On Inauguration Day, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill were momentarily left standing in the cold outside the front doors of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue after they failed to be welcomed. This was a breach of protocol caused by the White House’s chief usher having been fired hours earlier.
As the world watched on Wednesday, the 46th President and his wife walked to their new home’s front doors with a few family members following close behind.
The Biden couple then posed for photos outside the North Portico’s large doors, waving to the crowd as a military band played “Hail to the Chief” in the background.
They embraced each other before turning to go inside their new home, but the doors didn’t open.
It was an awkward, albeit short, 10 seconds as President Biden stared at the door before turning around to show his family members how confused he was.
Eventually, the doors swung open to let them in; however, it remains unclear whether the couple opened the doors themselves or whether someone on the inside opened the doors for them.
Marine guards typically open the White House doors. Still, the chief usher is in charge of greeting the incoming president and his family on Inauguration Day and overseeing operations at the residence.
The problem was that chief usher Harleth wasn’t there to greet the Bidens when they arrived because he had been fired around five hours earlier, hence the front doors remaining shut for longer than they should have.
Harleth was Trumps’ chief usher, and he told the New York Times that he had been moving furniture on Inauguration Day when he was told at 11:30 am that his services were no longer needed.
Reportedly, Biden’s aides had called the White House saying that the incoming president would be bringing in someone else to take over Harleth’s role.
After Election Day, Harleth had found himself stuck between a rock and a hard place as he attempted to prepare the White House for the new tenants while the current occupant did not want to admit defeat and concede the race.
Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows had reportedly become angered at Harleth’s attempt to send briefing books about the residence to the Biden transition team after he was confirmed to be the winner.
Harleth made a statement to the New York Times where he said, “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.”
As of the moment, it remains unclear who will be appointed to replace Harleth.
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