Mark J. Penn, one of the primary architects of President Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign, met briefly with President Trump in the Oval Office last week, according to two people in attendance.
The face-to-face meeting, the first between Mr. Trump and a onetime loyal adviser to the Clintons, marked what some saw as the inevitable conclusion of Mr. Penn’s long-running political metamorphosis.
As Democrats have moved to the left, Mr. Penn, with his centrist politics, has become alienated from a party in which he once reigned as a winning pollster and is a frequent guest on Fox News and the author of op-ed articles criticizing the special counsel’s investigation as a “partisan, open-ended inquisition.” He has even adopted the president’s term, “deep state,” to describe people he views as Democratic operatives sabotaging the Trump administration from within the government.
Mr. Penn arrived at the White House last week with Andrew Stein, a Democrat and former president of the New York City Council, who has known Mr. Trump for decades.
Mr. Penn, who was credited with helping to keep Mr. Clinton focused during his impeachment, sat across the Resolute Desk from the president at a moment when Democratic lawmakers are wrestling with whether to begin impeachment proceedings against Mr. Trump as the special counsel’s investigation finally comes to an end.
But people in attendance said the meeting was not about politics or impeachment, and was brief.
It was scheduled, according to one person who was there, by Mr. Stein. Mr. Penn, who last fall helped write an op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal titled “Hillary Will Run Again,” came along at Mr. Stein’s invitation.
In the meeting, Mr. Trump praised Mr. Penn for his commentary on the special counsel’s investigation and pumped him about how to interpret the findings of his public poll, the Harris Poll, which puts the president’s favorability rating at about 45 percent.
The three former New Yorkers also spent time discussing Edward I. Koch, the New York mayor who was Mr. Penn’s first client and a longtime nemesis of Mr. Trump’s. The two engaged in heated battles over Mr. Trump’s development projects.