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

The day before today on the White Area — the day after the election — the surprise used to be palpable all over the construction. Obama regularly used the word “zig zag” to explain the united statesand downs of our nation’s lifestyles. In my head, I heard the lyrics of a Bruce Springsteen tune, “one step up and two steps again,” as I walked into the West Wing that morning.

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Being one of the vital older contributors of the personnel, I had watched the rustic undergo many difficult occasions. 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 occasions had been, our nation did sooner or later get better from they all.

President Reagan and Nancy Reagan at Memorial Provider 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 Area
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along side contributors of the nationwide safety crew, obtain an replace at the undertaking towards Osama bin Weighted down within the State of affairs Room on Would possibly 1, 2011.Pete Souza / The White Area

I advised myself that the Trump election used to be every 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 place of job early that morning after the election. I realized an open door and lightweight around the corridor — leader speechwriter Cody Keenan’s place of job. 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 regarded up at me and, whilst nodding sure, started to cry. I reached out to provide her a hug, and the tears flowed onto my swimsuit jacket. Later, I realized mascara stains on my lapel.

That scene repeated itself all over the day. I attempted my easiest to dollar folks up. “It’ll be OK,” I repeated. But I questioned myself how a lot injury a Trump presidency may just do, and the way lengthy it could sooner or later take for the rustic to get better.

Trump sooner or later arrived on the White Area 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 business. Michelle Obama escorted Melania upstairs to the place of abode.

Within the Oval Place of business, Obama confirmed Trump the non-public 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 mentioned to Trump, “that is my White Area photographer Pete Souza.”

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

“You’re well-known,” Trump mentioned again to me. Which confused me such a lot that I simply let his answer dangle within the air.

President Reagan running in Oval Place of business on Oct. 26, 1988.Pete Souza / The White Area
President Barack Obama displays throughout the cheap assembly within the Roosevelt Room of the White Area on Jan. 29, 2009.Pete Souza / White Area Photograph

Enthusiastic about that remark virtually 4 years later, I nonetheless assume it used to be such an abnormal factor for him to mention. First, I wasn’t in point of fact that widely recognized outdoor the construction (sure, that’s modified a bit of previously few years). So how may just he perhaps know who I used to be? However extra telling, why would the following president of america select 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 conscious that I started throwing colour at Trump and his management within the early days after his inauguration. What started as refined and funny jabs has morphed into a lot more direct statement, reinforced most commonly by means of my Obama pictures as a comparability.

There are some who imagine that I, as a former photojournalist and a former reputable White Area photographer, must stay my mouth close and no longer criticize the present president.

I disagree.

I labored for arguably essentially the most iconic Republican president of my technology (sure, I labored as an reputable photographer for Reagan) and for arguably essentially the most iconic Democratic president of my technology. So I think I’ve a singular vantage level, having noticed two presidents from two other political events as an insider.

The presidency merits any person who’s competent and fair. Somebody who has empathy and compassion. Somebody who upholds the honor, and displays appreciate to, the place of job. Somebody who has personality and is aware of in the end the presidency isn’t about him (or in the future her), however about us.

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