President Barack Obama met with President-elect Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday to discuss transitioning power to the Republican, who spent years attempting to delegitimize Obama’s presidency.
The two men met in the Oval Office, and reporters were ushered into the room afterward to hear brief statements from the duo.
Obama said he was “encouraged” by the meeting with Trump and the president-elect’s interest in working with his team.
“I believe that it is important for all of us, regardless of party and regardless of political preferences, to now come together, work together to deal with the many challenges that we face,” he said.
He also noted first lady Michelle Obama had an “excellent conversation” with Trump’s wife, Melania, and said they plan to “make sure they feel welcome as they prepare to make this transition.”
Obama also addressed Trump directly.
“We now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed, because if you succeed, the country succeeds,” he said.
Trump also spoke briefly, praising Obama for meeting with him for nearly 90 minutes.
“I look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including counsel,” Trump said.
Looming large over the meeting was their mutual disdain for each other. Trump spent years pushing rumors about Obama’s citizenship and falsely claiming the nation’s first black president was not actually born in the United States. Obama campaigned hard against the Republican, warning just last week that a Trump presidency would be “damaging for the world.”
Obama stands by his criticisms of Trump that he made throughout the campaign, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
Trump is also scheduled to meet with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Capitol Hill later Thursday.
The meetings mark Trump’s first steps toward assuming the presidency before formally taking office on Jan. 20. He is also set to begin receiving top-secret national security briefings from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and key adviser, was spotted meeting with Obama chief of staff Denis McDonough.
After speaking with Trump on Wednesday morning to congratulate him on his victory, Obama addressed the nation about the election results that had come as a shock to a large portion of the country.
“I have instructed my team to follow the example that President Bush’s team set eight years ago, and work as hard as we can to make sure that this is a successful transition for the president-elect because we are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country,” Obama said. “The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy. And over the next few months, we are going to show that to the world.”
This post has been updated with more details from the meeting.