Biden told reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday that Trump wrote him “a very generous” letter. But he called the contents private and said he wouldn’t share more until he had a chance to speak with Trump.
A spokesman for the Trump administration said before Biden was inaugurated that Trump left a note for Biden, following a presidential tradition.
Then-White House press secretary Judd Deere didn’t elaborate on the contents, citing privacy concerns.
Asked about the letter and whether a phone call is pending during a briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters: “This was a letter that was private, and it was both generous and gracious. And it was just a reflection of him not planning to release the letter unilaterally, but I wouldn’t take it as an indication of a pending call with the former president.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence also reportedly left a note for Vice President Kamala Harris, and Trump’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany left notes for Biden’s incoming press officials.
Former President Barack Obama left a note in 2017 to Trump that read in part: “This is a unique office, without a clear blueprint for success, so I don’t know that any advice from me will be particularly helpful … 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.”
And before that, former President George W. Bush left a letter to his successor: “Very few have had the honor of knowing the responsibility you now feel. Very few know the excitement of the moment and the challenges you will face … 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.”
Trump departed Washington for Florida on Wednesday morning, skipping all inauguration ceremonies.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.