Michelle Obama meets Melania Trump: First Lady's meeting with her successor is kept behind closed doors

By Francesca Chambers

First Lady Michelle Obama met her successor this afternoon, greeting the president-elect's wife Melania Trump at the White House when she arrived and hosting her for tea.

Press were barred from covering the visit that coincided with their husbands' 90-minute meeting in the Oval Office, the Daily Mail reported.

The Trumps arrived at the White House via a private entrance on the south side of the building. They left the same way they came.

A photo of the women chatting in the Yellow Oval Room was posted by the current administration hours later - and only after DailyMail.com put public pressure on the White House to release it.

In 2008, when the White House last changed hands, President George W. Bush and his wife Laura eagerly greeted the Obamas on the South Lawn.

Reporters were invited to cover the historic moment then. Today they were not.

A Wall Street Journal report says the White House cancelled the photo-op. The president's spokesman forcefully pushed back on the assertion in his daily briefing.

"That's not true," he said.

The White House says that Mrs. Obama gave Mrs. Trump a tour of her new living quarters while the two women spoke about 'the unique demands of raising a family in the White House.'

"The First Lady was pleased to extend that courtesy to Mrs. Trump and enjoyed the opportunity that she had to visit with her today," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

Melania, a 46-year-old former model, donned a double breasted black coat, a black skirt, and black Christian Louboutin pumps. Michelle wore silver heels and a dark blue dress that was split in two by a large red stripe that was framed in golden yellow.

As part of their tour, the first lady showed off the Truman Balcony, Earnest said, and the state floor of the White House.

"They also had a discussion about raising kids," he said. "Obviously the first lady's two daughters spent their formative years of their childhood at the White House and Mrs. Trump's son will also spend some important years of his childhood here."

Making reference to Barron Trump, the 10-year-old son of Melania and Donald, and the life that awaits him, Earnest said, "That's a rather unique childhood, and the two women had an opportunity to talk about that experience and being a good parent through that experience.

"After their tour concluded, the first lady and Mrs. Trump walked over to the Oval Office and the two couples visited again before they departed," he said.

The first lady has not appeared in public since Donald Trump won Tuesday's presidential election.

President Barack Obama listens to President-elect Donald Trump speak to members of the media. Photo / AP
President Barack Obama listens to President-elect Donald Trump speak to members of the media. Photo / AP

Obama lent her time to Hillary Clinton repeatedly in the final months of the campaign, appearing alongside her in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, and four more times on her own.

More popular than her husband and both of his would-be successors, Obama delivered the most memorable take-down of Trump in the general election when she publicly reprimanded him at a Clinton rally for bragging that he could sexually assault women without recourse because he's wealthy.

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She also gave Clinton one of her mantras of her candidacy: "When they go low, we go high."

When Trump finally announced that he was no longer a birther after doubting president's birth origins for years, it was the first lady who hit back.

Trump won more electoral votes than Clinton on Tuesday. Even though Clinton, a Democrat like the Obamas, won the most votes overall, Trump will become the next president. The electoral college, not the popular vote, decides the winner of in national elections.

The first lady did not stand at her husband's side when he begged Americans who voted for Clinton to approach the new president with an open mind.

She has neither been seen nor heard from in the 48 hours since.

Her husband's spokesman insisted today that she was not responsible for what happened on the South Lawn.

"Absolutely not," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, shooting down a suggestion that first lady or the vice president asked not to be taped meeting the Trumps.

President Obama and President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office. Photo / AP
President Obama and President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office. Photo / AP

The White House official said, "I'm not aware that the first lady's office was consulted about the press arrangements for today. I certainly didn't consult with them.

"What we can do is, 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. We'll follow up with you on that."

None of those photos had manifested by 6:30 pm on Thursday. A single photo of Melania and Michelle sitting for tea popped up on the White House's photo steam after 5pm.

Earnest argued during his daily briefing that that the administration went above and beyond to provide access to today's meetings.

The Obama-Bush Oval Office meeting was not accessible to reporters the last go round, he pointed out. He incorrectly claimed that it was off limits in 2000, too, when Bush took the reigns from Bill Clinton.

He scolded reporters asking why the current and first family were not pictured together today and told them staff sought to 'provide you the best access that we could.'

FLOTUS in particular, was gracious with her time, he argued.

"She doesn't have any sort of vested constitutional responsibility that relate to a transition," he said. I think what you saw today was a gesture of hospitality to the incoming first lady."

He brought up Mrs. Obama's struggle to adapt to life at the White House and 'the stresses and anxieties' she's said she faced 'moving to a new place, living inside a fish bowl, living inside a museum and raising your family there.'

"And I'm sure that Mrs. Trump is feeling many of those same anxieties as she prepares to move herself and her family into the White House," he added. "So the courtesy that Mrs. Obama extended is rooting in her own experience of going through this difficult transition."

After their departure from the White House the Trumps traveled to Capitol Hill for meetings with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. They were to return to New York later tonight.

- Daily Mail

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