White House says Biden won’t release ‘gracious’ letter from Trump unless they speak to each other

Biden (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Biden (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

President Joe Biden will keep the letter his predecessor left him in the Oval Office private, according to the White House, which reiterated his comments on Friday that former President Donald Trump’s note was “gracious.”

Though the former president failed to concede in the 2020 elections and declined to attend the Inauguration Day ceremonies, he left a “very generous letter” in the White House before departing for Florida, Mr Biden said earlier this month, adding: “Because it was private, I will not talk about it until I talk to him, but it was generous.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday there were no calls to report between Mr Biden and Mr Trump, and that the letter would remain effectively private until further notice.

Asked if the president had spoken with Mr Trump since his inauguration, Ms Psaki said at the daily press briefing: “There are no calls to report on, and I don’t have any update on the letter.

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“The President of course thought the letter was gracious and generous,” she added, “but he plans to keep it private.”

The press secretary previously declined to provide additional information about the letter, saying Mr Biden was “not planning to release the letter unilaterally” at a briefing on the night of his inauguration.

“This is a letter that was private,” she told reporters. “As he said to you all, it was both generous and gracious.”

Every president since Ronald Reagan has left a note in the Oval Office for their successor, and each of those has been released to the public shortly after the inaugural ceremonies.

In a 2017 letter left in the Resolute Desk for Mr Trump, former President Barack Obama wrote: “Millions have placed their hopes in you, and all of us, regardless of party, should hope for expanded prosperity and security during your tenure.”

Former President George W Bush also expressed his best wishes for Mr Obama in a letter that said: “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.”

Mr Trump publicly thanked Mr Obama for his letter in an interview with ABC News shortly after his inauguration, saying he “appreciated” how his predecessor “took the time to do it” and adding: “It was long. It was complex. It was thoughtful.”

Mr Trump reportedly wrote the letter on the final night of his presidency. It was delivered to the Oval Office by an aide after he had already left the White House.

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