In what has become a modern tradition for exiting presidents, President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that former President Donald Trump left a “generous letter” for him before leaving the White House.
Biden said he would not reveal the content of the letter just yet, out of respect for his predecessor, until he had spoken to him about it. However, Biden gave a hint that Trump may have offered useful advice and recommendations that will help the new administration settle in.
A top Trump aide said the letter contained a personal note that the new president would appreciate while wishing Biden all the best in steering the affairs of the country for the next four years. The aide explained that writing the personal note to Biden was one of the priorities of Trump on the eve of his handover to the incoming administration of Biden.
It is surprising that Trump would continue in the tradition of outgoing presidents who have written letters to their successors, considering the fact that the former president failed to have anything to do with Biden. Trump had refused to acknowledge the victory of Biden even into his last days in office.
The practice of keeping letters for the next president by a preceding president started with Ronald Reagan who wrote a brief but candid letter to George H.W. Bush. Bush told the same line by writing to the man who defeated him at the polls, Bill Clinton. Barack Obama also wrote to Trump, wherein he advised on the need to protect civic institutions.
Trump was particularly surprised when he received the note from Obama in 2017 and called the former president immediately. However, Obama was unable to receive his calls since he was still on his way to Palm Springs. When aides of Obama reached back, Trump expressed his thanks, although he never got the chance to speak directly with his predecessor.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki refused to comment on the content of the letter, describing the note as a private talk between two leaders. Psaki confirmed that Biden would only reveal the letter’s content if Trump is consulted. Many top aides of Trump did not get to see the note he left for Biden.
In his farewell speech on Wednesday, Trump wished the new administration luck and success while failing to mention Biden directly. Former Vice President Mike Pence also had a letter waiting for Vice President Kamala Harris. While Trump stayed away, Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, attended the inauguration ceremony.
Biden’s first day in office was spent signing new executive orders, most of which reversed Trump’s policies in areas such as immigration, trade organizations, environmental regulations, and other vital areas.