President-elect Trump Meets With President Obama at the White House

This morning, President-elect Trump and President Obama, met at the White House to formalize and discuss the transfer of power to the incoming administration. The meeting might seem awkward, given the tenor of the campaign rhetoric, yet more than likely the reality of the situation will shift the focus of the meeting away from the campaign, and toward establishing a working relationship to facilitate a smooth and seamless transition to the new Trump administration.

Although there was informational discussion of foreign affairs and domestic policy, there was little point to discussing policy differences between the two men, as the differences are so disparate, particularly on central issues such as Obamacare, trade, immigration, and security, among almost all other domestic and foreign policies, that there would be little basis changing Trump’s positions. Trump will rebuild the US military; build a wall to combat illegal immigration; renegotiate trade agreements and end the Trans Pacific Partnership arrangement; and cut taxes. Trump was elected on these policy prescriptions, and thus they are simply non-negotiable policy positions.

It is certainly in President Obama’s interest to be gracious toward the president-elect, given his behavior from this point forward will affect the perception of the final phase of his presidency. President-elect Trump will seize the opportunity to appear presidential, showing respect for the office of the presidency, particularly given the anti-Trump protest occurring in several US cities last night.

In a short photo-op meeting from the Oval Office, the two men were cordial and announced the establishment of an efficient transition relationship, which was the principal purpose and outcome of their White House meeting. The most striking element of the photo-op meeting was the contrast of demeanor between the two men. Mr. Trump appeared to be a seasoned chief executive, and relaxed. President Obama seemed a bit surprised to be meeting with a President-elect Trump, and not Clinton. He also seemed a bit anxious; perhaps concerned about comments Mr. Trump might make during this joint photo-op; but likely more concerned about what the incoming president will do to reverse his policies. President-elect Trump announced the two will have future meetings during the course of the transition.