Trump Urged by Clergy to Embrace Compassion as Protests Unfold

  • Only two of his nominees have been confirmed by the Senate
  • President signs Obamacare order within hours of taking office

President Trump Signs Obamacare Executive Order

Donald Trump began his first full day in office Saturday at a prayer service in Washington where pastors of many faiths urged him to embrace peace and compassion, as tens of thousands of women gathered across town on the National Mall to protest his presidency.

“Look with compassion, O heavenly Father, upon the widowed and orphans, outcasts and refugees, prisoners, and all who are in danger, that they may find you and be comforted," Anthony Vance, director of public affairs at the United States Baha’i Community, read during the service at the National Cathedral, a U.S. post-inaugural tradition dating to George Washington.

Trump will travel in the afternoon to CIA headquarters to meet with intelligence agents, his press secretary, Sean Spicer, said on Twitter. He’ll be accompanied by his National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, and his nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, Representative Mike Pompeo, two people familiar with the matter said.

Trump’s relationship with the intelligence community is strained after he publicly criticized its leaders for announcing that the U.S. had determined the Russian government was responsible for hacking Democratic Party officials’ e-mail accounts during the presidential campaign.

‘Over Capacity’

Spicer tweeted that the CIA “event is over capacity.”

"Excited to thank the men and women of the intelligence community," he said.

Trump vowed to bring swift change to Washington in a fiery inaugural address, but that promise is colliding with the reality that only two members of his Cabinet cleared the Senate by the end of his first day in office. 

Unlike his predecessors Barack Obama and George W. Bush -- who each had seven of their cabinet members confirmed on Inauguration Day -- Trump saw votes only for Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. Other nominees are held up by paperwork delays and partisan fights in the Senate. 

Executive Order

Even so, six hours after taking the oath of office Trump made clear he wouldn’t wait to act on top priorities. He signed an order Friday declaring his intent to repeal Obamacare and instructing federal agencies to "minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens" of the 2010 health-care law.

He began his day Saturday at the prayer service, where Trump sat in the front pew with his wife, Melania. He was accompanied by other family members including his daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, White House adviser Jared Kushner.

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, also attended.

Twenty-six religious leaders, primarily representing different Christian denominations, participated in the service. Islamic, Jewish, and Navajo religious leaders also spoke.

At the National Mall, mostly women protesters from across the country poured off tour buses and the city’s subway system, Metro, which said at 11 a.m. New York time that it had seen 275,000 riders -- 82,000 more than at the same time on Friday.

Combative Address

Trump opened his presidency with a combative inaugural address aimed at his populist political base and by painting a dire portrait of the nation’s circumstances: a place of violent "American carnage" where "rusted-out factories" are "scattered like tombstones" and the middle class’s wealth is "ripped from their homes."

He promised an unapologetic nationalism of "only America first, America first."

In the evening, Trump and his wife, Melania, began a round of three inaugural balls.

"People that weren’t so nice to me were saying we did a really good job today," Trump said at the Liberty ball, before dancing on stage with Melania to a rendition of Frank Sinatra’s "My Way."

"You’re going to be so happy," he said to supporters. "We want to make America great again. We’re not going to be playing games. We’re going to be producing results."

The new president enters office with historically low approval ratings -- 40 percent according to Gallup. He and his party in Congress already are at odds, especially on the issue of the Russian government’s role in electing him. Financial markets, which soared immediately following his election, have recently cooled.

Trump’s confrontational tone was echoed by tensions in the streets of Washington and Inauguration Day protest marches that erupted in sporadic violence. At least 217 protesters were arrested and six police officers sustained minor injuries Friday, according to local officials. Windows were shattered at a McDonald’s Corp. restaurant, a Starbucks Corp. coffee shop, and several office buildings and a limousine was set on fire outside the Washington Post’s headquarters.

— With assistance by Toluse Olorunnipa, Justin Sink, Shannon Pettypiece, and Margaret Talev

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