After spending months disputing the results of an election he lost—and never publicly congratulating the new president—Donald Trump reportedly left a note for Joe Biden before departing the White House Wednesday morning.
Trump spokesperson Judd Deere confirmed Wednesday that Trump, 74, left the letter for Biden, 78, in the Oval Office’s Resolute Desk before vacating the White House and departing for West Palm Beach Wednesday morning. The spokesman did not disclose the contents of Trump’s note, which follows a tradition dating to President Reagan’s handoff to George H.W. Bush in 1989. (Reagan left his then-vice president a cartoon drawing of a cartoon elephant covered in turkeys, captioning it, “Don’t let the turkeys get you down.”)
In departure remarks to his supporters, Trump did not mention Biden by name on Wednesday, instead focusing on his administration’s achievements before telling a crowd including most of his children: “Have a good life. We will see you soon.”
The former president then boarded Air Force One for the final time en route to his Florida resort.
CNN reported that former First Lady Melania Trump also left a “short note of welcome” for Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden.
Earlier this month, Trump took to Twitter to confirm that he would not be attending his successor’s swearing-in, a break with history and tradition.
“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th,” Trump wrote.
That announcement came amid a turbulent transfer of power in which Trump attempted to overthrow the results of the election through lawsuits in several states around the country.
Even after those attempts failed, Trump continued to make unfounded election claims eventually inciting a mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6 in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College results naming Biden the 2020 winner.
It wasn’t until the following day, Jan. 7, after the insurrection was quelled and Congress finished its business certifying Biden’s election, that Trump publicly conceded, pleading an “orderly transition of power” but stopping short of congratulating Biden.
Though he has now officially left office, Trump still faces trial in the Senate on impeachment charges approved by the House for his role in inciting the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
As Biden and Harris were sworn into office just before noon on Wednesday—on the same west front of the Capitol that was overrun by rioters exactly three weeks earlier—the history-making new executive duo were joined by former presidents and First Ladies, Supreme Court justices, and congressional leadership from both sides of the political aisle.
While Trump refused to partake in the American tradition of attending his successor’s swearing-in—long a powerful symbol of democracy’s peaceful transition of power—the outgoing vice president Mike Pence and other leading Republicans including Sen. Mitch McConnell did attend.
In his last hours in office, Pence (who reports suggest has soured on Trump since the violence of Trump supporters at the Capitol) skipped Trump’s Wednesday morning send-off to attend instead the inauguration of Biden and Harris.
Along with Pence and his wife, Karen, former First Ladies Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush (each sporting some shade of bipartisan purple) were all in attendance, as were former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Wednesday’s inaugural events took place under unprecedented circumstances, amid a global pandemic and in the wake of the deadly attack on the Capitol.
The Secret Service, Capitol Police and Pentagon coordinated an extraordinary level of security for Biden’s Inauguration Day, with eight-foot tall fences surrounding the U.S. Capitol and thousands of National Guard troops stationed around Washington D.C.