Obama Hosts President-Elect Donald Trump At The White House

Nov 10, 2016
Originally published on November 11, 2016 12:46 pm
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Today in Washington President Obama and President-elect Donald Trump tried to put a friendly face on the transfer of power. The two men met at the White House to begin mapping out the transition. Despite their deep policy differences and a history of hostility, both men described the meeting in positive terms. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Donald Trump says he only expected a quick get-acquainted meeting with the president, but the sit down in the Oval Office stretched for 90 minutes. No aides were present, just the president and the man who will take his place.

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DONALD TRUMP: We discussed a lot of different situations, some wonderful and some difficulties.

HORSLEY: Obama said it was an excellent conversation covering both foreign and domestic policy. The two men also spent a good deal of time talking about how to organize a White House staff.

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PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: 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.

HORSLEY: This was the first time Obama and Trump had actually talked to each other face to face, but they've been talking at and about one another for years almost always in harsh terms.

Trump was one of the chief promoters of false rumors that Obama wasn't born in the U.S. Obama mocked Trump as a tax-dodging carnival barker who shouldn't be trusted with the nuclear codes.

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OBAMA: This guy is temperamentally unfit to be commander in chief, and he is not equipped to be president.

HORSLEY: That was Obama describing Trump at a campaign rally in North Carolina just last week. Here's Trump talking about Obama on Fox News.

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TRUMP: I think he's the worst president maybe in the history of our country. I think he's been a disaster. He's been weak. He's been ineffective.

HORSLEY: But all that bitterness was set aside today at least for the moment when the TV cameras were present. Obama says regardless of party or preference, it's important for the two men and their teams to work together to ensure a smooth transition. For his part, Trump described Obama as a very good man.

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TRUMP: I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including counsel. He's - he explained some of the difficulties, some of the high-flying assets and some of the really great things that have been achieved.

So, Mr. President, it was a great honor being with you, and I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future.

HORSLEY: One piece of advice the president offered his successor - feel free to ignore those shouted questions of reporters. Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner also spent some time today talking with Obama's chief of staff, Denis McDonough.

Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, met with Vice President Biden. And Michelle Obama gave Melania Trump a private tour of the White House residence, including one of the first family's favorite spots, the Truman Balcony.

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OBAMA: We want to make sure that they feel welcome as they prepare to make this transition.

HORSLEY: A spokesman says Obama came away from today's meeting with renewed confidence that the president-elect is also committed to working on a seamless handoff in January. The spokesman quickly added, though, the two men did not resolve their many policy differences.

Indeed Trump met this afternoon with Republican congressional leaders and spoke about acting quickly on health care and immigration, a move that would reverse some of Obama's legacy initiatives. Scott Horsley, NPR News, the White House. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.