As one of their last acts during President Donald Trump’s tenure, the Trump team appears to have sacked the chief White House usher.
“It happened before we walked in the door,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Friday when asked about the fate of Timothy Harleth, the former chief usher. Harleth, before his government work began in 2017, was a manager at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.
CNN first noted Harleth’s departure Wednesday but reported he had been fired by the incoming Biden team. The New York Times subsequently reported that Harleth was told at 11:30 a.m., while he was busy moving furniture, “that his services were no longer needed.” The National Journal backed that account.
“The Trumps sent the butlers home when they left so there would be no one to help the Bidens when they arrived,” one unnamed source, described as “a well-placed official not associated with the incoming Biden team,” told the latter publication.
All news accounts of Harleth’s departure note that Biden’s team was not expected to keep him on the White House staff for long. National Journal reported that the chief usher wasn’t expected to stick around beyond “a decent interval.” The Times reported that a Biden lawyer called a Trump White House lawyer Wednesday and said the Bidens planned on bringing in their own usher.
Nonetheless, the chief usher’s absence at the moment of power transfer between the two administrations may have contributed to a bit of a procedural snafu: The Bidens, standing at the White House doors, which remained determinedly shut.