No injuries reported after Barack Obama and Donald Trump hold their first meeting

Source: AP
Source: AP

There are no indications the first formal meeting between President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump ended with a hug and kiss.

But the leader of the free world and his successor shook hands for the cameras Thursday at the White House, demonstrating courtesy, if not true friendship, in the wake of Trump's upset defeat of Hillary Clinton.

Obama said he'd had a productive meeting with Trump, whose candidacy he'd initially jeered and later denounced. 

"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," the outgoing president said as he and Trump sat side-by-side for a post-meeting photo spray.

Trump said it was the first time he had met Obama in person, and called the meeting an honor. He also said he looked forward to "dealing with the president in the future, including counsel" on pressing issues of national interest. 

The two shook hands as the cameras rolled in a symbolic gesture obviously intended to reassure the public of a peaceful transition despite the incredible acrimony of the election. 

In a lighter moment, a smiling Obama casually tapped Trump on the arm as reporters burst out with questions, advising the incoming 45th president not to respond when the press starts popping off in those situations.

"It's always the last one," the president-elect said. 

Trump, who has limited press coverage of his activities, entered the White House complex on Thursday via the South Lawn. That meant he went unseen by reporters massed on the presidential property for the meeting. 

In a telling break from custom, "The Obamas canceled a photo-op of the current and future first couples outside the south entrance of the White House," according to the Wall Street Journal

"The decision not to participate in this tradition illustrates how bitter the campaign was, particularly for Mrs. Obama, who delivered some of the most emotional arguments against electing Mr. Trump," the Journal reported.

Obama said the first lady had met with her successor, Melania Trump, to discuss the move to Washington. That meeting took place out of the public eye.

Melania Trump, center, is the country's next first lady.
Source: 
Evan Vucci/AP

More broadly, the lack of direct access to Trump has been a matter of extreme frustration for the political press corps.

As the Associated Press described, "News organizations had for weeks tried to coordinate a pool of journalists who could begin to travel with Trump immediately after Election Day if he won election. But his campaign did not cooperate with those requests and his senior advisers refused Wednesday, the day after the election, to discuss any such press arrangements."

Nonetheless, reporters on scene caught potential harbingers of things to come as they waited for Obama and Trump to emerge:

As Time reported in the run-up to the Obama-Trump meeting, "The tradition began with Harry Truman. After an utterly brutal and bruising campaign, Truman invited the newly elected Dwight Eisenhower to the White House; then as now, the two men could not stand one another."

Notably, the story continued, "Eisenhower's attacks on the Truman administration during that campaign, and his failure to denounce Sen. Joe McCarthy, enraged Truman, to the point that Truman poured every bit as much energy into defeating Ike as Obama did to defeating Trump."

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Celeste Katz

Celeste Katz is senior political correspondent at Mic, covering national politics. She is based in New York and can be reached at celeste@mic.com.

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