Barack Obama Donald Trump letter inauguration day

Photo via Pete Souza/White House

Here’s the letter Barack Obama left for Donald Trump on his inauguration day

'Millions have placed their hopes in you, and all of us, regardless of party, should hope for expanded prosperity and security during your tenure.'


Josh Katzowitz


Posted on Sep 3, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 6:35 pm CDT

It’s become a tradition for outgoing U.S. presidents to leave their successors a nice little note on inauguration day so the incoming president can feel a confidence boost before the beginning of what will undoubtedly be the most difficult four or eight years of their lives.

Bill Clinton told George W. Bush that the “burdens you now shoulder are great but often exaggerated” and the “sheer joy of doing what you believe is right is inexpressible.”

Bush, meanwhile, told Obama there would 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. No matter what comes, you will be inspired by the character and compassion of the people you now lead.”

Now, CNN has obtained Obama’s letter to Trump, a note that seemingly touched Trump.

Here’s the 275-word letter in full.

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,



A few days later, Trump lauded the note and said was “a beautiful letter” that was “so well written.” Trump even called Obama and left a message to thank him for his words.

The letter’s release came a day after Trump’s Department of Justice said there was no evidence of Trump’s claim in March that Obama had wiretapped his Trump Tower offices.


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*First Published: Sep 3, 2017, 9:05 am CDT