Stand up for the facts!
Misinformation isn't going away just because it's a new year. Support trusted, factual information with a tax deductible contribution to PolitiFact.
I would like to contribute
If Your Time is short
- Donald Trump did leave a letter for President Joe Biden, but we don’t know its contents.
- We found nothing to corroborate that this letter — which looks different from previous letters Trump sent — is authentic.
Per a relatively recent tradition, former President Donald Trump left a letter for his successor, President Joe Biden.
What did the letter say? The White House won’t tell.
"It’s a letter between 45 and 46," spokesperson Judd Deere told USA Today.
But a Jan. 20 blog post alleged to have a copy.
"I was sent this 5pm British time — and asked not to share for 1 hour," the post said. "This Trump letter was left on the President’s desk for Biden."
Below it, an image of what looks like a letter written on White House stationary, shows a message — dated "20th January 2021" — that reads simply: "Joe, you know I won."
It also appears to be signed by Trump.
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Deere did not respond to PolitiFact’s questions about the post.
But Biden told reporters after his inauguration that Trump had left him a "very generous letter." Like Deere, he declined to disclose any details and said, "because it was private, I won't talk about it until I talk to him."
There’s no evidence that the letter is real. The seal at the top of the letter is not the same seal featured in other official letters Trump sent when he was president. And letters from Trump that have been made public have the month before the day, not the day before the month as it appears here.
The letter is being shared among people who believe the QAnon conspiracy theory. We found no credible sources to confirm the letter’s authenticity. It seems more akin to the guesses other people are jokingly making about the letter’s contents.
We rate this claim False.
Blog post, Letter for Biden, Jan. 20, 2021
The New York Times, Read Trump’s letter to Pelosi protesting impeachment, Dec. 17, 2019
USA Today, Donald Trump leaves letter for Joe Biden ahead of inauguration, Jan. 21, 2021
Fast Company, The internet has hilarious guesses about the letter Trump reportedly left for Biden, Jan. 20, 2021
Politico, Trump leaves parting Oval Office letter for Biden, Jan. 21, 2021
NPR, Fact-checking and assessing Trump’s letter of rebuke to WHO, May 20, 2020
Politico, "Don’t be a fool!" Trump threatened Turkish president in letter, Oct. 16, 2019
Los Angeles Times, Trump sent a retired teacher a letter about gun policy. She fixed the grammar and sent it back, June 1, 2018
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.