Flashback 2016: Obama Invites President-Elect Trump to Oval Office to 'Facilitate a Transition…Come Together'

Four years ago today, a seemingly gracious Donald Trump accepted an invitation to the White House from President Barack Obama in order to "facilitate a transition that ensures our president-elect is successful."

Obama invited then-Republican President-elect Trump to the Oval Office on November 10, 2016, alongside soon-to-be first lady Melania. Hours earlier, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton told her supporters, "Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead." The AP noted Trump was "uncharacteristically quiet" during the meeting with the president, framed as an "olive branch" after months of nasty rhetoric between the two party leaders. Reports would later emerge that Obama was "pissed, but inescapably pragmatic" in his approach to the Oval Office meeting with Trump.

Obama told the dozens of camera-snapping photographers and journalists crammed into the Oval Office on November 10—two days after Election Day—that "it is important for all of us, regardless of party…to now come together and work together."

"My number one priority in the coming two months is to try to facilitate a transition that ensures our president-elect is successful," Obama said as he sat next to Trump in the Oval Office that day. "And I have been very encouraged by the, I think, interest in President-elect Trump's wanting to work with my team around many of the issues that this great country faces."

Trump, sitting quietly with his hands folded in a triangle shape, expressed his optimism that he would work with the current president he'd ridiculed for eight years. And who he would go on to blame for problems in the the coming four years of his own presidency.

"I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including counsel, he explained some of the difficulties, some of the high-flying assets and some of the really great things that have been achieved. So, 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."

As it happened, the two would not meet together again aside from Trump's January 2017 inauguration and the December 2018 funeral for late former President George H.W. Bush. That event at the Washington National Cathedral was attended by all other living former presidents including Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

Fast-forward to November 10, 2020. President Trump tweeted this morning, "WE WILL WIN!" as he accuses the Democratic Party and election winner—former Vice President Joe Biden—of "BALLOT COUNTING ABUSE!" Trump's legal team including Rudy Giuliani have made unsubstantiated allegations of "voter fraud" in states including Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona.

Earlier this week, "I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!" Trump tweeted.

Trump said the Oval Office meeting between himself, Melania, first lady Michelle Obama and the president was only supposed to be 10 or 15 minutes. "But it lasted for almost an hour and a half," he noted, appearing to stammer as he found the gracious words.

White House insiders from both administrations and the Trump transition team would later reveal to reporters how tense the situation was on November 10, 2016.

"The official line at the White House was that the hour-and-a-half meeting with Trump went well and that Trump was solicitous," The New Yorker's David Remnick wrote a week after the meeting. "Later, when I asked Obama how things had really gone, he smiled thinly and said, 'I think I can't characterize it without..." before stopping himself and telling Remnick that maybe one day he'd tell him "over a beer."

Newsweek reached out to the White House and Biden campaign for additional remarks Tuesday afternoon.

trump obama white house 2016
On November 10, 2016, an outwardly gracious President-elect Donald Trump was invited to the Oval Office by then-President Barack Obama just hours after he was designated the presumed winner. Screenshot: White House | YouTube