President Trump Orders Standing Ovation for Hillary and Bill Clinton at Luncheon and Finally Gets Them to Smile After Couple Glumly Sits Through Swearing-in and Hear Chants From the Crowd of ‘Lock Her Up’
Donald Trump extended an olive branch to Hillary Clinton on Friday afternoon in the form of a 30-second standing ovation for his political nemesis after a luncheon with members of Congress.
And at long last, she offered a broad smile.
Trump’s moment of generosity came after Clinton, the Democratic Party’s unsuccessful White House candidate, braved an inauguration ceremony that she had expected would mark the beginning of her own presidency.
She and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, sat through that ceremony stone-faced, betraying little of the regret and disappointment that comes along with losing the world’s most consequential election.
Adding insult to injury, a pocket of Trump supporters in the crowd chanted ‘Lock her up!’ when the Clintons were introduced.
That slogan, which made its debut at the Republican National Convention, later became an unavoidable anti-Clinton campaign battle cry.
Trump seemed to erase it all with a gesture that was beamed around the world.
‘I was very honored – very, very honored – when I heard that President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton was coming here today,’ Trump told lawmakers packed into Statuary Hall inside the U.S. Capitol.
‘And I think it’s appropriate to say. And I’d like you to stand up. I’d like you to stand up.’
Trump kept the sustained applause going by clapping enthusiastically himself.
‘And honestly,’ he added, ‘there’s nothing more I can say, because I have a lot of respect for those two people.’
The president had already shaken Mrs. Clinton’s hand at the start of the traditional lunch event as they came face-to-face.
That moment closed a chapter in American political history that saw Clinton’s aspirations swamped by Trump’s populist victory.
Bill Clinton remained glum during the noontime inaugural swearing-in. Hillary looked glummer, telling a wordless story of how she felt.
Some Democrats, including many in Congress, questioned the Clintons’ decision to attend, saying it tended to validate President Trump at the very moment their party aims to ostracize him.
Trump had it both ways in less than 24 hours, mocking Clinton during a dinner speech before figuratively embracing her.
Following a Thursday night candlelight dinner inside Washington’s Union Station, he jabbed at the Clinton campaign for planning a fireworks display in New York City when they thought they had the presidency locked up.
Ultimately, Team Clinton canceled its fireworks permit as Election Day closed in.
‘They spent $7 million on fireworks. And they canceled it – and that’s because history has proven that if you’re going to lose, you don’t want fireworks, right?’ Trump joked.
‘And that was a good sign.’
Hillary showed up in a white pantsuit and coat, alongside Bill and their daughter Chelsea, for an appearance she never thought she would make without hearing ‘Hail to the Chief’ played in her honor.
And she used Twitter to issue a veiled to rebuke to those who boycotted it – saying: ‘I’m here today to honor our democracy & its enduring values. I will never stop believing in our country & its future.’
Clinton won points from a former adversary for bucking up for the occasion.
‘I think it takes a lot to show up in that situation after the kind of campaign that was run against her,’ said Tad Devine, a top adviser to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who challenged Clinton in the Democratic primaries.
Devine said Clinton’s attendance ‘is [a] testament to her strength of character. I really think she should be praised.’
Trump famously castigated Mrs. Clinton repeatedly as ‘Crooked Hillary,’ interrupting her during debates and projecting a generally belligerent attitude as he unseated the would-be first female president.
On Friday afternoon he also praised the military men he recruited to join his cabinet, including retired Gen. James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis – and hinted that Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer would warm to him.
‘Those generals are going to keep us so safe,’ Trump said.
‘They’re going to have a lot of problems, the other side. They’re going to look at a couple of them. This is central casting. If I’m doing a movie, I’d pick you, general.’
Trump pointed to Mattis and declared that he is ‘doing really well. Even – even Chuck likes General Mattis, and General Kelly.’
‘We’re going to have four great years, hopefully, of peace and prosperity,’ the new president told the lawmakers. ‘And we’ll be working very, very hard.’
And we’re all dealing together. We all want the same thing. We’re all good people,’ he added.
‘Whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, doesn’t make any difference. We’re going to get along.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail, David Martosko and Nikki Schwab