Tom Swarbrick 10pm - 1am
Donald Trump left 'very generous' letter for Joe Biden in Oval Office desk
21 January 2021, 06:11
Former US President Donald Trump refused to follow many inauguration traditions, but there was one has has completed - leaving a letter in the Oval Office desk for Joe Biden.
Trump, having refused to concede that he lost the election, refused to attend the ceremony swearing in Biden as 46th US President, preferring instead to flee to his home of Mar a Lago.
He and former First Lady Melania Trump refused to welcome Biden and incoming First Lady Jill Biden to the White House, something that would usually symbolise a peaceful transition of power.
But speaking from his new office as he signed a raft of executive orders reversing Trump policies, Biden said Trump had left him "a very generous letter."
He added: "Because it was private, I will not talk about it until I talk to him, but it was generous."
It is understood Trump greatly enjoyed the letter President Barack Obama left for him in 2017, so much so that he immediately tried to call and thank him.
But Obama was already on a flight to Palm Springs at the time, so it was left to an aide to call Trump's office back. The two men never spoke directly.
Leaving a letter in the Oval Office's Resolute Desk is seen as a modern tradition of the Presidency, having been started by Ronald Reagan as he passed over to George H W Bush.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki last night also declined to offer more details of what the letter contained, saying: "This is a letter that was private, as he said to you all, it was both generous and gracious, and it was just a reflection of him not planning to release the letter unilaterally."
Trump's refusal to attend the inauguration made him the first living President to refuse to attend the inauguration of his successor since Andrew Johnson in 1869.
It came after a year in which over 400,000 Americans died in the Covid-19 pandemic, and exactly two weeks after Trump incited his supporters to storm the US Capitol, which ultimately left 5 people including a police officer dead.
As one of his first acts as President, The newly-inaugurated US leader wasted no time in getting to work as he signed more than a dozen executive orders as he entered the White House.
Among the key Trump policies overturned were the former president's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, the ban on visitors from some - mainly Muslim - countries, exiting the World Health Organisation and the decision not to mandate mask-wearing for federal employees in federal buildings.
Likewise, Vice President Kamala Harris immediately swore in three new Democratic senators, leaving the upper chamber of Congress evenly split between the two main parties.
As he took the oath of office, Mr Biden said: "Democracy has prevailed."