Summary List Placement
President Joe Biden has said that a letter left to him by former President Donald Trump was “very generous,” but that he would not make the contents public until he spoke to his predecessor.
Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, and spent the afternoon signing a batch of executive orders from the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. Many of them reversed Trump’s policies and were attempts to reconnect to the world, including rejoining the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization, and revoking the travel ban primarily imposed on predominately Muslim countries.
It is tradition that departing presidents leave their successors a letter inside the oak desk and Trump, despite snubbing Biden’s inauguration, respected that tradition.
“The president wrote a very generous letter,” Biden told reporters on Wednesday. “Because it was private, I will not talk about it until I talk to him, but it was generous.”
BREAKING: Pres. Biden tells @bgittleson former Pres. Trump wrote him “a very generous letter,” declines to discuss contents “because it was private.” https://t.co/qjeUynJUdz #InaugurationDay pic.twitter.com/AyRExUYtEx
— ABC News (@ABC) January 20, 2021
While the contents of the letter are unknown, CNN reported that it was written on Tuesday night and was a “personal note” that included prayers for the Biden administration and the US as a nation, citing a Trump administration source.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters: “This is a letter that was private … it was both generous and gracious.”
However, Trump did not place the note in the Oval Office himself, delegating the task to an aide instead, Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Jacobs tweeted.
Former Vice President Mike Pence also left a letter for Vice President Kamala Harris on his old desk in the West Wing, Jacobs said.
Former first lady Melania Trump left first lady Dr. Jill Biden a note as well, CNN reported.
As he departed the White House in 2017, President Barack Obama left a letter for Trump in which he commended his “remarkable run.”
“Millions have placed their hopes in you, and all of us, regardless of party, should hope for expanded prosperity and security during your tenure,” Obama wrote.
After becoming president in 2017, Trump installed a box on the Resolute Desk containing a red button that when pressed would summon Diet Coke.
Footage from Biden’s evening in the Oval Office appeared to show that the button had been removed.
In his final speech as president before leaving Washington, DC, on Wednesday morning, Trump wished the Biden administration “great luck and great success.”
“We will be back in some form,” he added.