Barack Obama, Donald Trump and the Difficult History of Presidential Transition

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tags: election 2016, Obama, Trump



When President Barack Obama met with President-elect Donald Trump for the first time at the White House on Thursday, the meeting was billed as part of Obama’s promise to ensure a “smooth” transition of power the way George W. Bush did for him. As he said in the Rose Garden on Wednesday, “The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy.”

But, while examples of that peacefulness abound—like the letter that President H.W. Bush left on the desk of the Oval Office for his successor Bill Clinton—American history has also seen its fair share of transitions that were far from “smooth.”

For instance, while Trump and Obama talked for 90 minutes, defeated incumbent Herbert Hoover is said to have refused to talk directly to President-elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt during their first meeting after the 1932 election. Instead, the sitting president spoke only to FDR’s aide Raymond Moley, according to one account. He brought in his Treasury Secretary to lecture the incoming President on “the importance of the gold standard, the stability of the banking system and the problem of Europe’s war debt,” as TIME has previously reported. While Obama said he was “encouraged” by his “excellent” discussion with Trump, Hoover described Roosevelt as “very badly informed and of comparably little vision.” (Roosevelt, for his part, had called Hoover a “fat, timid capon” during the campaign.)




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