WH Spox Says Obamas Did Not Cancel Photo-Op With Trumps Ahead Of Visit

This post has been updated.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday threw cold water on a report that the Obamas canceled a traditional photo-op with the Trumps before their first-ever meeting at the White House.

“The press access we put together was based on the guidance we received from all of you over the last eight years about what the priority is,” Earnest told reporters in his daily press briefing, referring to the photograph and brief on-camera interview that President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump did in the Oval Office.

Cable networks spent the morning with their cameras trained on the doors outside the West Wing, hoping for footage of their first handshake, but came up empty-handed. At around 11:20 a.m., anchors belatedly reported that the meeting between the current and future Presidents had been underway without their knowledge for twenty minutes.

The Wall Street Journal had reported that the first couple canceled the photo-op in a break from previous transitions, like when the Obamas posed for news cameras alongside President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, during their first visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue after the 2008 election.

Earnest told reporters that no such cancelation occurred, but that the first couples’ photo was “lower in priority” than the photo opportunity inside the Oval Office.

Pushed to answer whether the first couples’ shoot didn’t happen because Michelle Obama “spoke passionately about how she found Donald Trump to be an unacceptable choice,” Earnest insisted that was not the reason.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “In fact, I’m not aware the first lady’s office was consulted about the press arrangements about today.”

Earnest promised to check with the White House photographer to see if the greeting was documented.

On the campaign trail, the Trumps and Obamas spoke of each other in personal, biting terms. The President-elect helped push the theory that Obama was not born in the United States, and Obama repeatedly criticized Trump as unfit and unqualified to hold the office of President.

In the wake of Tuesday’s election, the Obama said he would do everything in his power to ensure a “successful” transition to a Trump administration.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

TPM Staff
Latest Livewire
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: