Trump arrives in Washington, meets with Obama & GOP leaders

President-elect Donald Trump met with outgoing President Barack Obama and the Republican congressional leadership in Washington, while speculation ran rampant about his team’s plans for transition, from press relations to cabinet appointments.

After landing his private plane at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Trump proceeded to the White House, where he met with Obama in a meeting described as “a little less awkward than some might have expected” by White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

A planned 15-minute meeting ended up lasting over 90 minutes, with Obama calling it an “excellent conversation” and adding that he was “very encouraged” by Trump’s willingness to work with the outgoing administration.

Trump described the first meeting he ever had with Obama as an “honor,” adding that he would continue to seek Obama’s counsel after he leaves office.

“Here’s a good rule, don’t answer any questions when they start yelling,” Obama quipped as reporters began shouting questions during the brief photo opportunity.

No such photo-op was organized for the meeting between the outgoing First Lady Michelle Obama and Melania Trump, however. Meanwhile, Vice President-elect Mike Pence met with outgoing Vice President Joe Biden.

Obama and Trump “didn’t resolve all their differences,” Earnest told reporters Thursday afternoon, adding that they did not really try to do so.

White House staff did not appear to share the outgoing president’s optimism, their faces grim as the president-elect arrived, while some were even crying.

After the meeting at the White House, Trump proceeded to Capitol Hill, where he met with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky). Accompanied by Pence, Trump promised his administration would do “spectacular things” for the American people, but did not take questions from the press.

In the absence of official information, the Washington rumor mill is rife with speculation about who might end up in Trump’s cabinet. Among the names being mentioned are former Defense Intelligence Agency chief General Michael Flynn as national security adviser, former Georgia Congressman Newt Gingrich as secretary of state, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as secretary of commerce, and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus as the White House chief of staff. Two names have been brought up as possible Treasury picks: former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin and JPMorgan Chase chairman Jamie Dimon.

The Pentagon has reportedly not been contacted by anyone from the Trump camp just yet.

Another report says that the president-elect’s team will move down from New York to Washington, DC on November 21, in preparation for the presidential transition.

There were reports that Trump’s team had deleted the proposal to temporarily halt immigration from certain countries – the so-called “Muslim ban” – from the campaign website, but the page reappeared Thursday afternoon, without explanation.

If Trump channels Americans’ anger “against Muslims, Hispanics, African Americans and women, we will be his worst nightmare,” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders warned on Thursday. He previously characterized Trump’s victory as an expression of anger in the US electorate against the unfair economic and political system.

Sanders ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, but lost to eventual nominee Hillary Clinton in a process many critics condemned as flawed and weighted to benefit the establishment candidate.

Some US companies are already positioning themselves to benefit from the new administration. Three major airlines — American, Delta, and United — are planning to approach Trump about renegotiating the Open Skies Agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, arguing that the deal gives unfair advantages to heavily subsidized Gulf carriers such as Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Emirates, according to the Washington Post.

The paper also reported a “palpable sense of dread” among the US intelligence officials who were expecting a Clinton victory. Trump has promised to “drain the swamp” and oust the foreign policy and intelligence establishment in Washington.

“I don’t know if there is going to be a tidal wave of departures of people who were going to stay around to help Hillary’s team but are now going to be, ‘I’m out of here’,” said one intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “I’m half dreading, half holding my breath going to work today.”

Another government official was not quite so concerned, saying that bureaucracies have “an institutional ability to survive."

“If you ask about rank and file, for a long time there has been a sense that [presidents and administrations] come and go, but we’re still here,” he said.