- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 3, 2017

Former President Barack Obama urged then-incoming President Trump to uphold America’s leadership on the global stage, guard democratic institutions and build “ladders of success” for the needy in the secret letter he left for his successor at the Oval Office.

The outgoing Democrat also urged Mr. Trump to lean on family and friends to get through the hard times, according to text of the letter published by CNN on Sunday.

“Congratulations on a remarkable run,” Mr. Obama wrote in his opening line. “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,” Mr. Obama continued. “Still, let me offer a few reflections from the past eight years.”

The letter left in the White House’s Resolute Desk reminds Mr. Trump that both men have been lucky in different ways, so it’s important to lift up the downtrodden at home, while upholding the post-Cold War order around the world, “upon which our own wealth and safety depend.”

Third, he reminded Mr. Trump that he would have to pass the torch one day.

“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,” he wrote. “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.”

Past presidents have written similar letters to their successors, so Mr. Obama was following a long tradition.

Mr. Trump gushed over the letter upon taking office, saying it was a gracious message from the former president.

Of course, Mr. Trump was not Mr. Obama’s preferred recipient.

The two-term president wanted to pass his duties on to his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College to Mr. Trump. His historic run against the Washington establishment resonated with Rust Belt voters and others disillusioned with politics as usual.

Mr. Obama was also the target of personal attacks from Mr. Trump, especially over his birth certificate, and the outgoing president spent an unusually large amount of time on the campaign trail for Mrs. Clinton.

Since taking office, Mr. Trump has frequently complained that Mr. Obama left him a “mess,” citing trade and the U.S. economy and global issues such as North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Mr. Obama also has not been as fastidious as other ex-presidents at staying out of current politics, accusing Mr. Trump of “rejecting the future” for scrapping his Paris climate deal.

The White House letter offered a brief respite from the friction.

“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,” Mr. Obama wrote. “Good luck and Godspeed, BO.”

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