WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Barack Obama said he was “encouraged” by his conversation Thursday with President-elect Donald Trump, calling their first Oval Office meeting “excellent” and “wide-ranging.”
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, Trump was back in New York late Thursday after meeting with Obama for more than an hour during the day to discuss the transition of power. It was their first-ever face-to-face meeting.
“I want to emphasize to you, Mr. 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,” Obama told Trump.
PHOTOS: Obama Meets With Trump
Obama and Trump traded insults during the campaign, but they found common ground in a shared commitment to a smooth transition.
“We talked about some of the organizational issues in setting up the White House,” Obama said of the meeting. “We talked about foreign policy, we talked about domestic policy.”
He said he was encouraged by Trump’s wanting to work with his team on issues facing the country, adding that it is important for all “to now come together” to “deal with the many challenges that we face.”
“As I said last night, my number one priority in the coming two months is to try to facilitate a transition to assure our president-elect is successful,” he said. “Most of all, I want to emphasize to you, Mr. 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 said the two had planned to meet for a much shorter period of time.
“We had never met each other. I have great respect. The meeting lasted for almost an hour and a half. And it could have — as far as I’m concerned, it could have gone on for a lot longer,” Trump said.
He said that Obama explained “some of the difficulties” but also “some of the really great things that have been achieved.”
“I very much look forward to dealing with the President in the future, including counsel,” Trump said. “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.”
At the end of their meeting, Trump called the president “a very good man.”
In the past, Trump has criticized Obama, calling him incompetent and questioning where he was born and during the campaign, Obama spoke out against Trump, saying he was not prepared for the job.
“The weight of the world is on their shoulders,” said Trump campaign advisor and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. “We know Donald, from some of his comments that weren’t so charming, and we know Obama, now on the campaign trail, some of the comments that weren’t so charming.”
While Trump huddled with the president in the Oval Office, his wife, Melania Trump, met privately with First Lady Michelle Obama for tea and a tour of the private family quarters. While her husband has visited in the past, this was Melania Trump’s first visit to the White House.
“Michelle has had a chance to greet the incoming first lady,” the president said. “We had an excellent conversation with her as well, and we want to make sure that they feel welcome as they prepare to make this transition.”
Trump refused to let journalists travel with him to cover his first meeting with Obama, breaking from protocol intended to ensure that the public has a watchful eye on the nation’s leader.
And at the end of the 90-minute Oval Office chat, the press corps shouted questions. Obama put his hand on Trump’s arm and told him it was OK to ignore the media.
Trump has spoken of undoing Obamacare and the Iran nuclear deal, two of the signature achievements of which Obama is most proud.
During the campaign, the president called Trump “unfit” and “unqualified.” On Thursday, Obama’s spokesman said his view has not changed, but the American people have spoken and the time for hard feelings is over.
Later Thursday, Obama greeted the world champion Cleveland Cavaliers, which brought Ohio’s Republican governor – a Trump critic – to D.C.
“Today I said my prayers on the plane for the success of Donald Trump, and I think as Americans, we all need to come together,” said Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Meanwhile, Trump also headed to Capitol Hill Thursday, where he took time to sit down with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).
Ryan gave the Trumps a tour and a look at the platform being built for Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
During the campaign, as Trump generated controversy on the stump, his fellow Republican Ryan often expressed concern and kept his distance.
But on Thursday, Ryan offered a warm rhetorical embrace of Trump and his campaign slogan.
“Donald Trump had one of the most impressive victories we’ve ever seen, and we’re going to turn that victory into progress for the American people, and we are now talking about how we’re going to hit the ground running, and make sure that we can get this country turned around, and make America great again,” Ryan said.
“I think we’re going to do some absolutely spectacular things for the American people,” Trump said.
Trump also sat down with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky). Both congressional leaders are eager to turn Trump’s triumph into legislation to advance the GOP agenda.
“We are going to look very strong immigration – on the border. We are going to look very strong at health care. And we’re looking at jobs,” Trump said.
The White House says Trump’s team will also start getting briefings this week related to the Defense Department, State Department, Treasury Department and other agencies.
The briefings will include budget details, flow charts for staff and other information.
Officials at those agencies will start speaking regularly to Trump team members to facilitate the handover of power in January. And Trump’s team will start creating policy teams that will work out of government-provided offices near the White House.
The White House also says the Obama administration will host two “exercises” involving multiple agencies to help familiarize Trump’s team with government practices and systems for responding to domestic emergencies.
Trump and his team have 4,000 White House and government executive branch jobs to fill and have set up the website GreatAgain.gov for the purpose.
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