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History Provides Trump a Guide for His Inaugural Address
Changes in party rule show how presidents both praise and criticize

An aide to President-elect Donald Trump, seen here at a news conference on Jan. 11 at Trump Tower in New York City, says his inaugural address will be “unique to him.” (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Newly sworn-in American presidents taking over for a predecessor of another political party have employed a number of rhetorical approaches from which Donald Trump could choose to borrow on Friday. Trump has met with historians and watched past inaugural addresses, but a top aide said his first speech as president will be “unique to him.”

Given the unprecedented tone of both his campaigning style and brash tenor during the transition period, anything is possible when the new president steps to the podium bearing the seal of the president around noon Friday. It is a safe bet some or most of Trump’s address will sound much different than those delivered in the past. 

A Ceremony of Stability for a Shake-It-Up President
Inaugurals are meant to unify the nation, a fundamental Trump challenge

Since his election, President-elect Donald Trump has not backed away from his headline-grabbing approach of responding to every perceived slight with a combative brickbat, Hawkings writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

No ritual embodies the stability of the American government more than an inauguration. And no one in modern times has arrived for the ceremony as a more purposeful destabilizer of governing norms than Donald John Trump, who becomes the 45th president of the United States on Friday.

The inaugural is this country’s ultimate civic rite, designed to assure the orderly transfer of enormous power, bolster patriotism and bind together a diverse people behind their new leader. The pageantry of the day, in so many ways fundamentally unchanged since the 18th century, almost cannot help but imbue each new holder of the office with similar auras of credibility and historic import.

The More Inaugurations Change, the More They Stay the Same
Even the ‘Champagne’ will be the same

The media camped out in the Rotunda and watched President Barack Obama’s inauguration speech on monitors as they wait for the President to arrive for the luncheon in Statuary Hall on Jan. 21, 2013. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Charlie Brotman won’t be announcing the inauguration parade for the first time since President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Jackie Evancho will be performing the national anthem instead of Beyonce. 

But the logistics of the scene in Washington on Friday when President-elect Donald Trump takes the oath of office might be more like past years than would meet the eye.

Pence Will be First to Use Reagan’s Bible for Swearing-in
It's traveling with a former Reagan staffer from Reagan Library in California

Traveling to Washington for Mike Pence’s swearing-in will be Ronald Reagan’s Bible’s first trip outside the Reagan Library. (Courtesy Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute)

Vice President-elect Mike Pence says it’s “humbling” to be sworn into office using President Ronald Reagan’s family Bible. Its caretaker says it took some courage to ask to use it.

“No one’s ever had the courage, I guess, until this point to make an ask for it,” John Heubusch, executive director of the Reagan Library, said Wednesday.

Barack Obama Has Left the Building, Or At Least the Brady Room
Obama's hope fades a bit: 'I think we’re going to be OK'

At his final news conference as president, Obama wished the press, and the country, luck. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In his final press conference as president, Barack Obama warned that economic and other forces could further divide Americans, and sent messages anew to Donald Trump, particularly that he could re-enter the political arena if “our core values may be at stake.”

Less than 48 hours before he will cede all powers of the presidency to Trump, the 55-year-old Obama, with more salt than pepper atop his head, showed flashes of the optimistic candidate who toppled both Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., during the 2008 presidential campaign. But by the end of the session, his concerns about the next four years appear to show through.

44 Sitting Members of Congress Have Accepted Donations From Trump
Group includes prominent lawmakers from both parties

Arizona Sen. John McCain, whom President-elect Donald Trump once criticized, has received the most donations of any current lawmaker from Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Much has been said about how Vice President-elect Mike Pence, with his 12 years as a congressman, could be incoming President Donald Trump’s bridge to Congress. But Trump has his own ties to the Hill, in the form of nearly two decades worth of political contributions to sitting members of the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle.

Trump has donated to the campaigns of 44 current members of Congress, according to a Roll Call review of Federal Election Commission electronic records that are available since 1997. Nineteen of those members are in the Senate, and 25 are in the House.

Senators to Watch as Trump Era Begins
Rank-and-file senators likely to be key players in 115th Congress

Georgia Sen. David Perdue, left, and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III are both senators to watch. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans may have full control in Washington, but the Senate remains the Senate, which means it’s the place where rank-and-file Democrats and Republicans retain the most clout and potential for influence. Here are the key senators from outside of the top echelons of the leadership structures to watch as the 115th Congress gets underway.

The moderate from Maine will be the first person to watch on any contentious votes, particularly on budget reconciliation votes that aim to repeal parts of the 2010 health care law. She has, for instance, been among the small number of Republicans opposing efforts to tie the GOP health care plans to stopping federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

House Republican Women See a Boost in Authority
3 committees, other powerful posts newly under control of 21-person caucus

Texas Rep. Kay Granger is the new chairwoman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, which drives the allocation of more than half a trillion dollars annually to the military. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For the past four years, Republicans endured pointed barbs about how the only woman with a House committee gavel was presiding over the fittingly sexist-sounding “housekeeping committee,” the Hill’s nickname for the panel overseeing the Capitol’s internal operations.

That’s not a fair jape anymore. Exactly a century after the arrival of the first female elected to Congress, Jeannette Rankin of Montana, her GOP successors will be wielding more titular power in the Republican-run House than ever. Women will soon be presiding over three standing committees, a record for the party, while a fourth has taken over what’s arguably the chamber’s single most consequential subcommittee, because it takes the lead in apportioning more than half of all discretionary federal spending.

House Freshmen to Watch
115th Congress provides a platform for ambitious new members

Kihuen, left, comes to Congress with a record of success in Nevada, and the blessing of former Sen. Harry Reid. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Not all freshmen are created equal.

While there is always a learning curve for new members of the House, some of the newly elected come to the institution with an enhanced profile. This could be because they are former statewide officeholders, or perhaps scored a big one for the team by knocking off a longtime incumbent. Maybe they are natural leaders or their ambitions are such that they are already looking at other federal offices. 

Trump vs. Lewis: A Question of Character
The difference between being a character — and having it

Georgia Rep. John Lewis stands on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., on Feb. 14, 2015. Lewis was beaten by police on the bridge on "Bloody Sunday," March 7, 1965, during an attempted march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When we think of Rep. John Lewis on a bus, it is as a teenage “Freedom Rider,” putting his own life at risk in order to form a more perfect union. When we think of Donald Trump on a bus, it is as a boorish billionaire, musing about sexually assaulting women.

When we think of Lewis and racial politics, it is in the context of waking America’s conscience to the civil, voting and housing rights denied to citizens because of the color of their skin. When we think of Trump and racial politics, it is in the context of denying housing to citizens based on the color of their skin, fomenting white nationalism and seeking ways to discriminate against Muslims without running afoul of the First Amendment.