In the early hours of Wednesday morning, as America and its allies digested the shock of Donald Trump winning the 2016 election, President Obama congratulated Trump and invited him to the White House, according to a statement from the WH press corps. "From the White House residence, the President phoned Donald Trump to congratulate him on his victory early this morning. The President also called Secretary Clinton and expressed admiration for the strong campaign she waged throughout the country," the statement read.
It continued: "The President will make a statement on Wednesday at the White House to discuss the election results and what steps we can take as a country to come together after this hard-fought election season. The President invited the President-elect to meet with him at the White House on Thursday, November 10th, to update him on the transition planning his team has been working on for nearly a year. 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."
During the contentious 2016 election, which spanned nearly two years and ended with a shock defeat of presumptive president-elect Hillary Clinton, Obama had made his distaste for Donald Trump crystal-clear. At the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner, for example, he joked: "No one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. That’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”
More recently, Obama had implored his supporters to go out and vote for Hillary Clinton, making clear that his legacy hinged on her being elected president.
Trump and Obama have long not seen eye-to-eye: After all, one of Trump's promises about his presidency would be to repeal Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act measures that Obama has decided a significant stretch of his presidency towards. Repealing Obamacare would strip millions of Americans of their healthcare — the same Americans it was designed to protect.
Obama and First Lady Michelle, who had adamantly campaigned against Donald Trump, are yet to release an official statement about Trump's win, as is Hillary Clinton. However, one enduring theme of their campaigning for Clinton is the line, "When they go low, we go high." It's jarring, but not surprising, that Obama would pass on the baton respectfully and with dignity to whoever the American people elected, even if it happens to be someone he can't stand.