Who is Timothy Harleth: The man that will defy history and welcome Biden to the White House instead of Trump

Gino Spocchia
·2-min read
<p>Joe and Jill Biden</p> (AFP via Getty)

Joe and Jill Biden

(AFP via Getty)

Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th US president on Wednesday in a ceremony lacking some traditional elements, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic and Donald Trump, who will be absent.

The outgoing president has not invited Mr Biden for the traditional meeting at the White House and has refused to attend the inauguration ceremony.

On Wednesday the White House chief usher, Timothy Harleth, will instead make history when he welcomes the Bidens to the executive mansion before the president-elect travels to the US Capitol, to be sworn in as Mr Trump’s successor.

Where will the Trumps be?

The 45th president and Melania Trump will leave Washington DC on Wednesday morning, after a private 21-gun salute, according to reports.

The Trumps will break with precedent by not inviting the Bidens to the White House before the inauguration ceremony, as the Obamas did when Mr Trump became president, and presidents before them.

Nor will the Trumps and the Bidens travel together to the ceremony at the US Capitol, now cleaned up after Mr Trump’s supporters besieged the legislature two weeks ago.

Mr Trump will become only the fourth president in US history to avoid an inauguration ceremony.

Who will welcome the Bidens to the White House?

Mr Biden and Jill Biden will be welcomed on the north portico’s steps by the White House chief usher, Timothy Harleth, on Wednesday morning.

Mr Harleth has been planning the Bidens’ move, the New York Times reported, and has overseen the transition taking place inside the White House. He has also been in contact with the incoming first couple.

As the usher, Mr Harleth has overseen the removal of the Trumps’ belongings, as well as a deep cleaning of the building. He is the highest-ranking resident staffer.

Will Timothy Harleth stay on at the White House?

Mr Harleth was appointed as chief usher by Melania Trump in 2017, having previously been a director of rooms at the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC less than a mile away from the White House.

Mr Harleth is the ninth person to serve as White House chief usher. Previous ushers have had a military background, or a history as a nonpolitical public servant, according to the New York Times.

Due to his appointment by the Trumps, and previous connection to the Trump Organisation, the Bidens could replace Mr Harleth with another usher. However, there is no indication that will happen soon.

Mr Harleth has reportedly indicated that he wants to stay on in the role, and does not want to be seen as a loyalist to Mr Trump, who reportedly only met him once, at his interview for the role.

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