Trump takes first official acts at signing ceremony

President Trump performed his first official act as commander in chief on Friday at a signing ceremony attended by members of Congress.

Trump signed a law passed by Congress granting a waiver allowing retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to serve as secretary of Defense. He also signed documents making his Cabinet nominees official, and a document proclaiming a national day of patriotism.

Cable news networks cut to Trump's signing ceremony as former President Obama delivered farewell remarks to staffers before departing Washington for Palm Springs, Calif.

Trump gave each pen he used to sign a formal nomination to one the Democratic and Republican congressional leaders present.

“We’re going to need more pens, OK?” he quipped as Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHouse Ethics Committee informs Duncan Hunter he can no longer vote after guilty plea Duncan Hunter pleads guilty after changing plea Trump campaign steps up attacks on Biden MORE (R-Wis.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats seek leverage for trial Democrats spend big to put Senate in play House Democrats to vote on flavored e-cigarettes ban next year MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerKrystal Ball: Is this how Bernie Sanders will break the establishment? TikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings, inflaming tensions Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments MORE (D-N.Y.) looked on.

Trump tried handing the pen he used for nominating Elaine Chao as Transportation secretary to Pelosi, but she insisted McConnell get it instead. Chao is married to McConnell.

The president at one point needled Pelosi, joking that he should give her the pen he used to formally nominate Scott Pruitt for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator. 

"Here's one that I think Nancy would like ... Scott Pruitt," he said. 

The president also signed the nomination for Rex Tillerson, joking he hoped his choice for secretary of State had already been confirmed.

“This was for Rex,” he said of the former Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO. “I’m assuming he was approved today?”

“It’s coming through — right Chuck?” Ryan asked Schumer to laughter.

Schumer later responded “not that one, no thank you,” when Ryan tried gifting him a pen used to formally nominate Betsy DeVos as Trump’s Education secretary.


The Senate is expected later Friday to confirm three of Trump's nominees: Mattis for Defense, retired Gen. John Kelly for Homeland Security secretary and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) for CIA director.

Lawmakers had to exempt Mattis from a law that requires Defense secretaries to have been out of uniform for at least seven years. The former general retired in 2013.

- This story was updated at 2:17 p.m.