Why was there no usher to open door for Joe and Jill Biden? First family has awkward wait at White House entry
It's well over two days after Joe Biden took charge as the 46th POTUS, but some memories on his inauguration day can never be forgotten. One of them was the Bidens walking up to the driveway of their new home, only to find a closed door. Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden climbed the steps of the north portico and waved to the crowd even as 'Hail to the Chief' by the military played at the back, except, they had to wait as a protocol breach saw them stranded for almost 10 seconds according to the New York Times.
Leading to the question of were the Bidens locked out? Talking about the blip, "There was a protocol breach when the front doors were not held open for the first family as they arrived at the North Portico,” said Lea Berman, who served as a White House social secretary for President George W Bush, to the site.
Thank you for being a part of this historic #InaugurationDay, as we begin our national journey to restore the soul of America and bring our country together.— Biden Inaugural Committee (@BidenInaugural) January 20, 2021
Tune back in tonight at 8:30pm ET for our Celebrating America primetime special. pic.twitter.com/JOyoDq7Zt5
For starters, there was no usher to greet the White House. The man, Timothy Harleth, who was the chief usher of the White House during the Trump administration was supposed to welcome the couple and after making headlines the previous day, was fired less than five hours before the event. It was still unclear as to what actually happened and caused the slight delay in opening the doors, normally done by marine guards. In the video shared by the Biden Inaugural Committee on Twitter of the Biden family entering the house, one can see closed doors greeting the Bidens and a momentary halt before the family pushes the door open and moves inside. No guards or officials were seen at the scene.
The White House usher is responsible for the management of the building and oversees residence staff. "Construction, maintenance, remodeling, food, as well as the administrative, fiscal and personnel functions" fall under the role's responsibilities, according to the White House Historical Association.
One of the things that have to be done by the Bidens is the hiring of a new usher to replace Harleth. The site added his successor wasn't appointed yet, however, deputy ushers are still said to be in their roles. Harleth was the highest-ranking resident staffer, the report added. He was appointed as the chief usher in 2017 by Melania Trump succeeding outgoing chief usher, Angella Reid. He is the ninth person to serve as the usher in the White House. Prior to the role, he was the director of rooms at the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC.
"It has been an honor to serve as chief usher, a position whose loyalty is not to a specific president, but rather to the institution of the presidency," Harleth said in a statement. “I am proud that I had the opportunity to lead the residence staff to receive the incoming first family with the utmost respect and dignity, not just for this administration, but for the future success of the office of the president."
The firing does not come as a surprise, although Harleth had expressed interest in staying in his role. The New York Times also added that the former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows was unhappy with Harleth after the latter tried to send briefing books about the residence to the Biden transition team in November 2020. There was no comment from Meadows's spokesman. Previously, the Bidens were never invited to meet the residence staff or take a look at the second floor of the White House, which comprises 16 rooms and six bathrooms.
Reportedly, the White House ushers are pretty well paid. According to former personnel, the salaries are in the $200,000 bracket.