WASHINGTON — It was the culminating second of a switch of energy: President Biden and the primary woman, Jill Biden, walked up the driveway to their new house late Wednesday, ascended the steps to the North Portico, waved to the gang as a army band performed “Hail to the Chief,” turned to move inside — and got here head to head with a closed door.
Because the world watched and a small crowd of Biden members of the family got here up behind them, the primary couple waited.
Was the president alleged to open the pair of huge wood doorways himself? Had former President Donald J. Trump, who had left eight hours earlier, locked him out?
Quickly sufficient the doorways had been swung open, and the Bidens entered. The awkward second had lasted solely a handful of seconds — about 10, if you happen to time it — but it surely didn’t go unnoticed in Washington.
“There was a protocol breach when the entrance doorways weren’t held open for the primary household as they arrived on the North Portico,” mentioned Lea Berman, who served as a White Home social secretary for President George W. Bush.
“The delay in opening the door did puzzle me a bit,” mentioned Betty Monkman, who was a White Home curator for 30 years and helped supervise changeovers between earlier administrations.
The breach turned out to be a small however curious little bit of disarray within the chaotic two-and-a-half months between Election Day and Inauguration Day. Nothing was regular within the transition from the Trump to the Biden administration, and turning over the White Home to new occupants was no exception.
For one, there was no chief usher to greet the Bidens once they arrived. Though it’s unclear precisely what brought about the delay with the doorways — that are usually opened by Marine guards — the chief usher of the White Home, who manages the residence, had been fired lower than 5 hours earlier.
Timothy Harleth, the Trumps’ chief usher and a former rooms supervisor of the Trump Worldwide Lodge in Washington, was busy moving furniture on Inauguration Day when he was informed at 11:30 a.m. that his companies had been now not wanted, folks acquainted with the method mentioned.
The incoming president’s counsel referred to as the White Home counsel on Wednesday, in accordance with an individual acquainted with the method, and mentioned the Bidens deliberate to herald their very own particular person. Mr. Harleth’s departure was first reported by CNN.
Mr. Harleth was chosen by Melania Trump in 2017, when she was first woman. His duties included dealing with personnel points and overseeing budgets for the household residence.
“He was chosen due to his spectacular work historical past and administration abilities,” Mrs. Trump mentioned in 2017.
The job has historically been nonpolitical, however Mrs. Trump’s resolution to rent a Trump Group worker added partisanship to the position, although Mr. Harleth tried to border his work there as one cease in a protracted profession within the hospitality trade. The White Home job was well-compensated — former chief ushers say salaries run within the $200,000 vary — however the days are lengthy, notably if the president is an early riser or an evening owl; Mr. Trump was each. (Mr. Biden shouldn’t be a morning particular person, folks acquainted with his schedule say.)
Since Election Day, Mr. Harleth had discovered himself in an untenable place: making an attempt to start preparations for a brand new resident within the White Home, at the same time as its occupant refused to concede that he can be leaving the premises. Mr. Trump by no means met with Mr. Biden on the White Home, as is custom. Mrs. Trump additionally by no means invited Dr. Biden to try the residence earlier than move-in day.
Mark Meadows, the previous White Home chief of workers, was sad with Mr. Harleth for making an attempt to ship briefing books concerning the residence to the Biden transition workforce in November, folks acquainted with the method mentioned. A spokesman for Mr. Meadows didn’t reply to a request for remark. A spokesman for Dr. Biden additionally didn’t reply to a request for remark.
It isn’t clear who Dr. Biden will choose to exchange Mr. Harleth, though there are a number of deputy chief ushers who’re mentioned to nonetheless be of their roles.
“It has been an honor to function chief usher, a place whose loyalty is to not a particular president, however moderately to the establishment of the presidency,” Mr. Harleth mentioned in an announcement. “I’m proud that I had the chance to guide the residence workers to obtain the incoming first household with the utmost respect and dignity, not only for this administration, however for the longer term success of the workplace of the president.”