President-elect Donald Trump and President Obama met for the first time Thursday and pledged to work together, starting the whirlwind transition that will unfold over the next 10 weeks until Trump is sworn into office Jan. 20.
Trump later met with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) at the Capitol and said they also would work together — but on Republican goals that are opposed by Obama and his fellow Democrats. “We’re going to lower taxes,” Trump told reporters, with Ryan seated by his side. “We’re going to fix health care and make it affordable and better.” He appeared to be referring to a plan to lower taxes that heavily benefits top earners and to the GOP’s aim of repealing the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement.
An hour and a half after Trump entered the White House through the South Lawn entrance — avoiding news cameras and the president’s staff — a group of reporters was ushered into the Oval Office, where the president and president-elect were seated in the high-backed armchairs at the end of the room.
In a sign of how tensions between the two politicians have not disappeared in the immediate aftermath of the election, the White House did not arrange for the traditional photo-op between the current first couple and the incoming one, a custom that George W. Bush and his wife Laura observed when the Obamas visited the White House in 2008. Melania Trump met separately with Michelle Obama.
Still, Trump told reporters Thursday that he expects to work closely with Obama now and in future to seek his advice in guiding the country. He noted that a session that was supposed to last 10 to 15 minutes went on for an hour and a half.
“As far as I’m concerned, it could have lasted a lot longer,” Trump said. “We discussed a lot of different situations, some wonderful and some difficulties. I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including counsel.”
“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,” he added, calling Obama “a very good man.”