Ahead of an expected meeting with his successor, President Barack Obama will make his first extensive comments on the election of Donald Trump when issuing a statement from the White House at 12:15 p.m. EDT on Wednesday. After Trump beat Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in an upset result on Tuesday, Obama called the Republican to congratulate him on his victory and welcome him for a meeting at the White House on Thursday.
"Ensuring a smooth transition of power is one of the top priorities the president identified at the beginning of the year and a meeting with the president-elect is the next step," read a statement released on Wednesday morning.
There is sure to be particular attention on the meeting between Obama and Trump and the words of the current president, who will hand over power on Jan. 20, 2017. Obama came out strongly against Trump in the lead up to the election, describing the New York businessman as “temperamentally unfit” to hold the office of president. He also told Trump to “stop whining” in response to Trump’s claims that the election was “rigged.”
Trump has arguably been even more vociferous in his criticism of the current president. Trump’s political career began with his suggestion that Obama was not born in the United States, driving what became known as the “birther” movement. He also lambasted many of Obama’s policies during his eight years in office, including Obamacare and his foreign policy.
However, even when delivering his criticisms of Trump’s candidacy, Obama signaled that a cordial transition of power was imperative.
“That’s what Americans do,” he said. “That’s why America is already great. One way of weakening America, making it less great, is if you start betraying those basic American traditions that have been bipartisan, and have helped hold together this democracy now for well over two centuries.”
And his speech on Wednesday is set to again stress the need for unity, with Obama to “discuss the election results and what steps we can take as a country to come together after this hard-fought election season,” according to his statement.