President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama haven’t spoken to each other since the day five months ago when President Obama left the White House after the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. CNN wrote that their last interaction was the official goodbye when President Trump watched Obama fly away in a military helicopter to take up his new life after two full terms as POTUS.
Usually, leaders communicate to help smooth the transition, but this change-over of Oval Office occupants has been different from any other in recent history. Even though Trump is known for asking advice far outside the usual White House circles, including from foreign leaders not on good terms with the United States, he hasn’t reached out to the former president for help in getting to grips with the job.
White House insiders say that there’s no working relationship between the two men, and no attempt has been made to bridge the gap that divides the Trump administration from that of the former president. Trump and Obama have a “long and bitter history,” that only got worse when Donald Trump accused Obama of tapping Trump Tower in New York City.
Under the circumstances, it’s not a shock that they aren’t on better terms now, but it’s highly unusual that two presidents would not even have a phone conversation in the months immediately after a new POTUS takes power.
“It’s unprecedented for a sitting president and his predecessor to eschew even the faintest of ties.”
The lack of communication became even more surprising after news of a personal letter from Obama to Trump came to light. On Sunday, September 3, CNN revealed that the outgoing president hand-wrote a letter to Donald Trump during his last minutes in the Oval Office, and Trump called to personally thank him for the gesture.
The 275-word letter, written on White House stationery and left in the top drawer of the famous Resolute Desk, was part of a presidential tradition going back decades. Presidents haven’t always gotten along personally, but they’ve all attempted to make the new incumbent’s job a little bit easier by passing on tips and encouragement. Most of the time, the offered help isn’t limited to one letter as they continue to have conversations and even meetings.
There was no indication at the time that Trump would cut ties with Obama. He was reportedly very happy to receive the letter and made a point of immediately placing a call to the outgoing president to thank him. “And it took time to do it, and I appreciated it,” he later said.
Unfortunately, Obama was traveling and unable to take the call. When his aides reached out to the White House to return the call, the two men didn’t connect directly. Instead, staffers said that President Trump wanted to thank Obama for the “thoughtful” offering.
The mutual attitudes of appreciation and respect over the presidential letter boded well for a future good relationship that has entirely failed to develop.
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]