Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock President Joe Biden in the Oval Office after his inauguration on Wednesday. A 2009 photo of Beau Biden (back left) is seen behind the Resolute Desk.
Signing his first set of executive orders on Wednesday, President Joe Biden confirmed reports that former President Donald Trump had left him a note in the Oval Office Resolute Desk upon leaving that morning.
"The president wrote a very generous letter," Biden, 78, said, speaking to reporters in the Oval Office after being sworn in Wednesday. "Because it was private, I will not talk about it until I talk to him. But, uh, it was generous."
Trump spokesman Judd Deere earlier told reporters that Trump, 74, had left a letter for Biden at the White House before vacating the capital and departing for West Palm Beach Wednesday morning.
The spokesman also did not disclose the contents of Trump's note.
New White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters later Wednesday that Biden would be keeping the letter private for the time being but she described it as "gracious." In response to a question, she said the exchange should not be taken to mean Biden would be setting up a phone call with Trump soon.
The tradition of leaving a note for the incoming president is one stemming back to 1989, during President Reagan's handoff to George H.W. Bush, when Regan left his then-vice president a cartoon drawing of an elephant covered in turkeys, captioning it: "Don't let the turkeys get you down."
Though traditional, the news that Trump had left his own successor a letter was somewhat unexpected in light of the former president's behavior in recent months, including his near-refusal to accept that he lost the election to Biden.
Following his November loss of both the popular and electoral college votes, Trump spent months claiming that the election was "rigged" against him and never publicly congratulated his rival, instead attempting to overthrow the results of the race in courts across the country.
In December, the Supreme Court rejected a Texas lawsuit aimed at throwing out the election results in four swing states the president lost, signaling a final blow to Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election via lawsuits.
Still, Trump continued claiming — without evidence — that the election was "rigged."
Two weeks prior to Wednesday's inauguration, Trump spoke to a crowd at a "Stop the Steal" rally near the White House, telling his supporters to march to the Capitol and "fight like Hell."
Roughly an hour later, a violent mob of those supporters stormed the Capitol, leading to a deadly scene.
Trump, blamed by politicians on both sides of the aisle for inciting the violence, was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives one week later, permanently suspended from Twitter, and has since seen a host of his business relationships deteriorate.
He has claimed that his words did not incite the violence, saying they were "totally appropriate."
In departure remarks to his supporters, Trump did not mention Biden by name on Wednesday, instead focusing on his administration's achievements before telling a crowd including most of his children: "Have a good life. We will see you soon."