D.C. officials met with President Trump on Monday to discuss snow preparations for the winter storm, but the offices involved said little on the closed-door meeting.
A picture tweeted from the @POTUS account showed D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld in the Oval Office, sitting across from the president.
— President Trump (@POTUS) March 13, 2017
“Meeting w/ Washington, D.C.
@MayorBowser and Metro GM Paul Wiedefeld about incoming winter storm preparations here in D.C. Everyone be safe!” the tweet read.
It was Bowser’s first meeting since she traveled to New York last fall to meet with Trump when he was president-elect.
A Metro spokesman declined Monday night to say how the meeting came together, or whether topics such as funding were brought up. He deferred to Bowser, who said in a statement:
“This evening, president Donald Trump, [Metro] General Manager Paul Wiedefeld and I discussed how our region serves our residents, public and private employees and visitors on a daily basis. As we prepare for and respond to tonight and tomorrow’s weather, we are proud of all local, state and regional agencies and their employees who will work together to keep our residents safe.”
D.C. Council member and Metro board chairman Jack Evans said he spoke with both Bowser and Wiedefeld after the Oval Office briefing and understood the president asked how the city was preparing and if it needed any help.
Evans said he could not recall such a meeting since he was elected to office over 25 years ago.
“I said to Paul, you got in front of the president on Metro. How did that happen?” Evans said.
The Ward 2 council member said that he was impressed with the president taking the time to engage with local D.C. officials, even though there might not be a significant accumulation of snow downtown.
“I know some people will be making fun of the president for taking time to talk about the snow. But I don’t ever recall seeing a Metro manager briefing the president and certainly not a mayor talking to the president about storm preparation either — definitely not in the Oval Office.”
Evans said Wiedefeld stressed to Trump that over 40 percent of the federal workforce rides Metro and that the transit system is critical not just in moving residents within the city from in from the suburbs or Maryland and Virginia.
It wasn’t the first interaction between Metro officials and the Trump team. A controversy erupted last year when Trump was left off the inaugural SmarTrip card after, Metro said, the transition team failed to respond to its request for permission to use a photo. Eventually a compromise was reached — Metro offered commemorative sleeves that featured a photograph of the president and the text “Make America Great Again!”
Another point of contention came in January when Press Secretary Sean Spicer gave out false Metro ridership numbers as The White House incorrectly claimed that record crowds had attended the inauguration. Spicer later said the inaugural committee had provided incorrect information.
Wiedefeld said earlier this year he plans to meet with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to discuss the federal government’s role in righting the troubled system.
The Federal Government has taken on an increased role in Metro in recent years — the Federal Transit Administration assumed safety oversight of the troubled system in October 2015, but that agency is aiming for the region to set up a Metrorail Safety Commission as soon as possible.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment Monday night.