Trump does a 180 on Obama at White House meeting

The awkward hand–shake in the Oval Office after Donald Trump's win.

The awkward hand–shake in the Oval Office after Donald Trump's win. Photo: EPA/Michael Reynolds

It could have been very awkward.

Donald Trump spent years questioning the legitimacy of President Barack Obama, championing the “birther” movement and saying he was the founder of Islamic State.

During a bitter US election campaign, Mr Obama said Mr Trump wasn’t fit to handle his own Twitter account, let alone the nuclear codes.

Trump Obama White House

Donald Trump displayed unaccustomed diplomacy when he met Barack Obama in the Oval Office. Photo: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Now they’ve shaken hands at the White House in a traditional hand–over meeting – and Mr Trump has called Mr Obama “a very good man”, saying he will take his counsel in the future.

The pair had never met face to face before.

His 180-degree turn has left the White House press corps spinning.

The pair refused to answer questions after they spoke in the Oval Office, Mr Obama reaching out to pat Mr Trump on the shoulder to tell him: “Here’s a good rule – don’t answer any questions once they (journalists) get started!”

Mr Obama said the pair had a wide–ranging conversation covering organisational issues at the White House, and both domestic and foreign policy.

He said he was very encouraged by Mr Trump’s team wanting to work with the White House team to facilitate the transition.

“I want to emphasise to you – this president–elect – that we want to do everything we can to help you succeed because if you succeed, the whole country succeeds.”

Mr Trump said the meeting was supposed to last 10–15 minutes but went on for an hour and a half, “and could have gone on a lot longer”.

“Mr President it was a great honour meeting with you and I look forward to meeting with you many many times in the future.”

Immediately after the press briefing, White House spokesman Josh Earnest elaborated on some aspects of the event.

He told reporters no staffers were present during the meeting, but it may have been “a little less awkward” than some might have expected.

Josh Earnest said there were many things about the meeting the pair will keep between the two of them, but Mr Obama briefed Mr Trump on some of the issues coming up on trips overseas, as well as staffing and organisation at the White House.

While the current and future presidents talked, Melania Trump was shown around the famous residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Speculation was that there was likely to have been little warmth in that tour, with rumours surfacing that the Obamas had cancelled a traditional photo opportunity of the current and future first couples outside the south entrance of the White House.

There was no photo – but the White House later denied the Obamas cancelled it.

Ms Obama, described as Hillary Clinton’s secret weapon during the campaign, put forward some of the most emotional arguments against electing Mr Trump.

Today the victor flew in from New York in his private jet, Trump Force One, but then very unusually slipped into the White House from the South Lawn before reporters even knew about it.

Unusually, he’s not keeping a press entourage – something that’s probably not surprising given his attitude towards the media during the campaign – and his motorcade from the airport was unaccompanied by reporters.

The full transition of power will officially take place on January 20.

Donald Trump calls Theresa May

Earlier today Mr Trump phoned British Prime Minister Theresa May, inviting her to visit him “as soon as possible”.

Mr Trump has family and business ties to Scotland and has praised the trans–Atlantic “special relationship”.

Downing Street issued a statement saying Ms May “highlighted her wish to strengthen bilateral trade and investment with the US”.

Britain is hoping to strike new free-trade deals after Britain leaves the European Union, but Mr Trump has signalled he may take a more protectionist attitude to the US economy than his predecessors.

Prominent Brexit campaigner and staunch Trump supporter Nigel Farage, in welcoming his election triumph, called on him to make Britain his top priority.

But in an interview with London’s talkRADIO he’s jokingly urged him to “come and schmooze Theresa” (May), but “don’t touch her for goodness sake”.

More anti–Trump protests planned

A second round of protests are planned across the United States a day after thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of big cities after Mr Trump’s victory in the presidential election.

An anti-Trump rally is planned at New York City’s Union Square Park for a second straight night on Thursday and organisers urged demonstrators to join events in Washington DC, Baltimore, the University of Wisconsin and elsewhere.

There were protests in at least 10 cities on Wednesday, including one that filled streets in midtown Manhattan with demonstrators marching to Trump Tower, the president-elect’s gilded home on Fifth Avenue.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and a high-profile Trump supporter, said the demonstrators were “a bunch of spoiled cry-babies”.

“Calm down, things are not as bad as you think,” Mr Giuliani said.

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