President Joe Biden thanked outgoing President Trump for leaving a private letter for him on the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office that he said was “very generous.”
Reporters asked him about the letter on Wednesday as he signed numerous executive orders basically undoing a number of items that President Trump had accomplished during his tenure. Despite the fact that Trump and Biden are not fans of one another and Trump skipped Biden’s inauguration, Biden still had some rare, kind words for Trump.
President Trump chose to continue the tradition of leaving a letter for the incoming president on the Resolute Desk. Biden appeared to appreciate the gesture. A senior Trump aide described the letter to CNN as a “personal note” that prays for the success of the country and for the new administration to care for the country. The aide said writing the letter to Biden was one of the many items on Trump’s list in the Oval Office Tuesday night.
“The president wrote a very generous letter,” a tired-sounding Biden said. “Because it was private, I won’t talk about it until I talk to him. But it was generous.” During press secretary Jen Psaki’s first briefing on Wednesday evening, she suggested there was no scheduled call between the two men.
“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, but I wouldn’t take it as an indication of a pending call with the former president,” Psaki said.
There has been much speculation and many jokes about what was contained in the letter. It was most likely a professional and cordial welcome to the new president.
The Five’s Jesse Watters reported tongue-in-cheek:
“You know we do have some news that I’m going to break here… some of my sources have read the letter that the president left for Joe Biden in the Resolute Desk. I’ll just read it here. It says:”
“To make you feel at home, I drew you a map to show you how to get to the basement. You’re welcome.”
“I don’t have any advice for you since I just went with my instincts here every day. I have great instincts as you well know. That’s why I fired Comey.”
“Here’s a little heads-up. Space Force was actually a joke but it caught on so we kind of just went with it. So good luck with that.”
“P.S. Thanks for building the cages.”
“Don’t touch the wall, I booby-trapped it.”
The memes on social media were never-ending as well.
President Biden took a photo-op with a throng of reporters while signing three of the 15 executive orders in front of him. The three included one that mandates masks and social distancing on federal property, one that promoted “racial equity” in healthcare, and one which stated that the U.S. would rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. Psaki later told reporters at an evening briefing where Biden signed another 12 orders Wednesday.
Psaki also said Biden signed an order ending President Trump’s 2017 travel ban on a group of predominately Muslim countries including Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. Trump said the ban was for security purposes but Psaki called it “the Muslim ban, a policy rooted in religious animus and xenophobia.”
— Grant Stinchfield (@stinchfield1776) January 20, 2021
Psaki said Biden signed orders to halt construction of Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall, rejoin the World Health Organization, resurrect a White House global health team, extend a pandemic ban on evictions and foreclosures, halt student loan payments, reverse Trump environmental deregulation and affirm the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects people brought illegally to the U.S. as children, from deportation. It was a whirlwind of signing meant to negate Trump’s time in office.
Biden also signed a “wide-ranging executive order concerning sexual orientation and gender identity” that prohibits discrimination.
The president was also expected to sign an executive order rescinding a permit for the construction of the Keystone Pipeline between the U.S. and Canada, which drew criticism from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“As a result of the expected revocation of the Presidential Permit, advancement of the project will be suspended,” Keystone XL said in a statement on Wednesday.
Keystone XL President Richard Prior said over 1,000 jobs, the majority unionized, will be eliminated in the coming weeks.
Will we ever know what’s in it?
— ColoradoMom (@kaitynjojomom) January 20, 2021
There were 17 executive orders that Biden was expected to sign, most of them overturning directives of his predecessor. He says that additional orders would come “over the next several days to a week.”
“I thought there’s no time to wait. Get to work immediately,” said Biden. “There’s no time to start like today.”
Biden will need the assistance of Congress to enact further, more substantial measures. But he will employ a host of executive orders to accomplish progressive goals. With Democrats essentially controlling Congress, he is likely to get just about anything he wants at this stage in the game.
“I’m proud of today’s executive actions,” Biden stated. “I’m going to start by keeping the promises I made to the American people. Long way to go. These are just executive actions. They are important but we’ll need legislation for a lot of things we’re going to do.” He’ll no doubt have just that.
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