WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump met Thursday at the White House for 90 minutes, which the outgoing leader called "excellent."
At the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (left) shows President-elect Donald Trump; Trump’s wife, Melania; and Vice President-elect Mike Pence the view of the inaugural platform being prepared for Trump’s swearing-in on Jan. 20.
President-elect Donald Trump, accompanied by his wife Melania, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, gestures while walking Thursday in the Capitol in Washington.
Obama said he was "encouraged" by Trump's willingness to work with his team during the transition of power, and the Republican called the president a "very good man."
"I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including his counsel," Trump said from the Oval Office. He'll begin occupying the office Jan. 20. "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."
While Trump noted that he and Obama had never met before, their political histories will forever be linked. Trump spent years perpetuating the myth that Obama was born outside the United States. The president campaigned aggressively against Trump during the 2016 campaign, warning that his election would put the republic at risk.
But, at least publicly, the two men appeared to put aside their animosity. As the meeting concluded and journalists scrambled out of the Oval Office, Obama smiled at his successor and explained the unfolding scene.
"I have been very encouraged by the interest, by President-elect Trump's wanting to work with my team around many of the issues that this great country faces. I believe that it is important for all regardless of party and regardless of political preferences to now come together, work together to deal with the many challenges we face.
"We now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed because if you succeed, the country succeeds," Obama said.
Obama and Trump met alone, with no staff members present, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said after the discussion.
"The two men did not re-litigate their differences in the Oval Office," Earnest said. "We're on to the next phase."
In an interview Wednesday, White House communications director Jennifer Psaki said the president has talked privately with his staff, as well as publicly, about putting institutional interests ahead of political ones.
Referring to the speeches Obama delivered upon winning the presidency and at his first inaugural, she said, "He reflects a lot about the cog in the wheel that you are as president. He was taking the baton, he's handing it off. But I think it's a recognition that it's bigger than individual aspirations and it's bigger than yourself, and bigger than anything that you've accomplished, because we as a country need to be stable, need to have continuity."
View from the top
Taking a triumphant tour of the nation's capital, Trump sketched out priorities with Republican congressional leaders and took in the majestic view from where he'll be sworn in to office.
From the White House, Trump headed to Capitol Hill for meetings with House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to discuss the GOP legislative agenda. Ryan, who holds the most powerful post in Congress, was a sometime critic of Trump and never campaigned with the nominee.
Emerging from the meetings, Trump discussed priorities for his presidency.
"We're going to move very strongly on immigration," he said. "We will move very strongly on health care. And we're looking at jobs. Big league jobs."
Ryan took Trump on a tour of the Speaker's Balcony overlooking the National Mall, the scene of Trump's inauguration. The view, Trump said, was "really, really beautiful."
First lady Michelle Obama met privately in the White House residence with Trump's wife, Melania, while Vice President Joe Biden saw Vice President-elect Mike Pence late Thursday. Trump's team was said to be sketching a robust role for Pence, an experienced Washington hand, that would include both domestic and foreign policy responsibilities.
Trump traveled to Washington from New York on his private jet, breaking with protocol by not taking journalists in his motorcade or on his plane to document his historic visit to the White House. Trump was harshly critical of the media during his campaign and for a time banned news organizations whose coverage he disliked from his events.
The show of civility at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. contrasted with postelection scenes of protests in cities across the country. The demonstrations found hundreds marching for a second night Thursday in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Dallas and Grand Rapids, Mich.
Police nationwide made dozens of arrests -- most of them in New York -- late Wednesday through Thursday, according to police officials. Although most of the demonstrations were peaceful, police in Oakland, Calif., said a rally there turned violent when some in the large crowd threw rocks and fireworks at police officers, injuring three of them.
Thursday night's peaceful demonstration in Dallas ended with a march into the heart of downtown by demonstrators carrying signs bearing such slogans as "Love Trumps Hate" and "Spirit Unbreakable."
High school students in San Francisco chanted "not my president" and waved rainbow and Mexican flags as they marched through the city's downtown. The San Francisco Unified School District said that more than 1,000 students staged a citywide walkout on Thursday.
People in Trump's circle said they were monitoring the unrest and had expected such activity after the election.
On Thursday, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a close adviser to Trump, said the protesters were "a bunch of spoiled crybabies."
Assembling a staff
Behind the scenes Thursday, Trump was beginning the process of putting together his White House team. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who worked his way into Trump's inner circle during the election, and top campaign official Kellyanne Conway were emerging as possible picks for White House chief of staff, according to two people familiar with the transition planning.
A third person said conservative media executive Steve Bannon was also in the mix, though others insisted Bannon would not have a White House role. Those involved in the process insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the planning publicly. A decision on chief of staff is expected in the coming days.
Trump, and Democrat Hillary Clinton, already had been receiving national-security briefings as the nominees of the two major political parties. The White House said Thursday that Obama has convened a coordinating council to facilitate a smooth transition, including providing briefings from federal agencies to Trump's transition team, headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Trump's senior team already huddled privately Wednesday to begin a more focused period of transition planning. The group included Christie, Priebus, Pence, Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, and Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, among others.
The team is putting a premium on quickly filling key national-security posts, according to people familiar with the conversations but not authorized to discuss them publicly.
"We had a great meeting and I thought it was valuable. And lots of work has been done," said Sessions. "So it's the beginning, really a solid beginning. First phase of the beginning."
Trump is weighing a senior team drawn from a small group of high-profile supporters, including Priebus, Christie, Giuliani, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. Bill Hagerty, Trump's director of presidential appointments, declined to detail a timeline for Trump's first personnel moves.
National-security planning was being led by former Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, who previously worked for the FBI. Joseph Kellogg, a retired Army lieutenant general, was heading defense planning. For domestic issues, the Trump transition team was relying on the leadership of Ken Blackwell, a former Cincinnati mayor and Ohio secretary of state. Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, told a Topeka television station he was consulting with Trump insiders on the president-elect's immigration policy.
A Trump spokesman did not respond to questions about the team.
Officials from the Trump transition team are starting to set up shop in agencies across the federal government, where they can consult with top Obama officials as they assemble their staffs. The current White House already has begun to transfer a large amount of information to the National Archives and Records Administration: so far it has sent 283 million files made up of 122,000 gigabytes of data.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the agency stood ready "to work with the incoming team once that team is designated and arrives here. But we don't have any firm word as to when that will be."
Trump's advisers dove into the huge task of staffing government agencies. A transition website, greatagain.gov, referred to 4,000 political appointee openings.
The team also opened a Twitter feed -- transition2017 -- which had 14,800 followers as of Thursday morning.
Separately, a new batch of returns from Arizona gave Trump a solid lead there for the state's 11 electoral votes. Trump already amassed the 270 minimum as votes were counted into the early hours Wednesday; the win in Arizona boosted his count to 290.
Information for this article was contributed by Julie Pace, Erica Werner, Andrew Taylor, Julie Bykowicz, Steve Peoples, Matthew Lee, Robert Burns and Jonathan Lemire of The Associated Press and by David Nakamura, Juliet Eilperin and Elise Viebeck of The Washington Post.
A Section on 11/11/2016
Print Headline: Trump takes look around White House