"I want to emphasize to you, Mr. President-elect, that we now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed -- because if you succeed, then the country succeeds," Obama said to Trump.
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump pledged to work together after their first-ever meeting Thursday, starting a transition between their administrations that will end when Trump is sworn into office Jan. 20, 2017.
The men met in the Oval Office for 90 minutes, and had a conversation that Obama described as “wide ranging,” encompassing organizational issues in setting up the White House, foreign policy and domestic policy.
“I want to emphasize to you, Mr. President-elect, that we now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed – because if you succeed, then the country succeeds,” Obama said to Trump, echoing an address he’d given the day before.
Obama has instructed his staff to provide a professional and smooth transition for Trump’s team despite the abundance of policy disagreements, just as President George W. Bush did for him.
Trump called the meeting an “honor” and said that he looks “forward to being with [Obama] many, many more times in the future.” He noted that the meeting was set to last 10 or 15 minutes, but stretched into an hour and a half. “We were just going to get to know each other,” he said.
The show of cordiality and respect followed a bitter presidential campaign that ended in a surprising Trump victory.
Trump rose to political prominence by questioning Obama’s birthplace and therefore his legitimacy to serve as president. Obama has called Trump “unfit to serve as president.” Obama also has said that Trump should not be trusted with the nuclear codes and that his campaign represented an existential threat to democracy.
Obama isn’t now walking back these statements, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday, but rather listening to the will of the people.
“The president’s views haven’t changed. He stands by what he said on the campaign trail,” Earnest said.
“He had an opportunity to make his argument. He made that argument vigorously. He made that argument in states all across the country. But the American people decided. The election is over. The president didn’t get to choose his successor, the American people did. And they have chosen President-elect Trump. And President Obama is determined to preside over a transition that gives the incoming president the opportunity to get a running start.”
During the meeting of the president and the president-to-be, Melania Trump met separately with first lady Michelle Obama.