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Barack Obama Offers Trump Advice In Inauguration Letter: ‘American Leadership in This World Really is Indispensable’

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Barack Obama left Donald Trump four pieces of advice in a letter he put in the Oval Office as he was exiting the presidency, urging him to preserve American leadership abroad and safeguard America’s core principles and Democratic institutions, according to a copy of the letter obtained by CNN.

It’s the first time the letter, obtained by CNN exclusively, has been publicized. “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,” Obama began his letter to Trump. “Still, let me offer a few reflections from the past 8 years.”

Acknowledging that both he and his successor were “blessed, in different ways, with great good fortune,” Obama urged Trump to consider policies that would advance the ideal of equal opportunity. “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,” he wrote.

Describing American leadership across the world as “indispensable,” he encouraged Trump to retain it, writing that the stability of the United States depends upon it. And Obama also stressed the importance of preserving the country’s founding 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,” he wrote.

Lastly, he told Trump to rely on his family and friends when the Presidency inevitably became difficult.

The practice of outgoing Presidents leaving a letter in the Oval Office for their successor is a longstanding tradition. Obama received one from his predecessor, George W. Bush, who had received one from Bill Clinton, who had received one from George H.W. Bush.

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Write to Alana Abramson at Alana.Abramson@time.com