Trump ‘Cherished’ Letter Obama Left Him When He Took Over, Then Did The Opposite Of What It Said

It has become customary for a president, upon leaving the office to the next holder of the title, to leave a note of encouragement. Different presidents, of course, have done it differently. Back in 1992, George H. W. Bush left Bill Clinton a note that famously said “I am rooting hard for you. Good luck.” Clinton likewise left one for the elder Bush’s son, as George W. did for Barack Obama.

But when Obama quietly folded his letter and placed it in a drawer in the Resolute Desk, it contained more than just platitudes and well wishes. In addition to being twice as long — Obama is a speaker, after all — it was filled with not only an account of how powerful a position it is, but also advice on how to handle the job with grace and humility

Although Trump has never publicly read the letter aloud, he has often spoken of how much he cherishes it, when he’s not busy tweeting about what a horrible president Barack Obama was. Now CNN has obtained a copy of the letter from a person that Trump once showed it to:

Some highlights:

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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.

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.

[W]e 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.

As you can see, President Obama left Trump with a lot of advice he has definitely not followed. From Trump’s sustained focus on repealing his predecessor’s signature health care bill to his determination to cut social spending in order to fund more tax cuts for the wealthy, he hasn’t built any ladders of success. In his constant tweets threatening North Korea and belittling China, Mexico, and even allies like Australia and Germany, Trump hasn’t done much for “international order.”

But on the last few points, Trump has failed spectacularly. He has zero respect for the rule of law or separation of powers, and has proven himself an enemy of equal protection and civil liberties.

President Obama’s letter couldn’t have surfaced at a more perfect time to highlight the differences between the man we got used to seeing handle disasters, terrorism, tragedies, and diplomacy humbly and the man-child who scoffs now at even the most common social norms.

If only it had been a set of rules.


Featured image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images