Everyone Is Talking About Why The White House Doors Didn’t Open For The Bidens
25th January 2021

The formalities of the Inauguration were behind them, and the evening’s festivities lay ahead. The Bidens had just gotten to the White House and had made their way up the steps and to the front door of their new home. The band had played “Hail to the Chief,” and by all accounts, the doors to their new home should have swung open… but they didn’t. Instead, the new President and First Lady stood outside hugging until the entire Biden clan arrived, after which the doors swung open to allow them to enter as a family (via The Independent).

As The New York Times points out, the pause didn’t last too long but it was long enough for Washington tongues to start wagging. Lea Berman, former White House social secretary under President George W. Bush, tells the paper it was a protocol breach “when the front doors were not held open for the first family as they arrived at the North Portico,” while another former White House veteran who had worked on changeovers considered the delay to be puzzling.

Numerous outlets linked the protocol breach with the dismissal of White House Usher Timothy Harleth, whose departure has become something of a personnel relations football between the outgoing Trumps and the incoming Bidens.

There are numerous sides to the story

CNN was first to quote two anonymous sources that said Harleth was dismissed by the Bidens, even as it doubled back and quoted a third official as saying that Harleth had been “let go” before the Bidens arrived. One source who was not with the Biden White House told the National Journal that “The Trumps sent the butlers home when they left so there would be no one to help the Bidens when they arrived.”

Harleth’s position was made even more difficult because there was never a meeting between incoming First Lady Jill Biden and her new staff. Still, Harleth told The New York Times saying that he was 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.”

There could be a number of reasons for the protocol breach — but it doesn’t seem like the Bidens have taken the incident to heart. Unless someone comes forward and tells us what happened, we’ll never know what went down that day. We may just have to chalk that up as yet another unorthodox incident to a most unorthodox — yet a most memorable — Inauguration Day. 

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