President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence presided over a formal ceremony Sunday to swear in about two dozen senior White House aides, including Chief of Staff Reince Preibus, national security adviser Michael T. Flynn and senior advisers Stephen K. Bannon, Kellyanne Conway and Jared Kushner.
As White House staff, the aides do not need to be confirmed by the Senate.
The event in the East Room took on a giddy family vibe, as Trump’s grown children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, Eric and Tiffany, were in the audience to support Kusher, who is married to Ivanka. Family of the other top aides were arrayed on rows of chairs in the stately East Room, as Trump and Pence took the podium under large portraits of George and Martha Washington. Kushner’s father, Charles, a New York real estate broker, and brother, Josh, were also in attendance, as was Treasury Secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin, a founding partner of Goldman Sachs.
While waiting for the event to start, one of Trump’s grandchildren spilled a handful of Skittles on the ground, and Josh Kushner gamely jumped up to help scoop them up. Ivanka Trump juggled her son on her lap. Omarosa Manigault, the former reality television personality who has been named to help with White House public engagement, hobbled in with a brace on her left ankle and foot.
When someone asked Mnuchin when Congress might vote on his nomination, he replied: “Hopefully, next week.”
The president opened his remarks by holding up a piece of paper and explaining that it was a personal note from President Barack Obama. “It was really very nice of him to do that,” Trump said, “and we will cherish that. We will keep that, and we won’t even tell the press what’s in that letter.”
Trump spoke of a busy first two days, saying he had set up separate bilateral meetings with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. During his campaign, Trump had been sharply critical of the North American Free Trade Agreement signed in 1994 between the United States and those two countries, saying the agreement harmed U.S. jobs. He has vowed to renegotiate the treaty.
“We’re going to start renegotiating on NAFTA, on immigration and on security at the border,” Trump told the crowd. “And Mexico has been terrific actually, terrific, and the president (Peña Nieto) has been really very amazing, and I think we’re going to have a very good result for Mexico, for the United States, for everybody involved.”
Trump then predicted he’ll enjoy a long presidency, saying that with the help of those in the audience, “we are going to do some great things over the next eight years. Eight years.”
After his remarks, Pence administered the oath, as the aides stood, raised their right hands and recited their lines. Then the president exchanged hugs with several of his senior aides, including an embrace of Kushner.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · David Nakamura, John Wagner