Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama, admitted the mood in the White House is a little dark in the last couple weeks of Obama's presidency.
She was asked how the Obama staff has been feeling as their time in the White House comes to a close at the Politico Women Rule Summit on Wednesday in Washington, DC.
I've been here since day one, and so I'm not going to pretend that it's not traumatic for me. I've spent eight years of my life doing this.
Obviously we were surprised by the outcome of the election. It was kind of, you know, I'm not sure what the right analogy would be… Like a punch in the stomach, let's say. [...] But that's the democracy that we have. The people get to decide and elections matter and we have to get about the business of doing our jobs.
With this, Jarrett said the staff is following Obama's example, which has been "upbeat," to help the Trump administration transition into the White House. Thanks to Obama's positive outlook, Jarrett said,
I think the mood is a lot better today than it was the day after the election.
The Obama White House is following the president's lead in working on Trump's transition.
The president has been clear with us that our number one priority — other than finishing up the business we have left to do before January 20 — is to ensure a smooth and orderly transition.
They especially want to work on this since George W. Bush's administration was extremely supportive of their own transition in 2008.
Aside from working on the transition, Jarrett is making sure people on the Obama staff "land well" once their White House jobs end.
I think that will be a part of our legacy, to see them go out and change the world from outside of the White House.
But it is still difficult to say goodbye to the job.
She explained that every other woman who is an assistant to the president — a senior title — has been promoted by Obama, so they are "like family."
Jarrett said it's like when her daughter went off to college. She said,
You knew it was going to be different, it wasn't going to necessarily ever going to be quite the same again, but just because it's different doesn't mean those relationships end. But it is hard to say goodbye to the people and also to the privilege of working in the White House.
I think we all agree that saying goodbye — under any circumstances, but especially these particular circumstances — is never easy.