President Barack Obama and president-elect Donald Trump detailed their first meeting at the White House, telling reporters they discussed foreign and domestic policy alongside working together to ensure a successful transition of power.
Obama called their conversation “excellent” and reiterated his statement from Wednesday that he and his team were committed to helping the Trump administration prepare to enter the White House. “I have been very encouraged by the interest in president-elect Trump’s wanting to work with my team around many of the issues that this great country faces,” Obama said. “And I believe that it is important for all of us – regardless of party and regardless of political preferences – to now come together, to now work together, to deal with the many challenges we face.”
He added to Trump: “I want to emphasize, to you, as 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.”
Trump, meanwhile, struck a similarly conciliatory tone as his victory speech, saying he had great respect for Obama and noting the meeting was only supposed to be 10 to 15 minutes, but lasted nearly an hour-and-a-half and could have gone on longer.
Trump added, “I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including counsel. He’s 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 meeting between Obama and Trump notably marked the first time the two had met in person, though they’ve been trading barbs long before the 2016 campaign began. Trump was one of the major proponents of birtherism and blasted Obama’s policies during the campaign, calling him the “founder of ISIS.” For his turn, Obama skewered Trump’s birtherism at a White House Correspondents dinner in 2011 – which some have theorized helped spur the business mogul to enter the political arena – and repeatedly lambasted him while campaigning for Hillary Clinton.