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Story highlights

Rice criticized Trump before the election

He also trashed her foreign policy

Washington CNN —  

President Donald Trump met Friday with an unlikely guest, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who called on Trump to withdraw from the presidential race a month before he was elected president.

The former top administration official under President George W. Bush met Trump in the Oval Office after first sitting down with Vice President Mike Pence.

The meeting comes less than six months after Rice called on Trump to drop out of the presidential race in the wake of the leaked “Access Hollywood” tape showing Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women.

GOP heavyweights with ties to Exxon pushed Tillerson

“Enough! Donald Trump should not be President. He should withdraw,” Rice wrote on Facebook on October 8. “As a Republican, I hope to support someone who has the dignity and stature to run for the highest office in the greatest democracy on earth.”

Rice and Trump already appear to have put those words behind them.

Following Trump’s surprise victory, Rice and other former Bush administration officials recommended then-ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson in conversations with Pence to serve as secretary of state, a source familiar with the discussions told CNN in December.

Rice, who previously served as a consultant to the oil company, then publicly helped prop up Tillerson’s nomination, calling him an “excellent choice for secretary of state” and touting his “remarkable and broad international experience.”

But Trump’s tête-a-tête Friday with Rice, their first publicly known meeting, also follows Trump’s repeated criticism on the campaign trail of the Iraq War and the neoconservative thinking that mired the US in the trillion-dollar war.

Rice, who at the time of the invasion was Bush’s national security adviser, was a chief architect and proponent of the Iraq War, arguing publicly – and ultimately erroneously – that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Trump, during his campaign for president, repeatedly falsely claimed that he opposed the Iraq War from the outset, though he offered tepid support for the invasion before it was launched and initially praised the war effort before becoming a critic months later.

Trump repeatedly slammed Bush and his top officials for pushing the US into the Iraq War, arguing it was based on lies.

But now as president, Trump finds himself saddled with the US military presence in Iraq, which has now turned into a campaign against the terrorist group ISIS. More than 5,000 US troops are currently stationed in Iraq, largely to conduct special operations missions and advise Iraqi forces fighting ISIS on the front lines.