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Inauguration Day: Peaceful Transition Of Power


And on this morning of the presidential inauguration, we're joined in the studio by NPR's Scott Detrow. Scott, just make this a habit. We like you being here.



SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Happy to be here anytime.

GREENE: (Laughter) We like you being here. And also on the line, our colleague Jennifer Ludden, who is out on the streets of Washington as things are getting going. Jennifer, are you there?


GREENE: Hey, where exactly are you?

LUDDEN: I am at the beautiful Navy Memorial, not far from the Trump Hotel right along the parade route and right inside a security checkpoint where people are slowly trickling in. It is quite a thorough check, I will say. And there are lots and lots of police and National Guard. I saw some Virginia State Police - a lot of security out here so far.

GREENE: And are people cold, excited, both?

LUDDEN: You know, it's a quiet happiness. So we had, like, a half-hour walk along here and passed several checkpoints. And there were, I would say, dozens to maybe a couple hundred people waiting already at 0-dark-hundred here at every checkpoint...

GREENE: Oh-dark-hundred, that's very military, I like that.

LUDDEN: Oh-dark-hundred (laughter) - families, you know, college students. Yeah, I spoke with a father and son who'd come down from Philadelphia. The son is a freshman in college. He's about to start a Conservative club. They were Ted Cruz supporters to begin with, but they feel happy that Donald Trump is elected. His father, used to teach high school, feels this is an educational opportunity.

And so they're down here to check it out and take in all the pageantry.

GREENE: Very cool. Was the weather holding up? There's all this talk of rain.

LUDDEN: You know, so far it's pretty nice.

GREENE: All right, stay with us. Stay with us.

LUDDEN: Dry and not too cold.

GREENE: Yeah, we might want to talk to you some more.

MARTIN: OK, stay with us, Jennifer. But let's turn to Scott Detrow, who's still in the studio with us. Scott, let's get an update on where the Cabinet is at this moment. As Donald Trump prepares to take the oath of office, does he have his people in place?

DETROW: He has finally named his full Cabinet. He named Sonny Perdue as his nominee for agriculture secretary just a few days ago. That was the last spot we hadn't filled. We're expecting two confirmations today at least. And that's James Mattis for secretary of defense and John Kelly for homeland security. Other Cabinet nominees might take some time to be confirmed by the Senate, though.

MARTIN: Also can you just take a moment to tell us about this tradition that happens? When the outgoing president leaves, they write a letter - right? - to the incoming president. Do we expect Barack Obama to do the same thing?

DETROW: Yeah, yeah, we do. And it's a really nice tradition. In fact, the National Archives just released yesterday George W. Bush's letter to Obama and Bill Clinton's letter to George W. Bush. They typically say, you know, you're inheriting a big job with a lot of responsibilities, but I'll be with you, the American people will be with you, we're rooting for you and praying for you.

That's kind of the general tone. It's a very nice, positive tradition.

MARTIN: Do we still have Jennifer on the line? Can we bring her back into the conversation?

LUDDEN: Hi, Rachel.

MARTIN: Hey, Jennifer. I'm just wondering if you've had conversations with people - I know they're excited about the moment. But has anyone gotten kind of big picture with you to talk about the significance, the kind of change they want to see in the country with this election?

LUDDEN: Yes, people like change. You know, one person works with small farmers. He says they feel very optimistic. Some people really were, you know, are excited about Trump the man and others just about the sense of change. Although one person, you know, kind of gave off a little bit of sense of apprehension. He said, I would just like to get through the first hundred days.

And, you know, like, it's this sense of uncertainty. Like, he's like, you don't know what's going to happen. You don't know what he's going to tweet. He's like, I think he should...


LUDDEN: ...Probably stop tweeting. But then again, you wouldn't have told someone a long time ago to not use the telegraph (laughter). It is the modern means of communication.

GREENE: That's a very good point. That is a very good point.

MARTIN: Which is what Donald Trump has said, right? It's a modern form of communication. Although, Scott, there have been surveys done. Americans right now, they don't really love his Twitter habit.

DETROW: Yeah, that's true. And I think we're seeing that in surveys and also in a lot of interviews. Even his biggest supporters say maybe he should tone down the Twitter just a little bit in terms of the reactionary tweets as well. We have seen some reports that he might have gotten that new secure phone that a president has already. Maybe that'll change his Twitter habits.

GREENE: So he's going to be using that to tweet? I mean, I guess he has no choice once he's president.

DETROW: Unclear - I don't know if a presidential phone includes Twitter.

GREENE: (Laughter).

DETROW: I think - we did do some stories with security experts saying that kind of having that app on the phone kind of opens it up to penetrations. So that might not be the case. He might have to log into his computer...

GREENE: It's so interesting because...

DETROW: ...Or dictate the tweet to somebody else.

GREENE: Oh, that's an option. And covering tweets has been a whole new thing for political reporters.

DETROW: It is something we have worked on and tried to perfect over the last year and especially the last few months as big, major announcements and policy pronouncements, even up to nuclear policy, have come on Twitter.

GREENE: On Twitter. All right, NPR's Scott Detrow, stay with us in the studio. NPR's Jennifer Ludden, thanks so much. And stay warm out there, Jennifer.

LUDDEN: Will do. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.
Jennifer Ludden helps edit energy and environment stories for NPR's National Desk, working with NPR staffers and a team of public radio reporters across the country. They track the shift to clean energy, state and federal policy moves, and how people and communities are coping with the mounting impacts of climate change.