White House resident staffers recently recounted former United States President Donald Trump's final hours in the oval office, which were unprecedentedly quiet due to the riots at the US Capitol.
Current and former staffers at the President's residence spoke with The New Yorker about its transfer from Donald Trump's family to current US President Joe Biden's family. Susannah Jacob, a former aide from the Obama administration, recalled that the Trump family and the Biden family were like "night and day" when it came to social distancing practices.
Outgoing first couple Donald Trump and Melania Trump gathered all the staff in one room to offer a brief thank you before leaving the house on January 20. However, the staffers spaced out in a line to greet new President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden, the new first lady of the United States.
Donald Trump, his wife Melania, and their son Barron's departure from the White House for their Mar-a-logo home in Florida happened around 8 am that day. Chief Usher Timothy Harleth "presented the couple with the flags that had flown over the White House during their time there, a long-standing tradition," before they walked to Marine One and headed south.
Biden arrived at their new home hours later, after attending the inauguration at the US Capitol. A residence worker recalls: "The Bidens came in and the first thing they did was make a loop of the State Floor and greet the staff. We were all very flattered. Usually we meet them in the first days or first weeks, but never in the first minutes."
According to the outlet, the new President told the staffers: "We're glad we're here, too."
Ahead of the handoff between Trump and Biden administrations, the chief usher Timothy Harleth worked with a creative manager to make the White House's residential floors "Architectural Digest-ready." New stationery was brought in and bookcases were filled with decorative plates and candles. Harleth himself bid goodbye soon as he was dismissed as an usher just before Trump's term expired.
A Biden official previously told CNN that the decision to remove him was not taken by the Biden administration, though Harleth himself suggested otherwise noting that "every family deserves to have the people they want there."
Harleth, who was serving as rooms manager at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., had been hired at the White House in 2017. He replaced Angella Reid, the first female chief usher, who was let go by the Trumps after serving under Barack and Michelle Obama.
Speaking to the outlet, Harleth explained that the White House staffers don't express their allegiance to any particular party, as he himself voted for Bernie Sanders despite working for Trump. He says that other members of the staff taught him "the value and the meaning of service to the country — that's what they do every day, through their service to the Presidency."
The staffers recall that a lot of differences were made in the house four years ago as well, when the Trumps took over the house from the Obamas. Former calligrapher Jonathan Lee says that while the Obamas had never before "had a staff of housekeepers and craved privacy," the Trumps treated their staff like a "twenty-four-hour concierge desk."