On his last day in office, President Obama carried on a time-honoured tradition, stepping into the Oval Office for the last time and leaving a hand-written letter addressed to ‘Mr President’ for his successor.
These letters are often closely guarded for years before being made public, but Obama’s 279-word letter to President Trump has been leaked to the press just seven months into his tenure.
CNN reports that Obama refused to show the letter to even his closest confidants. Since then, however, Trump has showed it to visitors in the Oval Office or his private White House residence. CNN obtained a copy from someone Trump showed it to.
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,
The letter is longer than those left by previous presidents and offers some sage advice to President Trump, who had never help the position of ‘politician’ before taking office.
Obama presses the importance of American leadership in the world and urges Trump to respect the justice system, free press and civil liberties — all three of which have been a source of conflict for Trump throughout his presidency.
In an interview with ABC News a week after taking office, Trump said he appreciated the letter and the time it took to write it.
“It was long. It was complex. It was thoughtful,” he said