As President Donald Trump prepared to take office on Inauguration Day, Barack Obama quietly vacated the West Wing. But Obama left something behind during his exit: a letter, one that traditionally passes between two presidents as the highest office in the land changes hands. "We just went to the Oval Office and found this beautiful letter from President Obama. It was really very nice of him to do that," Trump bragged to the press several days later, adding, "We won't even tell the press what's in that letter."
On Sept. 2, CNN finally obtained that letter, exclusively. The missive is a reminder of the grace and well-spoken nature of the 44th president and a testament to the time he spent reflecting on the state of the union. Most notable, however, are the incredibly astute pieces of advice that Obama wanted to pass on to the new commander-in-chief. From a tip on leadership to a reminder about the importance of those you surround yourself with, the gracious "reflections" feel like a stolen moment between two incredibly powerful men.
Below you'll find the four items Obama put forth to Trump in the note he left on the Resolute desk of the Oval Office.
Remember those less fortunate than yourself.
"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."
Lead by example, and lead the world.
"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."
Protect the American democracy and its institutions.
"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."
Spend time with your loved ones.
"Take time, in the rush of events and responsibilities, for friends and family. They'll get you through the inevitable rough patches."