‘Ex­cel­lent’ first meet­ing

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE -

Wash­ing­ton >> In a cor­dial be­gin­ning to their trans­fer of power, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump met at the White House Thurs­day. Obama called the 90-minute meet­ing “ex­cel­lent,” and his suc­ces­sor said he looked for­ward to re­ceiv­ing the out­go­ing pres­i­dent’s “coun­sel.”

At the close of the Oval Of­fice sit-down, Obama said to Trump, “We now are go­ing to want to do ev­ery­thing we can to help you suc­ceed be­cause if you suc­ceed, the coun­try suc­ceeds.”

The two men, who have been harshly crit­i­cal of each other for years, were meet­ing for the first time, Trump said. The Repub­li­can called Obama a “very good man” and said he looked for­ward “to deal­ing with the pres­i­dent in the fu­ture, in­clud­ing coun­sel.”

Obama blasted Trump through­out the cam­paign as un­fit to serve as a com­man­der in chief. Trump spent years chal­leng­ing the le­git­i­macy of Obama’s pres­i­dency, falsely sug­gest­ing Obama might have been born out­side the United States.

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.

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, was slow to en­dorse him and did not cam­paign with the nom­i­nee.

Emerg­ing from his meet­ings with con­gres­sional lead­ers, 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 Trump makes good on his cam­paign prom­ises, he’ll wipe away much of what Obama has done dur­ing his eight years in of­fice. The Repub­li­can pres­i­dent-elect, who will gov­ern with Con­gress fully un­der GOP con­trol, has vowed to re­peal Obama’s sig­na­ture health care law and dis­man­tle the land­mark nu­clear ac­cord with Iran. He’s also vowed to build a wall along the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der.

First lady Michelle Obama also met pri­vately in the White House res­i­dence with Trump’s wife, Me­la­nia, while Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den pre­pared to see Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence later Thurs­day.

Obama and Trump met alone, with­out any staff present, White House press sec­re­tary Josh Earnest told re­porters af­ter­ward.

“The two men did not re­lit­i­gate their dif­fer­ences in the Oval Of­fice,” Earnest said. “We’re on to the next

phase.”

Trump trav­eled 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. Trump was harshly crit­i­cal of the me­dia dur­ing his cam­paign and for a time banned news or­ga­ni­za­tions whose cov­er­age he dis­liked from his events.

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

The show of ci­vil­ity at 1600 Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue con­trasted with post­elec­tion 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 pa­pier­ma­che Trump head, beat­ing a Trump pinata and car­ry­ing signs that said “Im­peach Trump.”

In Wash­ing­ton, Trump’s scant tran­si­tion team sprang into ac­tion, culling through per­son­nel lists for top jobs and work­ing through han­dover plans for gov­ern­ment agencies. A per­son fa­mil­iar with the tran­si­tion oper­a­tions said the per­son­nel process was still in its early stages, but Trump’s team was putting a pre­mium on quickly fill­ing key na­tional se­cu­rity posts. The per­son was not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss de­tails by name and spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity.

Ac­cord­ing to an or­ga­ni­za­tional chart for the tran­si­tion ob­tained by The Associated Press, Trump was re­ly­ing on ex­pe­ri­enced hands to help form his ad­min­is­tra­tion. Na­tional se­cu­rity plan­ning was be­ing led by for­mer Michi­gan Rep. Mike Rogers, who pre­vi­ously worked for the FBI.

Do­mes­tic is­sues were be­ing han­dled by Ken Black­well, a for­mer Cincin­nati mayor and Ohio sec­re­tary of state.

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 Sen. Bob Corker were also ex­pected to be un­der con­sid­er­a­tion for for­eign pol­icy posts.

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

PABLO MARTINEZ MON­SI­VAIS — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama lis­tens to Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump speak dur­ing their meet­ing in the Oval Of­fice of the White House in Wash­ing­ton, Thurs­day.

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