Trump tells supporters he will make US ‘greater than ever’

Washington in heightened state of alert as pro and anti supporters descend on capital

President-elect Donald Trump made an appearance at a candlelight dinner for donors in Union Station, Washington D.C. promising "four incredible years" and bragging about his surprise November victory.

 

A jubilant US president-elect Donald Trump promised change and to make America “greater than ever before” on the eve of his official inauguration as the 45th president of the United States.

The incoming Republican president, who will be sworn in as president today, made his remarks on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during a “Make America Great Again! Welcome Concert” on the first day of his inauguration celebrations.

Addressing a crowd of supporters overshadowed by the famous statue of President Abraham Lincoln and near the spot where Martin Luther King Jr delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech, Mr Trump claimed that his campaign was a “movement like we’ve never seen anywhere in the world.”

“It’s something very, very special. And we’re going to unify our country. And our phrase, you all know it. Half of you are wearing the hat - ‘Make America Great Again,’” he said to cheers from his supporters.

Mr Trump’s swearing-in at the US Capitol today will mark the culmination of an unlikely and extraordinary rise to power for the property developer and television celebrity who was ridiculed when he first launched his campaign. He eventually saw off 16 other candidates to win the Republican presidential nomination and beat the clear favourite Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November 8th election.

Taking the oath, he will say: “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.”

‘I’m just the messenger’

“So this journey began 18 months ago. I had something to do with it, but you had much more to do with it than I did,” he told the crowd gathered next to Washington’s majestic reflecting pool.

“I’m the messenger. I’m just the messenger… We all got tired of seeing what was happening and we wanted change. But we wanted real changed. And I look so forward to tomorrow. We’re going to see something that is going to be amazing.”

After driving from the White House to the Capitol with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama this morning, Mr Trump will be sworn in as by the US Chief Justice John Roberts shortly before 12 noon (5pm Irish time). He will then deliver his inaugural address, attend a congressional lunch and inauguration parade before getting down to the business of running the country on Monday.

The businessman will be the first individual to be elected to the White House without having prior experience in public office or served as a leader in the military.

Heightened security

Washington has been in a state of heightened alert with 28,000 police, law enforcement and military personnel on patrol as tens of thousands of Trump supporters and anti-Trump protesters descend on the city for the inauguration and demonstrations including tomorrow’s Women’s March on Washington.

Demonstrators clashed with police outside the National Press Club building in the downtown area on Thursday night as protesters set off smoke devices and projected images onto the buildings. They gathered outside the DeploraBall, one of the black-tie inaugural balls being held in the city.

After his welcome concert, the first public event of the three-day inauguration weekend, Mr Trump attended a dinner across the city at Union Station with donors, cabinet nominees and members of Congress. In a speech to guests, Mr Trump jokingly dismissed the forecast of rain for his swearing-in today, saying that if it pours it would at least prove to people that it was “my real hair.”

“It may rain, it may not rain. It doesn’t matter. I don’t care,” Mr Trump said.

“If it really pours, that’s okay because people will realise it’s my real hair and that’s okay. It might be a mess, but they’re going to see that it’s my real hair.”