I was Obama's White House photographer. Here's what I knew the moment I met Trump.

The day past on the White Space — the day after the election — the surprise used to be palpable all through the development. Obama regularly used the word “zig zag” to explain the americaand downs of our nation’s life. In my head, I heard the lyrics of a Bruce Springsteen track, “one step up and two steps again,” as I walked into the West Wing that morning.

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Being some of the older contributors of the personnel, I had watched the rustic undergo many difficult instances. The assassination of John Kennedy in 1963, the civil rights riots within the 1960s, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy in 1968, the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974 and the nine/11 assaults, to call a couple of. As tough as the ones instances had been, our nation did in the end get better from they all.

President Reagan and Nancy Reagan at Memorial Carrier for servicemen killed and wounded in Lebanon and Grenada at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base, N.C., on Nov. four, 1983.Pete Souza / The White Space
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, at the side of contributors of the nationwide safety staff, obtain an replace at the venture in opposition to Osama bin Weighted down within the State of affairs Room on Might 1, 2011.Pete Souza / The White Space

I informed myself that the Trump election used to be any other such episode — a zag, two steps again or perhaps a couple of extra. But there used to be an unsettling feeling within the pit of my abdomen as I sat in my cubby hollow administrative center early that morning after the election. I spotted an open door and lightweight around the corridor — leader speechwriter Cody Keenan’s administrative center. I poked my head in.

Cody wasn’t there however his younger assistant — a author in her personal proper — used to be seated at her table.

“You doing OK?” I requested.

She appeared up at me and, whilst nodding sure, started to cry. I reached out to present her a hug, and the tears flowed onto my swimsuit jacket. Later, I spotted mascara stains on my lapel.

That scene repeated itself all through the day. I attempted my absolute best to dollar other folks up. “It’ll be OK,” I repeated. But I questioned myself how a lot harm a Trump presidency may just do, and the way lengthy it could in the end take for the rustic to get better.

Trump in the end arrived on the White Space and met with the Obamas within the Diplomatic Reception Room. With him used to be Melania, Jared Kushner, Hope Hicks and a handful of others. President Obama escorted Trump alongside the colonnade to the Oval Place of work. Michelle Obama escorted Melania upstairs to the place of dwelling.

Within the Oval Place of work, Obama confirmed Trump the personal learn about and personal eating room which might be a part of the Oval suite. As they had been about to take a seat down for his or her personal assembly, Obama stated to Trump, “that is my White Space photographer Pete Souza.”

I reached out to shake his hand and stated, “Congratulations, sir.” I used to be following the president’s result in be respectful.

“You’re well-known,” Trump stated again to me. Which at a loss for words me such a lot that I simply let his answer grasp within the air.

President Reagan operating in Oval Place of work on Oct. 26, 1988.Pete Souza / The White Space
President Barack Obama displays all over the cheap assembly within the Roosevelt Room of the White Space on Jan. 29, 2009.Pete Souza / White Space Photograph

Serious about that remark virtually 4 years later, I nonetheless suppose it used to be such an extraordinary factor for him to mention. First, I wasn’t in reality that widely recognized outdoor the development (sure, that’s modified just a little previously few years). So how may just he most likely know who I used to be? However extra telling, why would the following president of the USA make a choice the ones phrases, and simplest the ones phrases, upon me congratulating him?

However staring at the truth display nature of his presidency the closing 4 years, perhaps it makes very best sense. I suppose he concept I had just right rankings.

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Many of us are mindful that I started throwing colour at Trump and his management within the early days after his inauguration. What started as delicate and funny jabs has morphed into a lot more direct observation, strengthened most commonly via my Obama images as a comparability.

There are some who imagine that I, as a former photojournalist and a former professional White Space photographer, must stay my mouth close and now not criticize the present president.

I disagree.

I labored for arguably probably the most iconic Republican president of my era (sure, I labored as an professional photographer for Reagan) and for arguably probably the most iconic Democratic president of my era. So I think I’ve a novel vantage level, having seen two presidents from two other political events as an insider.

The presidency merits any person who’s competent and truthful. Somebody who has empathy and compassion. Somebody who upholds the distinction, and displays recognize to, the administrative center. Somebody who has persona and is aware of in the long run the presidency isn’t about him (or in the future her), however about us.


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