Friday 20 October 2017

Donald Trump meets Barack Obama in White House and sets out agenda for power

President-elect Donald Trump meets President Barack Obama at the White House (AP)
President-elect Donald Trump meets President Barack Obama at the White House (AP)
People gather outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington awaiting the arrival of President-elect Donald Trump. (AP)
Protesters in New York march along Fifth Avenue outside Trump Tower, to protest against Donald Trump's presidential victory (AP)

President-elect Donald Trump took a triumphant tour of Washington on Thursday, holding a cordial White House meeting with President Barack Obama, sketching out priorities with Republican congressional leaders and taking in the majestic view from where he will be sworn in to office.

Mr Trump's meeting with Mr Obama spanned 90 minutes, longer than originally scheduled. Mr Obama said he was "encouraged" by Mr 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," Mr Trump said from the Oval Office. He will begin occupying the office on January 20.

While Mr Trump noted that he and Mr Obama had never met before, their political histories will forever be linked. Mr Trump spent years perpetrating the myth that Mr Obama was born outside the United States. The president campaigned aggressively against Mr 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, Mr Obama smiled at his successor and explained the unfolding scene.

"We now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed because if you succeed the country succeeds," Mr Obama said.

From the White House, Mr 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 Republican legislative agenda. Mr Ryan, who holds the most powerful post in Congress, was a sometime critic of Mr Trump and never campaigned with the nominee.

Emerging from the meetings, Mr Trump sketched out 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."

If Mr Trump makes good on his campaign promises, he will wipe away much of what Mr Obama has done during his eight years in office.

The Republican president-elect, who will govern with Congress fully under Republican control, has vowed to repeal Mr Obama's signature health care law and dismantle the landmark nuclear accord with Iran. He has also vowed to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.

First lady Michelle Obama met privately in the White House residence with Mr Trump's wife, Melania, while Vice President Joe Biden was seeing Vice President-elect Mike Pence later on Thursday.

Mr Obama and Mr Trump met alone, with no staff present, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters afterwards.

"The two men did not re-litigate their differences in the Oval Office," Mr Earnest said. "We're on to the next phase."

Mr Trump travelled to Washington from New York on his private jet, breaking with protocol by not bringing journalists in his motorcade or on his plane to document his historic visit to the White House. Mr Trump was harshly critical of the media during his campaign and for a time banned news organisations whose coverage he disliked from his events.

As scores of journalists waited to be admitted to the Oval Office to see Mr Obama and Mr Trump together, they saw White House chief of staff Denis McDonough walking along the South Lawn driveway with Jared Kushner, Mr Trump's son-in-law. A handful of Trump aides trailed them.

The show of civility at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue contrasted with post-election scenes of protests across a politically divided country. Demonstrators from New England to the heartland and the West Coast vented against the election winner on Wednesday, chanting "Not my president," burning a papier-mache Trump head, beating a Trump pinata and carrying signs that said "Impeach Trump".

More than 100 protesters held a sit-in outside Trump International Hotel just blocks from the White House. The mostly student protesters held signs saying Love Trumps Hate, a phrase Democrat Hillary Clinton often used during the campaign.

Mr Trump's advisers, many of whom were stunned by his unexpected victory over Mrs Clinton, plunged into the work of setting up a White House and staffing government agencies.

Officials at the Pentagon and State Department said they had not yet been contacted.

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."

Mr Trump was expected to consider several loyal supporters for top jobs, including former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani for attorney general or national security adviser and campaign finance chairman Steve Mnuchin for Treasury secretary. Former house speaker Newt Gingrich and Tennessee Senator Bob Corker were also expected to be under consideration for foreign policy posts.

As president-elect, Mr Trump is entitled to the same daily intelligence briefing as Mr Obama - one that includes information on US covert operations, information gleaned about world leaders and other data gathered by America's 17 intelligence agencies. The White House said it would organise two exercises involving multiple agencies to help Mr Trump's team learn how to respond to major domestic incidents.

AP

Press Association

Editors Choice

Also in World News