Following longstanding tradition, former President Barack Obama left a letter for incoming President Trump to greet the new Commander-in-Chief on his first day in office. While Trump had previously refused to reveal the contents of the letter, CNN obtained a copy (entire letter below).
In an especially pointed moment, Obama urges Trump to guard “democratic institutions and traditions” and “sustain the international order.” Trump, for his part, had shown little proclivity to do either ahead of taking office. And, unsurprisingly, he has continued his unwillingness to do so now.
Trump was especially gracious for the “long,” “complex,” and “thoughtful” letter from Obama, even conceding that he called and thanked him for it. That has not stopped Trump, however, from spending the better part of his own presidency trying to dismantle the legacy of his predecessor.
Obama’s letter, while cautionary, thoughtful, and articulate, also serves as a reminder of the importance of the office Trump holds, as well as his utter unpreparedness for it.
Read the entire letter below:
Dear Mr. President –
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.
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. Still, let me offer a few reflections from the past 8 years.
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.
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.
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.
And finally, take time, in the rush of events and responsibilities, for friends and family. They’ll get you through the inevitable rough patches.
Michelle and I wish you and Melania the very best as you embark on this great adventure, and know that we stand ready to help in any ways which we can.
Good luck and Godspeed,
Brian Tyler Cohen is a political writer, actor, and comedy sketch director. He graduated from Lehigh University with a dual degree in English and Business. He currently lives in Los Angeles.