Morning tea: How the Obamas and Trumps will transfer power tomorrow

Thursday, January 19, 2017 - 07:30

Before he takes the oath of office Friday, Donald Trump will sit down with President Barack Obama for a traditional tea-or-coffee meeting and share a carpool ride to the Capitol — quaint rituals for two men with such a long, public rivalry.

But first, Obama will get up early for his last White House security briefing as chief executive of the United States. He may also issue last-minute pardons or declare sites as national monuments before stepping down.

If tradition holds, Trump will wake up in luxury Léron bed linens across the street in the principal suite of Blair House, the White House's official guest mansion for every president-elect since Jimmy Carter.

Trump can use any of the historic property's 119 rooms to fine-tune his inauguration speech or huddle with advisers.

Blair House records indicate "inauguration day morning has always been strictly a family affair," the U.S. Office of the Chief of Protocol said in an email.

"The president-elect and family are preoccupied with preparing for the momentous event about to change their lives forever; it is a very personal, private time."

Trump will be presented with the same Blair House guest book that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed during last year's state visit.

If the president-elect is hungry before leaving for the pre-inauguration morning church service, he might request the estate's chef prepare his favourite breakfast of bacon and eggs — "bacon medium and the eggs over-well."

He'll likely forgo a morning coffee. He eschews the brew. And besides, he has his meeting with Obama, who will be waiting just 160 metres down Pennsylvania Avenue with the outgoing first lady.

It will be the Obamas' last time inviting guests to their home of the past eight years. Around 10 a.m., a presidential limo is expected to drop off the Trumps in front of the White House. The Obamas will be waiting to greet them at the entrance hall.

"It's cheery, friendly handshakes," says White House Historical Association writer William Seale, author of The President's House.

"It's 'How are you?' It's 'How are you feeling about this?'"

The tea-and-coffee summit, which is typically held in the Green Room or the Red Room, may include the incoming and departing vice-presidents as well as their spouses.

Seale says the Obamas and the family of George W. Bush became close friends after their morning meeting before Obama's inauguration in 2009.

Outgoing presidents have hosted their successors on inauguration day since the 19th century.

"It's a show of civility," says presidential historian Mark Updegrove, director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum.

"Even if you're from a different party, or maybe they campaigned against each other, as with Obama, you still receive them warmly. They're still about to become [the first family] of the United States."