Who fired White House usher? Biden and Trump teams blame each other for First Family's awkward wait at the door
The Bidens had to wait for 10 seconds before they were let inside the White House and this was a protocol breach
On Wednesday, January 20, when President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden walked up the driveway to their new home, they reportedly came face-to-face with a closed door. As per reports, this ten-second-long awkward moment, when the front doors were not held open for them, was a “protocol breach” as per Lea Berman, who served as a White House social secretary for President George W Bush. There was no usher to greet the new residents of the White House.
As per our previous report, Timothy Harleth, who was the chief usher of the White House during the Trump administration and was supposed to welcome the Bidens, was fired less than five hours before the event. As per the New York Times, Harleth, a former rooms-manager of the Trump International Hotel in Washington — chosen as the chief usher by Melania Trump in 2017 when she was the First Lady — was busy moving furniture on Inauguration Day when he was told at 11.30 am that his services were no longer needed. Melania Trump said in 2017, “he was selected because of his impressive work history and management skills.”
So far, President Trump’s administration has been blamed for this. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at her briefing on Friday, January 22, “It happened before we walked in the door.” A well-placed official not associated with the incoming Biden team told National Journal, “The Trumps sent the butlers home when they left so there would be no one to help the Bidens when they arrived.”
Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff, was reportedly unhappy with Harleth for trying to send briefing books about the residence to the Biden transition team in November. But a former senior administration official with President Trump told the Daily Mail that the firing came at the request of the Bidens. “The head usher enjoyed the confidence of the Trump family throughout his tenure. Any suggestion that his resignation was at the direction of anyone other than the Biden team is false.”
After he was fired, Harleth said in a statement, “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. 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.”
It's currently unclear who Jill Biden will appoint to replace Harleth. A number of his deputy chief ushers have remained in their positions under the new administration. 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.
Before Harleth, Angella Reid was the first woman to serve in the role. She came on during the Obama administration in 2011 from a position as the general manager at the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City. Reid was dismissed from her position by the Trumps within months of their entry into the White House.