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Mix Of People Show Up For Inaugural; Obama Leaves Oval Office Behind


And I'm David Greene on this morning of the presidential inauguration. The rain was falling here in Washington, D.C., although it appears to have stopped for now. There are throngs of supporters of President-elect Donald Trump who are filling in the mall with view of the Capitol. There are also pockets of protesters around the city. This group of organizers is from Black Lives Matter.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Chanting) Black lives - they matter. Hear?

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Black lives - they matter. Hear?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Chanting) Black lives - they matter. Hear?

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Black lives - they matter. Hear?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Chanting) Black lives - they matter. Hear?


OK. We're going to take you down to the National Mall now. NPR's own Jennifer Ludden is there talking with supporters and protesters. Jennifer, just describe where you're at right now.

JENNIFER LUDDEN, BYLINE: Hey, Rachel. I am at the corner of 4th Street right on the mall, looking at the Capitol. And we are with supporters. I have Manuel Aguinaga here, who came down - woke up at 3 o'clock in the morning to come down from Newark, Del., with his father and sons. Can I introduce you to him?

MARTIN: Please, yeah.

MANUEL AGUINAGA: Hi. How you doing?

LUDDEN: So tell us what brought you down here so early today.

AGUINAGA: Well, we came to be part of history. I mean, this is the first time that we are able to attend a presidential inauguration. So it is very important for us to see a hope and a change in this country.

LUDDEN: Now, you told me you actually came to the U.S. in 2008 from Ecuador...


LUDDEN: ...Because...

AGUINAGA: Well - because, unfortunately, my country ended up taking a different government, which was - ended up changing our politics back home, ended up becoming - taking the same route as Venezuela.

LUDDEN: Socialism.

AGUINAGA: Socialism. So for...

LUDDEN: So Donald Trump appealed to you very early on.

AGUINAGA: Oh, yes - yes, since the beginning, since 2012, when he was planning to run for president. And then he ended up backing out before the nominations.

LUDDEN: And what are you looking forward to mostly when you talk about change? What'll you be looking for?

AGUINAGA: What I look more is first - like, I am a small business owner. So I am looking for tax relief, like, somebody that will help us with taxes, decrease a little bit of the taxes. I mean, right now, as a small business owner, we paid a lot of money in taxes. So that can help us - that can give us the opportunity to increase our business - like, to become - to be able to expand our business.

LUDDEN: You told me you were not able to vote yet. You're still a permanent resident, not a citizen. But your father did vote for Trump.

AGUINAGA: Yes, my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, which - they have been living in this country for over 20 years.

LUDDEN: Now, some people, you said to me, may question, you know, the fact that you're a Latino who supports Donald Trump.

AGUINAGA: Exactly. Yes. A lot of people - they are surprised. And they usually - when they ask me my political view, they get very surprised that, as a Latino, I am supporting Donald Trump. Like I mentioned to you before, I am a legal Latino. I came legally to this country. I waited 10 years to be able to come as a resident. And I am in the process of becoming a citizen. So I should be a citizen in the next two or three months.

LUDDEN: OK. Are you excited today?

AGUINAGA: Oh, yeah. I'm really excited. This is, like I said, like history for me. It's very emotional - very emotional.

LUDDEN: All right. You're going to watch the festivities. And then you're going to head back home to your restaurant tonight.

AGUINAGA: Yes, exactly. I have to be working tonight (laughter).

LUDDEN: A long day.


LUDDEN: Well, thank you so very much.

AGUINAGA: Well, thank you. Thank you.

LUDDEN: Take care.


LUDDEN: Hey, Rachel.

MARTIN: Yeah. That was great.

LUDDEN: So very happy people here.


LUDDEN: There's a - it's a mixed crowd, I will say.

MARTIN: Yeah. Lots of differing opinions down there - but it's nice to hear Miguel's story. We could also point out we could hear some singing in the background. The choirs are starting to sing.

GREENE: Sounds beautiful, yeah.

MARTIN: The festivities are getting kicked off into high gear. NPR's Jennifer Ludden. Thank you so much, Jennifer.

LUDDEN: The choirs are better than the loud music they've been playing.


GREENE: The music is improving.

LUDDEN: People are anxious for the real ceremony (laughter).

MARTIN: Yeah, to be sure. Thank you so much, Jennifer. And we're going to bring in NPR's Scott Horsley now, who has a really fascinating vantage point. He is sitting in the White House as we anticipate this historic transition. Hi, Scott.


MARTIN: How's it feel there right now?

HORSLEY: Well, we're in sort of a period of suspended animation. But Donald and Melania Trump have just left St. John's Church, which is about a block away from the White House, and are going to be making their way over here. There are some photographers set up on the South Portico of the White House there to see the president-elect's arrival. And a moment ago, they trained their long lenses on the Oval Office. And we saw President Obama walk into the Oval Office, bend over to slip something into the drawer of the Resolute desk, presumably the traditional note to his successor.

GREENE: Oh, wow. You could actually see that on camera.

MARTIN: Yeah. I happened to catch that on TV. It was amazing. I also noted, Scott, that as that was happening, the president had to jockey around a ladder...


MARTIN: ...That was in the Oval Office because they are - they're working to make this move quickly.

HORSLEY: That's right. You know, we call this the peaceful transfer of power. But it's a very animated transfer of power at the White House.

GREENE: What is the ladder, Scott? Is that, like, redesigning the Oval Office already? What is...

HORSLEY: There's a ladder up, presumably, to move some of the artwork or maybe do some touch-up painting during this brief window of time.

GREENE: Very brief.

HORSLEY: The swearing-in ceremony and the parade give a few hours for the household staff to make over this White House in this sort of lightning renovation to make it feel like home to the new occupants.

GREENE: That note, Scott - I mean, we're never going to know what's in that note, I guess, unless...

HORSLEY: Well, we may.

GREENE: Maybe Donald Trump will say. But...

HORSLEY: It's become more common now to see those notes. They're very much a private communication from one president to the next. But they've also become public now. We've seen the note, for example, that George W. Bush left for President Obama eight years ago and the president that George H.W. Bush left for Bill Clinton, who, of course, had defeated him in his own bid - and a very gracious note. So we may see that.

And just now, we're seeing Vice President Pence arriving at the South Portico of the White House, being greeted by - Vice President-elect Pence being greeted by Vice President Biden. And their wives are there. The presidents and vice presidents and their wives will all get together for coffee or tea before making the motorcade together up to the Capitol to witness the swearing in and the exchange of power.

MARTIN: You know, I happened to notice on Twitter Paul Ryan actually tweeted out that he was joining that coffee. And I didn't know if that was normal for the speaker of the House to do so, or if that was exceptional to be some kind of conversational buffer in what could be an awkward conversation.

HORSLEY: I think it is exceptional but not so much as a conversational buffer but maybe just as a gesture by the incoming president to include the man he hopes will be his partner on the Capitol.


HORSLEY: You know, what is remarkable, I think, given the acrimony of the campaign season, is just how unawkward these meetings have been.

MARTIN: Yeah, yeah.

HORSLEY: And, certainly, President Obama has gone out of his way to execute...

MARTIN: To try to make that happen.

HORSLEY: ...A peaceful transfer.

GREENE: Peaceful transition of power. All right.

MARTIN: NPR's Scott Horsley from the White House. Thank you so much, Scott.

GREENE: Thanks, Scott.

HORSLEY: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.