Watch: Biden says Trump left him a generous letter
New president Joe Biden says that Donald Trump left him a “very generous” letter in the Oval Office.
Despite breaking with tradition and not attending his successor’s inauguration, Mr Trump did decide to leave Mr Biden a letter in the historic Resolute desk.
But Mr Biden, who got to work in the Oval Office hours after being sworn in, said he would not publicly share the contents of the letter until he had a chance to speak with Mr Trump.
"The president wrote a very generous letter," said Mr Biden about Mr Trump, who left the White House for Florida early on Wednesday.
"Because it was private, I won't talk about it until I talk to him. But it was generous."
It has long been tradition that outgoing presidents leave their successors words of wisdom and – ideally – encouragement as state power transfers from one individual to the next.
In Mr Obama's letter, he called on Mr Trump to look out for the less fortunate, to honour the US's position as a world leader, and to protect the institutions of the country.
"First, we’ve both been blessed, in different ways, with great good fortune. Not everyone is so lucky. It’s up to us to do everything we can (to) build more ladders of success for every child and family that’s willing to work hard," Mr Obama wrote.
He then advised Mr Trump to appreciate the US's global influence and the ability the president had to steer that power.
"Second, American leadership in this world really is indispensable. It’s up to us, through action and example, to sustain the international order that’s expanded steadily since the end of the Cold War, and upon which our own wealth and safety depend," he wrote.
Mr Obama then directed Mr Trump to respect and maintain American institutions, regardless of day-to-day political developments.
"Third, we are just temporary occupants of this office. That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions – like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties – that our forebears fought and bled for. Regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it’s up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them," he wrote.
The former president closed the letter by advising Mr Trump to remember to make time for his friends and family.
Numerous reported indicated that Mr Trump left a note for Mr Biden in the same tradition. It is currently unclear what Mr Trump wrote in his note.
Mr Biden said the letter was “generous” during a press conference but declined to provide further information on its contents.
Mr Trump refused to concede the election to Mr Biden, even as he was leaving the White House. Following the 2020 election, Mr Trump forwarded numerous conspiracy theories alleging the election had been stolen from him, and that massive voter fraud had taken place.
None of Mr Trump's claims were ever substantiated, despite more 50 court cases in support of the former president's claims being defeated in court.
Mr Biden said Mr Trump was unfit for the office of president.
Mr Trump was impeached for a second time following the events of the US Capitol insurrection on 6 January. His trial in the Senate will begin during the beginning of Mr Biden's administration, and will likely cause confirmation hearings for his administration to be delayed.
In Mr Biden's inauguration speech, he called for unity between liberals and conservatives, calling for an end to the "uncivil war" caused by the polarised political ideologies in the country.
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