WASHINGTON D.C. — President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump met with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama here at the White House on Thursday, as the president continued his stated committment to a smooth transition of power.
But behind the scenes, the White House took a less friendly approach.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Obamas had canceled a photo op with the Trumps, something that Bush had done with the Obamas in 2008.
Bush WH organized a photo with the Obamas when they met at the White House in '08. But the Obamas canceled similar photo-op w/ Trumps pic.twitter.com/PKwI7Dd4D9
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) November 10, 2016
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest refused to explain the details of the decision but denied the story.
“Not true,” he said, during the White House press conference, when asked about the report. He also denied that the lack of a photo opportunity had anything to do with First Lady Michelle Obama not wanting to be photographed with the Trump family. He argued that it was not a “snub” of the Trumps, but rather a different strategy of press access.
The press pool was allowed into the Oval Office on Thursday, to photograph Trump and Obama together after their 90-minute meeting. The two men met alone, with no staffers present.
But Obama snubbed the press by telling Trump not to answer any of their questions after the meeting.
“Here’s a good rule. Don’t answer any questions,” Obama said to Trump after reporters shouted questions at the pair.
Despite the pleasantries exchanged between the two political foes, Earnest specified afterwards that Obama still believed that Trump was unsuitable to be president.
“Look, the president’s views haven’t changed, he stands by what he said on the campaign trail,” Earnest said in response to a question during the White House press briefing.
Earnest’s remarks contrasted with Obama’s welcome of Trump at the White House, promising to meet the standards set by President George W. Bush.
He revealed that the first lady hosted Melania Trump for some tea, and they toured the White House together and even walked on the Truman balcony. The pair also discussed raising children at the White House, as Baron Trump will live there with his parents.
Earnest said that Michelle Obama understood the anxieties of “living inside a museum” like the White House and noted that it could be a “difficult transition” for families.
White House communications director Jen Psaki and Deputy Communications Director Liz Allen met with Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks, according to Earnest, who also visited with her.
Earnest hinted that the White House might release a photo of the two couples meeting.
“We can go back to the White House photographer and see if there are any photos from the greet, so that you all can get some insight into how that went,” he said.
Speaking to CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway spoke about the details of the meeting.
It was a great meeting. Mr. Trump described it to me, said, I had never met President Obama, I liked him a lot. We had a very warm, professional meeting. He was terrific.
First lady Michelle Obama and Melania had a “fantastic meeting.” And he said to me they could not have been more warm and more welcoming to the Trumps.
The White House released a photo of Michelle Obama and Melania Trump having tea together in the White House.
The White House released this photo of Michelle Obama and Melania Trump meeting in the WH – but no pictures with Donald pic.twitter.com/Khi5PyTofC
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) November 11, 2016