Biden described the letter Trump left him in the Oval Office as 'very generous' but said he needed to talk to Trump before making its contents public

Bill Bostock
·3 min read
Trump Biden
A composite image of President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images, Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
  • Joe Biden said Donald Trump left him a "very generous" letter but did not elaborate.

  • Outgoing presidents traditionally leave their successor a letter in the Oval Office Resolute Desk.

  • Biden began his term issuing a stream of executive orders, many overturning Trump's policies.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Joe Biden says 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 with his predecessor.

Biden was sworn in Wednesday as the 46th US president, and he 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 by rejoining the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization.

Departing presidents traditionally leave their successors a letter inside the oak desk, and Trump, despite snubbing Biden's inauguration, appears to have respected that tradition.

"The president wrote a very generous letter," Biden told reporters Wednesday. "Because it was private, I will not talk about it until I talk to him, but it was generous."

While the contents of the letter are unknown, CNN reported that it was written 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 the private letter was "both generous and gracious."

The Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Jacobs tweeted, however, that Trump did not place the note in the Oval Office himself but instead delegated the task to an aide.

Read more: Joe Biden is hiring about 4,000 political staffers to work in his administration. Here's how 3 experts say you can boost your chances of getting one of those jobs.

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Biden at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office on Wednesday. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former Vice President Mike Pence also left a letter for Vice President Kamala Harris on his old desk in the West Wing, Jacobs said.

The first lady Melania Trump left her successor, 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.

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