The inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States marked commencement of the four-year term of Donald Trump as President and Mike Pence as Vice President. An estimated 160,000 people attended the public ceremony held on Friday, January 20, 2017 on the West Front of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Along with being the oldest and wealthiest person inaugurated as president, he is the first without prior military or governmental service experience.
The event was the 58th presidential inauguration. The official theme of the event was "Uniquely American". Held in Washington, D.C. from January 17 to 21, 2017, inaugural events included concerts, the swearing-in ceremony, a Congressional luncheon, parade, inaugural balls, and the interfaith inaugural prayer service.
Administered by Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts, the presidential oath was taken by Trump as his first task after becoming president at noon, in keeping with Article Two, Section 1, Clause 8 and the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, with the vice presidential oath taken by Pence and administered by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas immediately preceding it. Trump was sworn in with his left hand on a pair of Bibles, his personal copy and the Lincoln Bible. The inauguration was accompanied by protests in the United States and other countries.
The inauguration marked the formal culmination of the presidential transition of Donald Trump that began when he won the U.S. presidential election on November 8, 2016 and became the President-elect. Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, were formally elected by the Electoral College on December 19, 2016. The win was certified by an electoral vote tally by a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2017.
Upon his inauguration, Trump became the first person to become President without any prior public sector experience. He is also the oldest person to assume the Presidency, as well as the wealthiest. His wife, Melania, is only the second First Lady to be born outside the U.S., after Louisa Adams (who had American descent), First Lady to John Quincy Adams when he assumed the Presidency in 1825.
The inauguration was planned primarily by two committees: the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and the 2017 Presidential Inaugural Committee. The election was scheduled for November 8, 2016, but the congressional committee began construction of the inaugural platform on September 21.
A number of artists who were approached to perform refused, including Jennifer Holliday who was originally intended to perform, but withdrew herself from the program after further consideration.
The swearing-in ceremony and the inaugural luncheon for President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence were planned by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, a committee composed of United States Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, the committee chair, and Senate party leaders Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Chuck Schumer of New York, and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and House party leaders Kevin McCarthy of California and Nancy Pelosi of California. The committee was overseen by the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.
The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies chose the inaugural theme, "Uniquely American", a phrase that was meant to highlight the inaugural ceremony as "a uniquely American expression of our Constitutional system." The theme was also meant to stress the peaceful transition of power, with Americans "united as a people behind an enduring republic", and invoke "Make America Great Again", Trump's campaign slogan and one of the main topics of his inaugural address.
The Inauguration Committee released the full schedule of the January 20 inaugural events on December 21, 2016. Military support to the 58th inauguration was coordinated by Joint Task Force National Capital Region, providing musical military units, marching bands, color guards, ushers, firing details, and salute batteries.
The 2017 Presidential Inaugural Committee organized several other inauguration-related events at the direction of the President‑elect and Vice President‑elect of the United States, such as the concerts, parade, balls and prayer service. The chairman of the committee was Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a real estate investor and longtime Trump friend and ally, and the founder, of Colony Capital. The co-chairs of the committee were Lewis M. Eisenberg and Roy Bailey. Committee members included casino magnates Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, Steve Wynn and Phil Ruffin, oil entrepreneur Harold Hamm, businesswoman Diane Hendricks, coal businessman Joe Craft, Gail Icahn, wife of Carl Icahn, and Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets. The committee reported raising over $100 million for the inauguration from donors.
On Tuesday, January 17, then-President-elect Trump arrived in Washington, D.C. to attend what was titled the "Chairman's Global Dinner," a high-profile dinner that was intended to serve as an introduction between foreign diplomats and the incoming Trump administration officials and appointees. The dinner was black tie and invitation-only, and was described by The Wall Street Journal as the most high-profile event preceding the inauguration, with both Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence addressing the gathering. The event was held at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium. Thomas Barrack, the leading organizer of the inaugural activities, described the dinner as the "first fingerprint on the global canvas of social democracy and outreach."
Rex Tillerson, Trump's choice to succeed John Kerry as Secretary of State, was in attendance, as well as former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and National Security Advisor-designate Michael T. Flynn, and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, according to reporters in attendance at the event. More than 200 foreign diplomats attended the event out of 500 total guests. During his speech to the group, Trump praised his choices thus far for Cabinet positions as well as his choice of Pence as his Vice President. According to The Boston Globe and the Associated Press, the menu included mustard black cod and filet mignon as entrees, and baked Alaska for dessert.
On the morning and afternoon of January 19, a day-long "Voices of the People" public concert was held at the Lincoln Memorial. The concert featured The King's Academy (West Palm Beach, Florida) Honor Choir, the Republican Hindu Coalition, the Montgomery Area High School Marching Band, Marlana Van Hoose, the Maury NJROTC Color Guard, the Pride of Madawaska, Webelos Troop 177, the Northern Middle School Honors Choir, the American Tap Company, the Everett High School Viking Marching Band, the TwirlTasTix Baton Twirling group, and three bagpipe groups.
Trump and Vice President-elect Pence attended a luncheon at Trump's hotel at the Old Post Office Pavilion, and afterwards, the official wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, accompanied by his wife and family. Trump and Pence were escorted by Major General Bradley Becker at the ceremony. The Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place of more than 400,000, mostly members of the armed forces, Medal of Honor recipients, and high ranking political officials.
On the evening of January 19, Trump hosted the "Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration," a concert for his supporters that were attending his inauguration the following day. The concert, held on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, featured performances by Lee Greenwood (who performed "God Bless the USA"), Toby Keith, 3 Doors Down, DJ Ravidrums, The Piano Guys, and The Frontmen of Country (Tim Rushlow, Larry Stewart, and Richie McDonald). Trump addressed his supporters at the end of the festivities, saying that the "forgotten man and the forgotten woman will not be forgotten anymore". Actor Jon Voight also spoke at the event, stating, "We have been witness to a barrage of propaganda that left us all breathless with anticipation, not knowing if God could reverse all the negative lies against Mr. Trump, whose only desire was to make America great again." The concert concluded with a fireworks celebration.
On the morning of the inauguration, on January 20, after staying the night at the Blair House, the traditional house used by the incoming President-elect due to its proximity to the White House, Trump and his wife, Melania, and Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, attended a church service at St. John's Episcopal Church. The tradition dates back to James Madison, with every President since then attending the church service the morning of their inauguration. The service was led by Robert Jeffress, a Southern Baptist minister who campaigned for Trump during the election.
After the church service, Trump and his wife went to the White House to meet with President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. The Obamas greeted the Trumps, and Melania presented the couple with a gift. They then posed for photos in front of the White House press corps. The presentation of a gift was a tradition started by Michelle Obama when she presented George W. Bush and Laura Bush with a gift on the day of her husband's inauguration in 2009. Afterward, they held a tea reception inside the White House, along with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, and Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence. As per tradition, following the meeting between the President and the President-elect, they shared the Presidential motorcade limousine, and made their way to the Capitol for the inaugural ceremony.
Roy Blunt kicked off the inauguration ceremony at 11:41 a.m. with welcoming remarks about the nation's "commonplace and miraculous" tradition of a peaceful transition of power. Three religious figures delivered invocations, followed by the Missouri State University chorale performing an original work, "Now We Belong". After short remarks, Chuck Schumer ended his speech by asking everyone to stand for the swearing-in ceremony.
Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, along with their respective wives, the First Ladies, all planned to attend Trump's inauguration with Carter the first to have accepted and including Clinton's wife and First Lady, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had been Trump's main opponent in the election. George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush did not plan to attend the inauguration due to health reasons. Vice Presidents Joe Biden, Dan Quayle, and Dick Cheney attended with their wives.
At 11:54 a.m, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas swore in Mike Pence as the 48th Vice President of the United States, with Pence's hand on his personal Bible as well as the Bible of Ronald Reagan, the politician who inspired Pence to join the Republican Party. A performance of "America the Beautiful" by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir followed. At noon Trump became the 45th President of the United States, taking the oath of office with Chief Justice John Roberts. Trump was also sworn in using two Bibles, a Bible his mother gifted him and the historic Lincoln Bible. After the swearing-in, the Marine Band performed "Hail to the Chief" and Trump received the traditional 21-gun salute in his honor.
In late December 2016, Trump told visitors that he was writing the first draft of his inaugural address, citing previous inauguration speeches by John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan as inspirations. Trump "insisted publicly that he wrote his own speech," although the Wall Street Journal and others reported that it had been written by Trump senior aides Stephen Miller and Steven Bannon.
The speech struck a tone that was both nationalist and populist. The Los Angeles Times described the address as a "a truncated version of Trump's campaign rally addresses, absent specific policy and big on a sense of anger at what he defined as a ruling class that has raided America for its own benefit." Historians and speechwriters termed the inaugural address as "one of the most ominous" in U.S. history, striking an unusually dark and bleak note. Former President George W. Bush reportedly referred to the speech as "some weird shit" after the ceremony concluded.
Trump pledged to end what he referred to as "American carnage," depicting the United States in a dystopian light—as a "land of abandoned factories, economic angst, rising crime"—while pledging "a new era in American politics."
Fact-checking organizations, such as FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, and the Washington Post's Fact Checker noted that Trump's portrayal of the United States in decline "did not always match reality." The fact-checking organizations noted, among other things, that the U.S. violent crime rate was far below its 1991 peak; that the U.S. economy had gained jobs for 75 consecutive months and that unemployment was significantly below its historical average; and participation in U.S. welfare programs had declined.
In the speech, Trump repeated his campaign-trail "America First" slogan in reference to economic and foreign policy issues. Trump's use of the phrase was controversial because of the slogan's association with U.S. isolationists who had opposed the American entry in World War II. Trump's decision "not to make a strong case for the role of American power in shaping the outside world was a departure from the inaugural addresses of recent Republican presidents from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush," and represented "a sharp break with the internationalist vision of nearly every U.S. president of the past 100 years that troubled veteran foreign policy experts." Nevertheless, Trump's themes on foreign policy appealed "to many Americans as well as to critics of Washington’s bipartisan foreign policy establishment."
Three religious leaders delivered benedictions following Trump's speech, bringing the total number of prayers during the ceremony to six, a record number. Reverend Franklin Graham; Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York; Reverend Dr. Samuel Rodriguez; Pastor Paula White; Rabbi Marvin Hier; and Bishop Wayne T. Jackson gave the benedictions. Jackie Evancho concluded the ceremony with a performance of the U.S. national anthem.
After the inaugural ceremony, President Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence escorted former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama to a departure ceremony on the east side of the U.S. Capitol. The Trumps exchanged remarks and bid farewell to the Obamas at the base of the helicopter that would transport them to Joint Base Andrews, and then returned to the steps of the Capitol building where they waved as the Obama's helicopter took off. Before the luncheon and in keeping with tradition, President Trump signed his first presidential orders in the President's Room at the Capitol, and then signed the guest book for the luncheon.
Next, Trump signed orders to officially present the nominations for his Cabinet and several sub‑Cabinet officials to the Senate for confirmation. His first bill that he signed into law was a waiver of the National Security Act of 1947 granted to him that allowed the nomination of retired General James Mattis to be nominated for the position of United States Secretary of Defense. The National Security Act of 1947 requires a seven-year waiting period before retired military personnel can assume the role of Secretary of Defense. Mattis became only the second Secretary of Defense to receive such a waiver, following George Marshall, who served under President Harry S. Truman. Following in tradition, Trump used various commemorative pens to sign the Cabinet nominations, and distributed them among the lawmakers and guests that had gathered. The pens are traditionally given as a gift to politicians or individuals touched by the action, or were instrumental in its implementation.
Trump also signed a proclamation declaring his inauguration a National Day of Patriotic Devotion. In this he followed Barack Obama, who declared his a National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation, and previous declarations of periods of patriotism by such former presidents as Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
Trump was accompanied at the signing ceremony by his wife, and children, and several of his grandchildren, as well as the chairs of the Joint Congressional Inauguration Committee, including Senators Roy Blunt, Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, and Congressional leaders Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy and Nancy Pelosi. During the ceremony, the lawmakers joked with President Trump, he handed pens to participants (e.g. Elaine Chao's nomination pen to Nancy Pelosi, Trump stating, because "they were both women") and then traded pens in an offer to give, not as an ask to receive (Nancy Pelosi gave Elaine Chao's nomination pen to Chao's husband, Mitch McConnell). The Trumps and Pences then attended an inaugural luncheon at the U.S. Capitol before traveling from there to the presidential reviewing stand at the White House to watch the parade.
As former President and Mrs. Obama began their journey to a vacation in California, the Trumps and Pences joined several congressional guests for the inaugural luncheon in National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. Guests included top Washington lawmakers as well as former presidents and vice presidents. During his formal address at the lunch, Trump asked those in attendance to give Hillary Clinton, his opponent during the 2016 election, a standing ovation.
A luncheon at the U.S. Capitol has been part of the inaugural program since 1953 (before that time, the luncheon was usually held at the White House and hosted by the outgoing President and First Lady). The menu for the 2017 inaugural luncheon, which in the past has often featured dishes representative of the home states of the new President and Vice President, included more traditional dishes from around the country. The first course consisted of Maine lobster and Gulf shrimp with saffron sauce and peanut crumble, accompanied by a J. Lohr 2013 Arroyo Vista Chardonnay. The second dish contained Seven Hills Angus beef in dark chocolate and juniper jus with potato gratin, served with a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and dessert included a chocolate soufflé and cherry vanilla ice cream with California Champagne. Since 1985, a painting has served as a backdrop for the head table. For the 2017 inaugural luncheon, the featured painting was George Caleb Bingham's The Verdict of the People, which depicts a Missouri town and its citizens both celebrating and mourning the election victory of what historians say was a likely proslavery candidate.
Following the luncheon, Trump, Pence, and their wives reviewed an honor guard of troops at the East Front of the U.S. Capitol before beginning the parade. The inaugural parade route ran along Pennsylvania Avenue, NW from the U.S. Capitol, ending at the north face of the White House. During most of the parade, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump traveled in the armored limousine used by the President because of potential security threats. The President and First Lady exited their limousine twice, walking on Pennsylvania Avenue for portions of the parade, a longstanding custom. Vice President Pence and his wife Karen walked the parade route at several points with their children as well.
The parade lasted approximately two hours during the afternoon and early evening following the inaugural ceremony. Parade participants included more than 8,000 people, "representing forty organizations including high school and university marching bands, equestrian corps, first responders, and veterans groups," according to the Joint Congressional Inauguration Committee. Each branch of the United States military was also represented.
Vice President Mike Pence invited several groups from Indiana to march in the parade in the Indiana section, including the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Drill Team, the Culver Military Academy, and the Columbus North High School marching band from Pence's native Columbus, Indiana. Shortly after the parade, Trump went to the Oval Office to sign his first executive orders as president, including an order to start the process of dismantling the Affordable Care Act.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attended three official inaugural balls during the evening of January 20, 2017, titled "Liberty and Freedom: The Official Presidential Inaugural Balls." Donald Trump wore a classic black tuxedo, with a white button up shirt, and a black bow tie, in keeping with tradition. Melania Trump wore a white, off-the-shoulder, sleeveless gown designed by French-American fashion designer Hervé Pierre. Pierre has also designed dresses for First Ladies Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, and he has been styling for Melania Trump for several years. The dress featured a front slit, a ruffled accent and a thin red belt to cinch the waist.
The Liberty Ball, one of two official balls held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, was the first stop of the evening for the President and First Lady. The Trumps danced to their first song, which was chosen to be "My Way" by Frank Sinatra, and was performed by Erin Boheme, an American jazz singer. In an attempt to allow more access to the inaugural balls, the Presidential Inauguration Committee announced that they intended to make the inaugural balls the most affordable in recent history, offering $50 tickets to either the Liberty or Freedom Balls. The second ball that the Trumps attended was the Freedom Ball, also held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, and also featured a first dance to "My Way", as with the Liberty Ball.
The third ball that the President and First Lady attended was the Salute To Our Armed Services Ball, which took place at the National Building Museum. The ball was by invitation only, with free tickets being provided to "active duty and reserve military, Medal of Honor recipients, wounded warriors, military families, veterans, and first responders," according to the Presidential Inauguration Committee. At the beginning of the ball, Trump and his wife, Melania, addressed the crowd of gathered service members, and then spoke via satellite with active duty soldiers in Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Trump thanked the active duty soldiers for the congratulations on his inauguration as Commander-in-chief. Tony Orlando and the Josh Weathers Band performed at the Armed Services Ball.
It is tradition for the President and First Lady, and the Vice President and Second Lady, to dance with military service members during the Armed Services Ball. A cover of the song "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston was performed during the dance. President Trump danced with U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Catherine Cartmell of Newport, Rhode Island. Sgt. Angel Rodriguez, who danced with Second Lady Karen Pence, drew attention for his dancing style, spinning the Second Lady, which provoked playful laughter from Tiffany and Eric Trump. After the dance concluded, President Trump and Vice President Pence used a saber to cut the ceremonial military cake in order to honor the sacrifice and service of the members of the Armed Forces.
On January 21, President Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence gathered at the Washington National Cathedral for a national day of prayer, a tradition dating back to the first President, George Washington. Among the parishioners were more than two dozen religious leaders from a variety of different faiths. Marlana VanHoose, a 20-year-old vocalist who was born with cytomegalovirus, performed at the ceremony, singing "How Great Thou Art". Melania Trump was visibly emotional during the performance, and led a standing ovation for her after she finished performing. The service began with call to prayer by the Reverend Rosemarie Duncan, Mikhail Manevich, a Jewish cantor, and Mohamed Magid, a Muslim imam. The clergy spoke of both compassion and diversity.
The US Park Service does not publish crowd estimates about events at the National Mall. Overhead imagery and statistics on public transportation ridership from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), which operates Metrorail, are therefore used to estimate crowd sizes.
The WMATA reported that 193,000 passengers rode the Metro before 11 a.m. on the day of Trump's inauguration, and 570,557 passengers during the entire day, noting that it was lower than the average weekday ridership of 639,000 passengers. USA Today reported on "a notable number" of empty seats along the parade route.
Crowd counting experts cited by The New York Times estimated that about 160,000 people were in the National Mall areas in the hour leading up to Trump's speech. It is estimated that as many as 1.8 million people attended Obama's 2009 inauguration – which set a record for the total number of people in the National Mall at any one given time, and which marked the inauguration of the nation's first African American president. CNN provided a gigapixel panorama of the area.
Nielsen ratings showed that TV viewership of the inauguration in the US was 30.6 million, more than Obama's second inauguration in 2013 (20.6 million), but less than Obama's first inauguration in 2009 (38 million) and Reagan's first in 1981 (42 million). Trump's inauguration became the most streamed Twitter video during the site's decade long history with more than 6.8 million views.
In a press conference on January 21, Sean Spicer, Trump's White House Press Secretary, stated that the crowd "was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe", and accused the media of reporting false crowd estimates to "lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration". Spicer also stated that 420,000 people rode the Metro on the day of Trump's inauguration, and that only 317,000 rode on the day of Obama's. In fact, 570,557 Metro trips were taken on the day of Trump's inauguration, compared to 1.1 million on Obama's 2009 inauguration day and 782,000 on Obama's 2013 inauguration day. Ridership at 11 a.m. was 193,000, 513,000 and 317,000 respectively.
Numerous sources highlighted the fact that Spicer's statements were incorrect, and many accused him of intentionally misstating the figures. In response, Donald Trump's counselor and spokesperson, Kellyanne Conway, in an interview with NBC's Chuck Todd, stated that Spicer merely presented "alternative facts". Todd responded by saying "alternative facts are not facts. They're falsehoods."
On January 23, Spicer admitted his error concerning WMATA ridership levels, stating that he was relying on statistics given to him, but he stood by his claim that the inauguration was the most-viewed, stating he also included online viewership in addition to in-person and television in his estimates. Spicer's claim of the largest audience ever was still shown inaccurate as Nielsen reported 30.6 million viewers across 12 networks while Obama had 37.8 million and Ronald Reagan 41.8 million. As for online viewership, Spicer himself cited a figure of 16.9 million livestreams provided by CNN. However, CNN served nearly 27 million streams in 2009 for Obama's inauguration.
The incoming administration briefly shut down the Interior Department's Twitter accounts. The National Park Service's official Twitter account had re-tweeted two Tweets on "omissions on policy areas" on the White House website and Trump's and Obama's crowd sizes. An NPS spokesman issued an apology for "mistaken RTs."
On the morning following the inauguration, Trump telephoned acting National Park Service director Michael T. Reynolds and personally directed him to produce additional aerial photographs of the Inauguration Day crowds. Reynolds and the Park Service complied with the directive; the additional photos, however, "did not prove Trump’s contention that the crowd size was upward of 1 million."
As of mid-December, there were 20 requests for demonstration permits for Donald J. Trump's inauguration, including Bikers for Trump, and the Women's March on Washington, scheduled for the day after inauguration day. Supported by nearly 200 activist groups and organizations, and drawing an estimated three times as many participants as the inauguration, the Women's March demonstrated on racial and gender equality, affordable healthcare, abortion rights and voting rights.
Protests occurred during the inauguration ceremonies in Washington, D.C. The vast majority of protesters, several thousand in all, were peaceful. Disrupt J20 protesters linked arms at security checkpoints and attempted to shut them down. Some elements of the protesters were black bloc groups and self described anarchists, and engaged in sporadic acts of vandalism, rioting, and violence. At least 217 were arrested and six police officers sustained minor injuries, and at least one other person was injured.
67 Democratic U.S. Representatives declined to attend Trump's inauguration, citing "what they described as his alarming and divisive policies, foreign interference in his election and his criticism of civil rights icon John Lewis, a congressman from Georgia". Of the 67 boycotting, almost all came from congressional districts won by Hillary Clinton; many of these are safe Democratic seats.
There were 16.63 million viewers of Trump taking the oath of office and giving his inaugural address on the three major cable news networks Fox, CNN, and MSNBC. The number of viewers for Obama in 2009 was more at 17.06 million and in 2013 less at 6.73 million. According to Nielsen data, there were 30.64 million people who viewed Trump's inauguration on the 12 networks that covered it live. The number of viewers for bama's 2009 inauguration on the 18 networks that covered it live was more at 37.8 million. At Obama's 2013 inauguration, it was less at 20.55 million.
The agency still estimates crowd size for its own planning purposes, but does not publicly reveal the figures.
"No matter what we said or did, no one ever felt we gave a fair estimate," U.S. Park Police Maj. J.J. McLaughlin, who had been in charge of coordinating crowd estimates, said in 1996 when the agency confirmed it would no longer count heads.
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