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Saturday, 30 January 2021

Joe Biden and Donald Trump have still not spoken, White House says - and letter from the ex-president will stay private

 President Joe Biden plans to keep his letter from Donald Trump private, the White House said on Friday, and revealed the two men still haven't spoken.

'There are no calls to report,' White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at her briefing. 'I don't have any update on the letter.'

'He plans to keep it private,' she said of the note.


Trump honored the presidential tradition of leaving a letter in the Oval Office for his successor. It was unclear if he was going to do so given his challenges to the election results and his false claims it was stolen from him.

But there was a letter waiting for Biden on the resolute desk when he entered the Oval Office on January 20th. 

'The president wrote a very generous letter,' Biden said at the time. 'Because it was private, I won't talk about it until I talk to him. But it was generous.' 

The letter will eventually become public - all notes outgoing presidents leave for their successors become archived under The Presidential Records Act and go to the National Archives and Records Administration. 

President Joe Biden plans to keep his letter from Donald Trump private

President Joe Biden plans to keep his letter from Donald Trump private

Donald Trump followed presidential tradition and left a letter for his successor to Oval Office

Donald Trump followed presidential tradition and left a letter for his successor to Oval Office

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that President Biden still hasn't spoken to former President Donald Trump

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that President Biden still hasn't spoken to former President Donald Trump

The two men, however, haven't spoken. It's believed the last time they spoke was at their final presidential debate on October 22. 

Trump, however, called his predecessor, Barack Obama, to thank him for the letter left when he took office. 

He told ABC News he appreciated the letter from Obama, saying: 'It was long. It was complex. It was thoughtful. And it took time to do it. And I appreciated it. And I called him and thanked him.' 

But the outgoing President Trump eschewed the traditional trappings that come with a peaceful transfer of power. 

Trump did not host Biden at the White House for coffee after the election and did not greet him at residence's front door ahead of the inauguration ceremony.

Additionally, Trump did not mention his successor by name in any of his farewell address. He never formally conceded the election and merely acknowledged a 'new administration' is coming into the White House. 

He did not attend Biden's swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol and was at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida by the time Biden took the oath of office.

The tradition of the presidential note goes back to President Ronald Reagan, who left one for his successor George H.W. Bush.

Reagan left a short, pithy note on stationary that read 'Don't let the turkeys get you down' - with an illustration of an elephant surrounded by turkeys.

'George, I treasure the memories we share and I wish you all the very best. You'll be in my prayers,' he wrote. 

George H.W. Bush's note to the man who defeated him, Bill Clinton, has been held up as example of graciousness and bipartisan unity.

'There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I'm not a very good one to give advice; but just don't let the critics discourage you or push you off course,' he wrote.

'You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well. Your success now is our country's success. I am rooting hard for you,' he added.

Ronald Reagan's note to George H.W. Bush started the presidential tradition of the outgoing president leaving a note for his successor

Ronald Reagan's note to George H.W. Bush started the presidential tradition of the outgoing president leaving a note for his successor

George H.W. Bush's note to Bill Clinton

George H.W. Bush's note to Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton's note to George W. Bush

Bill Clinton's note to George W. Bush

George W. Bush's note to Barack Obama

George W. Bush's note to Barack Obama


Clinton left just a gracious note for his successor, Bush's son George W. Bush: 'You lead a proud, decent, good people. And from this day you are President of all of us. I salute you and wish you success and much happiness.' 

W. Bush, in return, wrote to Barack Obama: 'There will be trying moments. The critics will rage. Your 'friends' will disappoint you. But, you will have an Almighty God to comfort you, a family who loves you, and a country that is pulling for you, including me. No matter what comes, you will be inspired by the character and compassion of the people you now lead. 

And Obama wrote to Donald Trump: 'Congratulations on a 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.'


He added about the importance of civic institutions: '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.'

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