President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump came face to face at the White House Thursday, moving past the harsh statements they’ve made about each other during the presidential campaign. Coming just two days after Trump beat Obama’s former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States, the outgoing and incoming president met to discuss a smooth transition of power, per American tradition.
“I just had the opportunity to have an excellent conversation with President-elect Trump. It was wide-ranging,” said Obama, sitting next to Trump in oversized leather chairs at the White House. “We talked about some of the organizational issues in setting up a White House. We talked about foreign policy, we talked about domestic policy, and as I said last night, my No. 1 priority in the coming two months is to try to facilitate a transition that ensures the president-elect is successful.”
Then Obama — who previously said Trump was “temperamentally unfit to be commander in chief” — indicated that the meeting gave him faith in a good transition. “I have been very encouraged by the, I think, interest in President-elect Trump wanting to work with my team around many of the issues that this great country faces,” said Obama. “And I believe that it is important for all of us, regardless of party and regardless of political preferences, to now come together, work together, to deal with the many challenges we face.”
As Obama and Trump spoke, First Lady Michelle Obama met with her successor, Melania Trump, the president explained. “In the meantime, Michelle has had a chance to greet the incoming first lady, and we had an excellent conversation with her as well,” said Obama. “And we will make sure that they will feel welcomed as they prepare to make this transition.”
Then Obama addressed Trump: “Most of all, 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, the country succeeds.”
After the president was finished with his remarks, he motioned to Trump, who shared more details of their conversation. “Thank you very much, President Obama. This was a meeting that was going to last for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, and we were just going to get to know each other,” said Trump. “We had never met each other. I have great respect. The meeting lasted for almost an hour and a half, and as far as I’m concerned, it could have gone on for a lot longer. We really, we discussed a lot of different situations — some wonderful and some difficulties.”
Despite having previously indicated that some of his top priorities would be dismantling many of Obama’s policy accomplishments — including his controversial Obamacare — Trump said he intends to seek the president’s opinion in the future. “I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including counsel,” said Trump. “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.”
The gentlemen shook hands as reporters chimed in with questions, but Obama said they would not be taking questions from the small press pool allowed into the Oval Office.
“That’s a good rule — don’t answer the questions when they just start,” Obama said to Trump, smiling.
“It’s always the last one!” replied Trump, pointing his finger. “Very good man. Very good man.”
Watch part of Trump and Obama’s first meeting in the video above.