”
He had many flaws, but Jackson proved somewhat adept at the art of governing. He knew when to bluff and when to fold. “Jackson could leverage his vices into political virtues,” said Meacham. “I don’t think we’ve seen a great deal of evidence yet that Trump can do the same. … Can he use his bombast the way Jackson did as a negotiating tactic? … Jackson faked a lot of temper tantrums. I can’t tell how much of Trump’s are real or manufactured.”
Meacham said he’s “totally open minded” that Trump just might be able to replicate some of Jackson’s political talents. “Having been wrong about everything since June of 2015, I am not ruling that out,” he said.
-- Scholars and journalists from across the ideological spectrum have also seen resonance in the Trump-Jackson analogy:
“Old Hickory might be mystified that a celebrity New York billionaire is holding up his banner (but) Trump is nonetheless a powerful voice for Jacksonian attitudes,” National Review Editor Rich Lowry wrote back in 2015. “Historian Walter Russell Mead once wrote a memorable essay on the Jacksonianism that, so many years later, serves as a very rough guide to the anti-PC and fiercely nationalistic populism of the 2016 Trump campaign. … ‘The Jacksonian hero dares to say what the people feel and defies the entrenched elites,’ Mead writes. ‘The hero may make mistakes, but he will command the unswerving loyalty of Jacksonian America so long as his heart is perceived to be in the right place.’ … Trump doesn’t believe in limited government. ‘Jacksonians believe that the government should do everything in its power to promote the well-being — political, moral, economic — of the folk community,’ Mead writes. … Trump isn’t ideologically consistent. The Jacksonian philosophy, Mead notes, ‘is an instinct rather than an ideology — a culturally shaped set of beliefs and emotions rather than a set of ideas.’”
-- Steve Inskeep, the co-host of NPR’s “Morning Edition” who wrote a book called “Jacksonland” about the Trail of Tears, sketches out two other parallels:
“Jackson, like Trump, made innovative use of the media,” he wrote in a November essay for The Atlantic. “He offered nothing like Trump’s running commentary on Twitter … But he did use newspapers, which were growing in number and importance. A subscriber to as many as 17 papers, he understood the changing media landscape better than his critics did. He personally involved himself in news coverage, once writing a letter urging that a friendly, but alcoholic, newspaperman must be kept sober long enough to ‘scorch’ one of Jackson’s rivals. He … made sure they established a pro-Jackson newspaper in Washington when he took office. (His famous ‘kitchen cabinet’ included these newsmen.) Trump, of course, has made analogous moves by managing his own media relations, asking Sean Hannity for advice and inviting Bannon to serve as his strategist…
“There is (also) something Jacksonian both in Trump’s promise to ‘drain the swamp’ of Washington and his early moves to refill the swamp with wealthy friends, loyal supporters, and family members. … Though not born to wealth as Trump was, Jackson made his fortune on the early American frontier. He did not clear out Washington elites so much as bring a new coalition of elites to power: New York politicians and Pennsylvania businessmen allied with Southern slaveholders. Jackson tended to their special interests. He also used political patronage to stuff the government with Jackson loyalists.”
-- Stay tuned: We’ll send a special afternoon edition of The 202 with analysis and a round-up of the best inauguration coverage.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- The New York Times reports that U.S. intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad inquiry into possible links between Russian officials and at least three Trump advisers, including former campaign manager Paul Manafort, former foreign policy adviser Carter Page, and longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone: “The continuing counterintelligence investigation means that Mr. Trump will take the oath of office on Friday with his associates under investigation and after the intelligence agencies concluded that the Russian government had worked to help elect him. As president, Mr. Trump will oversee those agencies and have the authority to redirect or stop at least some of these efforts. It is not clear whether the intercepted communications had anything to do with Mr. Trump’s campaign, or Mr. Trump himself. It is also unclear whether the inquiry has anything to do with an investigation into the hacking of the [DNC] computers and other attempts to disrupt the elections in November...
“Of the half-dozen current and former officials who confirmed the existence of the investigations, some said they were providing information because they feared the new administration would obstruct their efforts. … It is unclear which Russian officials are under investigation, or what particular conversations caught the attention of American eavesdroppers.” (The Post's Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller have more details on where the investigation stands.)
A former U.S. ambassador to Russia reacted to the story:
-- Trump gave up control of his old Android cell phone and personal number before his final flight on his own plane the day before yesterday. He's gotten a secure, encrypted device with a number only a handful of people will have. Adviser Kellyanne Conway tells NBC’s “Today” show that this doesn’t necessarily mean he will change his Twitter habits. When Willie Geist asked if Trump will still answer every criticism, like from “SNL” and Meryl Streep, she replied: “He doesn’t answer every criticism, believe me. … He rarely draws first blood.”
GET SMART FAST:
- The Mexican government extradited notorious drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to the U.S., where he will face a raft of federal charges stemming from his leadership of the Sinaloa drug cartel. A Mexican official told The Post that the Thursday evening transfer, on the last full day of the Obama administration, was meant as a “farewell gift” to the outgoing president and not as an overture to Trump. (Joshua Partlow, William Branigin and Matt Zapotosky)
- Two U.S. stealth bombers struck Islamic State camps outside the city of Sirte, taking out “critically important” militant camps that the Pentagon said were “actively plotting” attacks in Europe. Defense Department officials said some 100 bombs were dropped on the Libyan city, and that the operation was approved by President Obama. It comes less than a month after the Pentagon declared an end to an extended air campaign there. (Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Dan Lamothe)
- Senegal deployed troops to Gambia to force out longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh, who has been in power for 23 years and was voted out in an election last month. The operation was announced after the newly-chosen president Adama Barrow took the oath of office from exile in the Senegalese capital. (Kevin Sieff)
- President Obama announced 330 prison commutations for nonviolent drug offenders, bringing his total number of clemencies to 1,715 -- more than the past 12 presidents combined. (Sari Horwitz)
- Rescue efforts to reach victims trapped by an earthquake-triggered-avalanche in Italy continue, hours after 30 people – including hotel guests, staff, and young children – were listed as missing.(Stefano Pitrelli, Paul Schemm and Brian Murphy)
- Tragedy struck an Atlanta community after a pitbull and border collie escaped from their fenced-in backyard and mauled a group of schoolchildren, leaving one six-year-old dead and another hospitalized with injuries. “They kept coming back,” recounted one tearful bystander, saying the dogs were undeterred by knives and bats grabbed by frantic parents. (Katie Mettler)
- A family-owned fish-and-chips restaurant off the coast of Vancouver has been prohibited from opening after a council of property owners ruled that its name – Moby Dick – was too offensive. They said the Melville-inspired theme would “depreciate the value” of other properties, even after the thwarted buyers noted it was inspired by a literary masterpiece. (Kristine Guerra)
- A California school for special-needs students is being sued for negligence after a disabled fifth grader was fed bleach through a feeding tube in her abdomen. She became violently ill and was rushed to the hospital but was unable to communicate what happened – and school officials with knowledge of the attack reportedly stayed mum. (Kristine Guerra)
- An ex-NFL player has filed a lawsuit against video game developers -- and hired a forensic voice expert – after claiming his identity was stolen in the popular video game “Gears of War.” He says developers copied his mannerisms, speaking style, and face to use in the game, which has generated more than a billion dollars in revenue. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
- A Texas mayor propelled to victory by his anti-establishment candidacy and promises to “fix” the government has resigned – just 37 days after taking office. His tenure was brief but volatile, and punctuated with a series of befuddling claims: he said the council was comprised of “only high school graduates,” in one instance – when many have masters' degrees – and also raised questions about the legitimacy of his own education. “Do I have a specific degree that says ‘engineer’ on it?” he memorably asked. “No. So does that make me not an engineer? I’ve been an engineer for years.” (Lindsey Bever)
IT'S REALLY HAPPENING -- THE TRUMP TAKEOVER HAS BEGUN:
-- DJT arrived in Washington on the eve of his inauguration, snapping the nation’s capital into its new reality as the buoyant business mogul celebrated his unlikely political ascent. Philip Rucker and John Wagner report: “Kicking off three days of carefully orchestrated inaugural proceedings infused with pomp and guided by precision and protocol, the president-elect reveled in the moment and delivered a tribute to the populist movement that propelled him into office. ‘We all got tired of seeing what was happening and we wanted change, but we wanted real change,’ Trump said on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. ‘It’s a movement like we’ve never seen anywhere in the world, they say.’" (Watch a video of his remarks.)
-- “We have by far the highest IQ of any Cabinet ever assembled,” Trump said in a characteristically grandiose — and unprovable — declaration before several hundred supporters, lawmakers and allies at an official luncheon.
-- Trump announced during the same speech that he will appoint New York Jets owner and major GOP donor Woody Johnson as the next U.S. ambassador to Britain. (Matt Bonesteel)
-- An upbeat Trump wrapped up his day by delivering meandering remarks at a black-tie “candlelight dinner” for donors at Union Station. John Wagner has the highlights:
- Trump said his cabinet picks are so good that “the other side is going absolutely crazy.”
- He predicted that Republicans would pick up seats in Congress in two years and that he will be easily reelected in 2020.
- He offered shout-outs to several people, including his daughter, Ivanka, who was in attendance. Trump said his daughter had “married very well,” a reference to her husband, Jared Kushner, whom Trump has hired as a senior adviser in the White House. Kushner’s portfolio will include the Middle East. “I sort of stole her husband,” Trump told the crowd. “He is so great. If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can.”
- Even though Reince Priebus had to remain neutral in a Republican primary in which there was a crowded field, “I always felt like he favored me,” Trump said.
- The president-elect then summoned his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway — or “my Kellyanne,” as he called her — up to the stage. Trump praised Conway’s ability to appear in hostile television interviews and more than hold her own. “She gets on and she does destroy them,” Trump said. “Thank you, baby, thank you.”
-- The 24-year-old Illinois man who worked as a volunteer social media coordinator for the Trump campaign in Illinois, and who drove to Washington with a donated suit and pair of shoes as he struggled to absorb the costs of attending an inaugural ball, scored an unlikely meeting with the man he helped elect last night. Justin Jouvenal, who went to Illinois earlier in the week to profile him, has the story: “The former security guard from rural Illinois walked into a tent behind the Lincoln Memorial and gave a bear hug to the man who would soon become the most powerful leader in the world. The president-elect beamed: ‘This is the greatest guy.’ The unlikely meeting occurred after Trump said he read a profile of Bouvet … and was impressed by his story. Now, improbably, it was the night before the swearing-in and Bouvet had picked his way past the Secret Service and was hanging out with the president-elect, top Trump advisers Reince Priebus and Stephen K. Bannon and the first-lady-to-be Melania Trump. Tears welled in Bouvet’s eyes. Trump signed an autograph for Bouvet. Then, they decided to call Bouvet’s father." After the meeting, Trump put his hand on Bouvet’s back and told an aide, “Send him a check for $10,000.”
-- SOBERING: Before he’s sworn in this morning, Trump will sit down with the top military officers who control America's massive military arsenal and get "THE Briefing," the one that provides him with an understanding — and the tools — of how he would launch nuclear strikes. He will then have control of 4,000 warheads. From NBC News: “In past transitions, the president-elect has not received the actual nuclear code card until after the briefing and his meeting with the outgoing president at the White House, just before the actual ceremony. The code card is activated electronically right after the president-elect takes the oath at noon.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TODAY'S CEREMONY:
-- Trump is scheduled to be sworn in at 11:47 a.m. He'll speak immediately afterward. Trump will go from the Blair House at 8:30 a.m. to St. John's Church. Then he will have coffee with Barack Obama at around 9:30. (Here's the 12-page inaugural program.)
-- Today’s inauguration forecast is officially gloomy with showers – but evening party-goers and Saturday protesters can expect some drier weather ahead. Here’s the Capital Weather Gang: “Overcast conditions with periodic rain looks probable. Dress in warm layers and stay dry with a poncho or rain jacket — although on the Mall, many attendees are allowed a small ‘tote’ collapsible umbrella. Off-and-on rain may not taper until afternoon, but at least it looks like a generally light rain when it occurs. A more moderate period may focus on the midday before it ends. Temperatures should be able to reach the mid-40s to around 50 degrees. Luckily we have no major breeze to speak of, so wind chill and blowing rain are non-issues.”
-- In the final count, nearly 70 Democratic House members won’t attend. (Here's a list.)
-- Chief Justice John Roberts will swear in Trump – and as Post Supreme Court reporter Robert Barnes quips, maybe one day he’ll see a friendly face on the other side of the Bible. Obama as a senator voted against his confirmation, and Trump has slammed him as a “nightmare for conservatives.” Chicago law professor and SCOTUS scholar Justin Driver says it is “hard to think of a president-elect” who has more actively attacked a chief justice appointed by a president of the same political party than Trump has done with Roberts.
-- Two of Trump’s nominees may be confirmed by the Senate after lunch. Democrats say they’ll vote on defense secretary pick Gen. James Mattis and homeland security secretary nominee Gen. John F. Kelly. Chuck Schumer says they'll vote on Rep. Mike Pompeo’s nomination for CIA director next week. (Karoun Demirjian and Mike DeBonis)
TRUMP FALLS IN LINE:
-- Trump and his team wanted to break with lots of old traditions for today’s events, in ways big and small, but they backed down under pressure. Three telling illustrations:
1. Members of the Trump planning team asked if tanks and missile-launchers could be used in today's parade, according to the Huffington Post’s Jessica Schulberg: “During the preparation for Friday’s transfer-of-power, a member of Trump’s transition team floated the idea … ‘They were legit thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade,’ the source said, referring to massive military parades in Moscow and Pyongyang, typically seen as an aggressive display of muscle-flexing. The military, which traditionally works closely with the presidential inaugural committee, shot down the request. ... Their reason was twofold. Some were concerned about the optics of having tanks and missile launchers rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue. But they also worried that the tanks, which often weigh over 100,000 pounds, would destroy the roads.” Instead, they'll get a large fly-over of military aircraft.
2. “Trump’s team says chowder is back on the menu,” by The Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey: Every inaugural since Ronald Reagan’s in 1980 had served chowder from Legal Seafood, but after the company ran ads making fun of Trump’s small hands last year it was excluded from the initial planning. The Globe ran a front page story about this snub last week, which prompted an outcry from New England Republicans (some started referring to it as “chowdergate”!). This prompted the transition team to change course and announce yesterday that the chowder will be served. “Trump’s campaign cochair in Massachusetts, state Representative Geoff Diehl, had told WBZ that Trump should ‘Make seafood great again’ and would press the president-elect to reconsider. ‘I will make sure that Massachusetts gets its due,’ he said.” Even Massachusetts’s GOP governor weighed in to get chowder included.
3. Trump also decided to issue special license plates for his inaugural parade, a reversal on an issue that threatened to overshadow his presidency in the small-but-dedicated community of license-plate collectors. “The decision by Mr. Trump’s Presidential Inaugural Committee comes five days after The Wall Street Journal reported (on the front page) that the 45th president would break with 84 years of precedent and not produce special inaugural plates for his Friday parade,” Reid Epstein writes. “It preserves a policy first enacted by President Franklin Roosevelt that is revered by collectors for whom the quadrennial scramble for a presidential inaugural license plate is a hallowed tradition.”
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A PRESIDENT TRUMP?
-- Today's top curtain raiser is from Michael Kranish, who chronicles Trump’s rise from boyhood to bullish president-elect: “He punched his music teacher, disobeyed his parents by sneaking into Manhattan and, according to his close friend at the time, bought a switchblade knife. Eventually, his parents sent him away, enrolling him for five teenage years in New York Military Academy, which tried, and often failed, to calm the most hyperkinetic of all the Trumps. Donald, the family learned, could not be easily contained. For much of his 70 years, Trump has been on a roller-coaster ride of rebellion and revolution and upending it all, of risking everything, leaving wreckage in his path when necessary, and, above all, finding a way to survive. To win...
“So, how will Trump govern, this man who says one thing, then changes his mind, then attacks, then strives to please? Who has no record of governance, who has had as much failure as success. He was elected on a wave of angst and anger, embodying an idea expressed by countless supporters: blow up the way Washington works (or doesn’t work). Not just disruption but explosion … The prologue of the campaign is past. In the great sweep of history, it is only now, as Trump ascends to the presidency, that his story truly begins."
-- “Trump’s post-election statement for unity and any calls for healing on Friday represent bookends of a transition in which a series of other comments, tweets and actions have done the opposite,” Dan Balz writes. “Democrats say they can point to little as evidence that Trump truly wants to make the country whole. [Now], the question is: How important binding a divided nation will be to Trump once he becomes president? Will he seek to unify the country, and if so how? Or will he decide there is little he can do and then govern a divided nation the way he sought and won the presidency — by accentuating those differences? The ultimate answer will not come on Friday, but clues will emerge soon after, as the 45th president and his adversaries begin to engage over his and the Republicans’ agendas. Actions, not words, will tell the tale.”
-- The U.S. Capitol may be the backdrop for the official swearing-in ceremony on Friday, but the hub of inaugural action is Trump’s hotel – home to some of the week’s most sought-after private gatherings and, earlier this week, a surprise visit from the president-elect himself. Matea Gold and Jonathan O'Connell report: “Out in the airy lobby, where 4,000 red, white and blue balloons were cosseted in nets far above the crystal chandeliers, Trump supporters snapped selfies with incoming White House aides Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer … [while] major party fundraisers from Texas and New York huddled at the marble bar. The main draw: '[Trump] owns it,' said Doug Deason, a Dallas investor. 'So many of the parties will be here. It’s electric — nobody wants to go to bed.' Nevertheless, after they awake Friday, the hotel will become the site of the first clash between Trump’s business interests and his presidency. At 12:01 p.m., when Trump becomes president, he may be in violation of his lease for the building, which is owned by the federal government."
-- Trump’s team announced eleventh-hour plans to keep on 50 essential State Department and national security officials currently working in the Obama administration, seeking to ensure “continuity of government” as transition staffers rush to fill out the lower levels of the administration.
-- Trump transition officials phoned inspectors general in “at least a handful” of Cabinet departments last week to indicate that they could soon be removed from their posts – breaking from the bipartisan tradition of letting inspectors general stay in their jobs as long as they are willing, Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin report. “After some IGs protested, a more senior member of the Trump transition team ordered a new round of phone calls within days to reassure the inspectors general that they would not be forced from their posts. The confusion is another indication of how parts of the Trump transition team appear unfamiliar with the workings of the federal government. And it underscores the sometimes tense relationship between the incoming administration and portions of the federal workforce, which could lead to friction after Trump takes office.”
-- Trump take office with the lowest approval rating of any incoming president in the history of polling. A new CBS News poll finds more Americans disapprove (48 percent) than approve (37 percent) of the way Trump has handled his presidential transition. Views on Trump as a person are similar: A fresh Fox News poll finds that, while 42 percent of voters hold a favorable opinion of the incoming president, 55 percent view him unfavorably. (That’s a net negative of 13 points.) Meanwhile, voters said by a 50-40 percent margin that Trump is doing a bad job of listening to them, and a 54 percent said they disapprove of how he has handled the transition.
-- Hundreds of Trump protesters and supporters clashed last night outside the “DeploraBall” event at the National Press Club, screaming obscenities and setting small fires just hours before Trump assumes the presidency. In one case, a Trump supporter threw an object that struck a counterprotester in the head. Clarence Williams reports: “Some protesters raised their middle fingers and shouted obscenities and terms such as ‘racist’ and ‘Nazi’at those attending the celebratory ball … [and] a small group of protesters in hoods and black masks set a fire in the center of the street. Another fire was set in a trash can. A different group used a floodlight and stencil to project the phrases ‘Bragging about Grabbing a Woman’s Genitals’ and ‘Impeach the Predatory President’ onto the side of the Press Club building. Others inflated a 15-foot-tall white elephant with a banner attached that said ‘racism.’”
-- Meanwhile, organizers of the “DeploraBall” said they banned Nazi salutes and other racist innuendo from the event, seeking to separate themselves from alt-right groups who have previously invoked Nazi sentiments to praise the president-elect. (TMZ)
-- D.C. authorities are bracing for massive protests around D.C. this weekend – with groups of demonstrators ranging from 20 participants to somewhere in the tens of thousands. To get a taste of what Washington is in for, Theresa Vargas breaks down what just a few of the demonstrators have planned: One group said more than 45,000 people indicated an interest in joining their protest near the U.S. Navy Memorial. They plan to have a 28-foot stage and large sound system to host speakers and performers all day – a spokesman for the group dubbed it a “counterinauguration.” And while some groups said they are steering protesters against acting in a “physically disruptive” manner, others have no such plans. One activist collective said they are rolling out “a series of massive direct actions that will shut down the Inauguration ceremonies and any related celebrations — the Inaugural parade, the Inaugural balls, you name it.” They’re also planning to “paralyze the city itself, using blockades and marches to stop traffic and even public transit.”
-- Bigger picture: “Democrats and the broader left, recuperating from an election few of them thought they could lose, are organizing one of the broadest — and earliest — opposition campaigns ever to greet a new president,” David Weigel writes. “It began with protests in the hours after Trump’s victory, but it has become bolder since, marked most dramatically by nearly 70 Democratic members of Congress boycotting the inauguration itself. ‘To borrow the words of Joe Hill: Don’t mourn. Organize,’ said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio … ‘We should be humble about the fact that Trump found a way to address real concerns that people had, while never forgetting that he got 3 million votes less’ than [Clinton] … Part of the response, so far, has been a steady run of public protests, many of them endorsed by Democrats. It is a marked change from 2001, when protests of the [incoming Bush administration] were dominated by the political fringe, and a contrast even with 2009, when tea party protests were egged on by conservative organizations but only slowly joined by elected Republicans.”
-- Making plans to head downtown this weekend? Check out The Post’s comprehensive rundown of concerts, balls, and demonstrations in the area. If you’re in D.C. for the first time, here’s a list of Metro tips for out-of-towners. And commuters can read this handy list of bridge and road closures for Inauguration Day.
Here’s a primer on some of the demonstrations planned for this weekend, including a marijuana giveaway:
-- Several Washington law groups have joined to offer free legal assistance to individuals who may be arrested in this weekend's demonstrations. Lawyers are on call all weekend, and many throughout next week, to provide help to any protesters who need it. (Keith L. Alexander)
-- Meanwhile, a group of anti-gay protesters holding signs reading, “homo sex is sin” and “judgment is coming” assembled outside Comet Ping Pong, the D.C. pizzeria that became a victim of the fake news epidemic. Demonstrators have called themselves the “Official Street Preachers,” and have been harassing passersby and customers by megaphone -- calling them “wicked perverts” and “sinners.” (Washingtonian)
-- Organizers of a glitzy inaugural ball for military veterans shuttered the event on Wednesday night, just 42 hours before it was slated to take place. They cited “security reasons and events beyond our control,” but others suggested that financial reasons were what actually caused the last-minute cancelation. (Emily Heil)
-- "At inaugural balls, lots of pomp regardless of circumstances," by Style's Dan Zak and Roxanne Roberts: “Every four years, one political party exults in the other’s defeat with a cascade of black-tie events — the personification of the kind of elitism [Trump] vowed to eradicate from Washington. This week, though, the capital did what it’s always done: gone through the quadrennial motions of pomp, with only glancing regard for the circumstance. Not to say it was, you know, normal. That was clear by Thursday night, when Bill Clinton’s accusers showed up at another party. ‘Paula and I are having a blast at this first gala,’ tweeted [Juanita Broaddrick], who accused [Clinton] of raping her in 1978. Meanwhile, the first-ever ‘Deploraball’ started slowly and weirdly, its name a perversely proud tribute to [Clinton’s] disparagement of a certain ilk of Trump supporters. Though held at the National Press Club, reporters were denied entry to the affair — can’t trust the media, you know — and yet the event was livestreamed for the public, a couple thousand online viewers watching … as red-capped Trump fans trickled onto the dance floor."
OBAMA PASSES THE BATON:
-- The White House took on a “ghostly quality” as staff moved out the last of their things. “Desks were emptied. Iconic photographs of Obama came off the walls,” David Nakamura writes. “Handwritten notes were left for the Obama aides' successors. The sparsely populated corridors of the White House made for an unusual sensation, as reporters roamed the offices of Obama's communications team without supervision." (Earlier in the day, the outgoing administration hosted a White House-wide scavenger hunt.)
-- Writing a letter to the next commander-in-chief is a tradition for outgoing presidents. And as Obama prepares pen his own words to Trump, ABC News published the letter that Bill Clinton wrote George W. Bush and the letter Bush wrote Obama upon each president’s final days in office. “There will be trying moments,” Bush wrote. “The critics will rage. … But, you will have an Almighty God to comfort you, a family who loves you, and a country that is pulling for you, including me.” (Read both letters here.)
-- Speaking of letters: On his way out the door, mindful of a major unkept promise, Obama sent an angry letter to Congress complaining about the failure to close Gitmo. In a message addressed to Paul Ryan and Orrin Hatch, the president said that the legislative branch “abdicated their responsibility to the American people” by limiting his ability to close the prison. “They have placed politics above the ongoing costs to taxpayers, our relationships with our allies, and the threat posed to U.S. national security by leaving open a facility that governments around the world condemn and which hinders rather than helps our fight against terrorism,” Obama wrote. “If this were easy, we would have closed Guantanamo years ago. But history will cast a harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism and those of us who fail to bring it to a responsible end.”
-- Malia Obama secretly traveled on a five-day trek through Bolivia and Peru last year, where not even the guides recognized the First Daughter who was in their care. The New York Times’ Ernesto Londoño reports: "Embassy officials had phoned the guides prior to departure to inform them that an 'important American dignitary' would be under their guidance, but they were given no additional details. 'There was a blond girl and we assumed she was the important one,' one of the guides said. Only in recent days, after Bolivian journalists broke the story of her trip, did the guides realize who had been in their care. 'She was very humble, chatty, spoke Spanish very well,' one guide recounted. 'She was mesmerized by the Bolivian landscape.'"
-- Obama tapped Eric Schultz, currently his principal deputy press secretary at the White House, to serve as his post-presidency senior adviser. He’ll work with Kevin Lewis, tapped as Obama’s post-presidency spokesman, and Caroline Adler Morales, who will be communications director for outgoing first lady Michelle Obama. (Politico)
-- In this week's New Yorker, a White House staffer reflects on what it was like to watch Trump ascend to the presidency -- from inside the White House. From Pat Cunnane: “We woke up to a gloomy, rainy day. It was fitting, but also a bit much—like we were living a movie with a lazy script. In the basement of the West Wing, gallows humor was a way to cope with the shock. I heard a White House aide facetiously plead with a counterterrorism staffer, 'Please tell me it was the Russians.'"
-- Trump’s Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin faced a round of combative questioning during his confirmation hearing yesterday, defending his ties to offshore business entities and his management of a California bank criticized for its foreclosure practices. Ylan Q. Mui reports: “Speaking before the Senate Finance committee, Mnuchin said businesses in the Cayman Islands and Anguilla revealed in his financial disclosures were not used for his personal benefit but served nonprofits and pensions.” His remarks came after a memo showed that Mnuchin initially failed to disclose some of those entities -- as well as more than $100 million in personal assets -- in his nomination paperwork. “Mnuchin has revised the documents … [and] did not dispute the errors Thursday, which were characterized inadvertent mistakes. ‘In no way did I use [offshore entities] to avoid U.S. taxes,’ Mnuchin said. 'I can assure you I pay all my taxes as was required.'
“Mnuchin, a veteran Wall Street investor, has also come under fire for his 2009 purchase of failed subprime mortgage lender IndyMac from the federal government. Mnuchin renamed the bank OneWest and ran it for six years. During that time, he said, the bank modified over 100,000 of the country’s most troubled loans and saved thousands of jobs in the process. ‘I have been maligned as taking advantage of others’ hardships in order to earn a buck,’ Mnuchin told lawmakers. ‘Nothing could be further from the truth.’”
-- Energy Secretary nominee Rick Perry appeared for his confirmation hearing on Thursday, telling senators he felt “regret” for his previous pledge to abolish the department in 2012. Steven Mufson and Sean Sullivan report: “’My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking,’ Perry said in his opening statement. ‘In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.; After addressing the defining moment of his national political career, Perry brought up the politically sensitive topic of climate change, saying he believes the climate is changing and ‘some of it’ is caused by ‘man-made activity.’ He added: ’The question is how we address it in a thoughtful way that doesn’t compromise economic growth.’”
-- “Almost to a person, the people whom [Trump] has picked to run key federal agencies have echoed strikingly similar views about the warming planet and what to do, or not do, about it,” Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney note. “Their position, which has proven maddening to many climate scientists, acknowledges three points: Yes, the climate is changing. Humans probably have some role. But it’s likely not the country’s most urgent problem. But the views of those potential Trump Cabinet members have exasperated some scientists, who fear that their comments in confirmation hearings over the past week have sown doubt about the extent of the human factor in climate change despite the empirical evidence."
-- Trump’s defense secretary pick James Mattis has ties to private companies that “the revolving-door culture of Washington.” Dan Lamothe, Carolyn Y. Johnson and Michael Kranish explain: “[Trump] ran for president on the theme of draining ‘the swamp’ of Washington … but in Mattis, he has selected a defense secretary who embodies the revolving-door culture of Washington that Trump promised to end. Last week, as he sailed through his confirmation hearing, not one senator asked him about his work with General Dynamics, or his time on the board of blood-testing company Theranos, where he was paid at least $150,000 in a period when the company’s labs and core technology were being questioned. ‘It would be rare to find any senior retired military officer who is not connected in some way to a military contractor,’ said Christopher Preble, vice president for defense and foreign policy at the libertarian Cato Institute. But, Preble said, “the fact that it did not come up in the hearing is disappointing. I think he should have been compelled to explain how he will comply with the ethics rules.’”
-- Michael Cohen, the combative lawyer known for his fierce decade of defending Trump and his business network, will stay on as Trump’s personal attorney while he serves in the White House. Rosalind S. Helderman reports: “Cohen said he will defend Trump in a personal capacity and his role will place him outside both the Trump Organization and the White House Counsel’s Office. Cohen said he will resign from the Trump Organization, where he has held the title of executive vice president and special counsel to Trump, and vacate his Trump Tower office … [to avoid what he called a ‘perceived conflict.’] Since he will not be serving in government, Cohen will not be required to file financial disclosure forms required of White House employees. At the same time, his role as legal counsel to Trump will likely afford him attorney-client privilege, making communications between him and Trump confidential.” Cohen said the exact parameters of the role are “still being reviewed,” but said he will defend Trump in a defamation case filed this week by a former “Apprentice” candidate who accused Trump of kissing and groping her in 2007.
THE WORLD REACTS:
-- Russia is gaga for Trump. David Filipov reports from Moscow: “Call it Trumpomania. Or Trumpophrenia. Or any of a number of other Trumpisms that have popped up in Russia as this country counts down the moments to [Trump’s] ascension to the White House. Russia has gone crazy for Trump, and it’s not just because [Putin] and his government have been portraying the presidency of Barack Obama as one long, disastrous exercise in Russophobia … Something about the advent of Trump has stirred the Russian soul, [and] it’s almost as though the 45th president of Russia were about to take office on Friday. Businesses have renamed their products after the world leader formerly known as The Donald. Talk show hosts have dedicated hours to the expression of hope that Trump will lift U.S.-Russian relations from their all-time post-Cold-War low (and in some cases to nasty, unabashedly racist farewells to President Obama).” A weapons factory even minted a commemorative coin with the inscription “In Trump We Trust.”
-- A day after Trump is sworn into office, prominent leaders of Europe’s right-wing populist parties will gather in the Germany for what observers see as a “show of force” targeting the E.U. It’s the first time they will meet publicly, and the event is expected to garner widespread attention. (Stephanie Kirchner)
-- Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview that he thinks relations with the U.S. will improve “significantly” under Trump, and expects “positive responses” to concerns it believes the Obama administration played down. (Karen DeYoung)
-- Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat slammed Obama in a video released overnight, disparaging the outgoing leader and welcoming Trump to the White House. The mayor’s video also launched an online campaign urging the new president to make good on his promise to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (William Booth)
-- Meanwhile, aides for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have reached out to Trump as fears grow up north about protectionism and the potential failure of NAFTA. (Alan Freeman)
-- Headline du jour, from the Wall Street Journal: “Taiwan Fears Becoming a Pawn in Donald Trump’s Game.”
THE PUNDITS WEIGH IN:
-- SHOT: In a Post op-ed, conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt writes that it’s “time to relax about Trump”: “People of moderate dispositions are unsettled by Trump’s approach, and the single word they use is ‘temperament.’ Trump is loud and proud and big and bold and full of scorn for his opponents. That very nature carried him to his win. It isn’t going to change. [But] those alarmed by Trump should recognize that those personality characteristics do not define the entire man or his agenda for the next four years — and that, in fact, there are good reasons to welcome the brashness. The vast, suffocating bureaucratic state has grown so powerful and utterly muffling of genuine ideological diversity that we need to break the ice forming over the national conversation … Trump is Thor’s hammer in that regard. It could get loud, but we could also end up hashing some hard things out.”
-- CHASER: Each morning, the earnest desire to “give Trump a chance” dies a little more, writes New Yorker Editor David Remnick. “Many … allowed that, sure, Trump had been full of outrageous abandon as a campaigner, he’d say just about anything, you know the Donald; and yet, they argued, the gravity of office would soon occur to him, settle and focus him, make a serious, tolerant man of him. Trump would surround himself with competent, knowledgeable, steady, ethical, decent counsellors; he would plunge into his briefing books and acquire a keener sense of the issues and the world … He would become someone else. As if wishing would make it so. Where is the slightest evidence of this magical transformation? Where are all the sober counsellors, the newfound ethics? Where is the competence, the decency, and the humanity? The reason so many people are having fever dreams and waking up with a knot in the gut is not that they are political crybabies, not that a Republican defeated a Democrat … It is not that they ‘don’t get it.’ It’s that they do.”
-- “[Trump] is all gut instinct, all blood and soil, all about loyalty over detached reason,” says New York Times’ columnist David Brooks: “His business is a pre-modern family clan, not an impersonal corporation, and he is staffing his White House as a pre-modern family monarchy, with his relatives and a few royal retainers. Everything is personal, pulsating outward from his needy core. … The very thing that made him right electorally for this moment will probably make him an incompetent president. He is the ultimate anti-institutional man, but the president sits at the nerve center of a routinized, regularized four-million-person institution. If the figure at the center can’t give consistent, clear and informed direction, the whole system goes haywire, with vicious infighting and creeping anarchy.Some on the left worry that we are seeing the rise of fascism, a new authoritarian age. That gets things exactly backward. The real fear in the Trump era should be that everything will become disorganized, chaotic, degenerate, clownish and incompetent.”
-- “This deeply blue Wisconsin village still seems surprised it voted for Trump,” by Jenna Johnson: “As the Packers and Cowboys kicked off earlier this week, a couple of dozen regulars arrived at the Vet’s Bar with potluck dishes to share, including a crockpot of hot dogs, macaroni salad, deviled eggs and layered dip. For decades, Trempealeau … has been deeply Democratic, with President Obama getting 56 percent of the vote here in 2012 and 60 percent in 2008. But in November, Trump won Trempealeau with 53 percent. The victory stunned many residents … [and] the same flip happened in 50 other Midwestern counties clustered in western Wisconsin, southern Minnesota, eastern Iowa and northwest Illinois … Several lifelong Republicans say they voted for him, often reluctantly, but they didn’t expect him to win — and, as Inauguration Day approached, they were concerned that the country is even more divided.” One man said he still voted for Democrats in down-ballot races, but thinks “he has become a Republican.” “Now, depending on how Trump goes,” he said, “I may switch back.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
From last night's events:
The cover of one of Trump's hometown papers:
Lawmakers posted photos of Washington looking festive:
Spotted en route to Washington -- Jimmy Carter:
Obama wrote a parting letter to the American people:
Celebrities, including Ellen DeGeneres, posted old photos of Obama:
The Obama team signed off on social media:
Scenes from around Washington:
From an anti-Trump protest outside Trump Tower in New York:
From a local bookstore:
Telling? David Duke praised Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) for her visit to Syria:
Finally, check out The Economist's cover (the accompanying story is here):
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- Politico, “How the Senate's Russian meddling probe almost blew up,” by Austin Wright and Martin Matishak: “Sen. Mark Warner couldn’t believe what his Republican counterpart on the Senate Intelligence Committee had just done. With no advance notice, Chairman Richard Burr declared to reporters that his panel wouldn’t look into possible collusion between [Trump’s] campaign and Moscow as part of its investigation of Russian interference in the election. So Warner … promptly enlisted every Democrat on the committee to oppose Burr’s move and presumably boycott the investigation if he didn't reverse himself … Barely 24 hours later, Burr issued a lengthy statement backtracking on his own comments. The implicit boycott threat … illustrates the uneasy partnership between Burr and Warner as their committee assumes one of the toughest assignments in Washington. The two are seeking to maintain a bipartisan spirit on a committee now tasked with getting to the bottom of the biggest question hanging over Trump as he prepares to take the oath of office — whether his campaign coordinated with Russia.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Spokesman Defends Donald Trump’s Decision To Exclude Latinos From Cabinet,” from HuffPost: “Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday that Latinos shouldn’t be worried that [Trump’s] Cabinet will be the first in decades to lack a Latino member ― they should be more concerned with whether he’s picking ‘the best and the brightest.’ Trump announced his pick for the next agriculture secretary, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R), Thursday morning. It was the last open spot in his largely white, male proposed Cabinet, and the last chance for Trump to include a Latino in his Cabinet, as every president has done since 1988. Spicer responded to a question about Latinos on the Cabinet by pointing to other non-Latino minorities in the Cabinet and arguing against looking at one group rather than diversity in general, which he said will likely be ‘second to none’ under Trump."
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Hooky: NEA urges teachers, students to protest Trump at schools,” from the Washington Examiner: “The National Education Association is urging students and teachers to skip school Thursday to protest the presidency of Donald Trump at school. Promoting a ‘National Day of Action’ on Thursday, the NEA said, ‘On Thursday, January 19, the day before Donald Trump assumes the presidency, thousands of students, parents, educators and community members from across the nation will hold rallies in front of school buildings to inclusively stand up for all students.’ The protests aren't just focused on Trump's education plans, said the NEA in a statement. ‘The rhetoric and ideology of Trump and Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos are deeply troubling. Trump's own words, and the stances his nominees have taken, suggest that his administration will target immigrants, people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, American Muslims, educators, working families, the labor movement, and others in ways that further divide America and fan resentment,’ it warned.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It may rain, it may not rain. I don’t really care,” Trump said of the inaugural ceremony during his dinner speech at Union Station. He cited one advantage to a potential downpour: “People will realize it’s my real hair!”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Al Franken asked Rick Perry during his confirmation hearing, “Did you enjoy meeting me?” Perry replied with a straight face, “I hope you’re as much fun on that dais as you were on that couch.” After the crowd laughed, Perry realized what he’d just said. “May I rephrase that?” he said. “I think we’ve found our ‘Saturday Night Live’ sound bite.” “Oh my lord,” Franken replied. “Let’s move on.” Watch:
Alec Baldwin did a Trump impression during a protest outside Trump Tower last night:
Trump gave a shout out to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) during a luncheon yesterday, joking that the former chairman of the NRSC used to call him asking for large donations:
During the same riff, he pointed to Paul Ryan and declared, "I’m starting to really, really love Paul":
Curious about inauguration security? Former DHS secretary Michael Chertoff broke it down:
Here's how horses prepare for the parade:
Trevor Noah, on "The Daily Show," made fun of Betsy DeVos's rocky confirmation hearing to be secretary of education:
Jimmy Fallon asked viewers who they would like to see at Trump's inauguration:
Conan O'Brien got an invitation:
And Stephen Colbert bid Obama a fond farewell:
Republican talking head Ana Navarro ripped into Trump on CNN last night for excluding Hispanics from his cabinet:
Last but not least, The Post has a cool photo gallery/story about D.C. preparing for Trump, with great pictures by Michael Robinson Chavez and an accompanying story by Ann Gerhart. Check it out here.