“The residence has come to life again,” a White House source told CNN of the energy inside. “This is the honeymoon time when everything looks new.”
There were nightly movie theater fits in the White House cinema, with snacks from the White House cooks, with many older Bidens’ grandchildren crammed into the seats to watch, another close source said activities. The increase in activity has been accompanied by precautions in the event of a pandemic, in particular the wearing of masks.
“Champ is enjoying his new dog bed by the fireplace and Major enjoyed running around the south lawn,” the White House said in a press release early Monday morning. Champ lived at the Vice President’s residence during the Biden’s stay there, and Major was adopted by the family in 2018 from a Delaware animal rescue.
Biden’s visit to a DC dining establishment on Day 5 of his presidency already ties him to the number of local restaurants visited by former President Donald Trump. During his four years in Washington, Trump rarely ate out and when he did, he only did so in one place – the Trump Hotel steakhouse.
Yet all new people in the White House residence meant tighter Covid-19 precautions, a stark reminder of the pandemic amid a week of festive events.
“The family was good about it,” the White House source said about mask-wearing and social distancing from staff members.
“Every employee is masked, especially when near the family,” added a longtime staff member at the residence who said the Biden family removed their masks once on the second floor of their private quarters. . The staff member told CNN that the majority of the residence’s employees – including ushers, butlers, housekeepers and cooks – have had at least the first round of Covid-19 vaccination and several have received both vaccines.
The White House did not immediately respond to a CNN request to comment on staff vaccinations.
Residence staff are operating “as usual,” the White House’s first source said, noting the departure of Trump’s chief bailiff and hiring manager, Timothy Harleth, on the day of the inauguration. The move was initiated by a senior official in the Biden administration before the first family arrived in the White House. The White House residence staff generally remain in office across different administrations, without political affiliation with presidents and first ladies. But Harleth was hired by Melania Trump in 2017 at the Trump Hotel in Washington, where he was a manager. In recent weeks, he had done a play to stay at Biden’s White House, according to multiple sources, to no avail.
“He was not particularly liked,” a former White House official said of Harleth’s reputation inside the White House, adding that there was friction between Harleth and the social secretary of Trump.
The office of the chief bailiff is currently operated by Katie Hinson, who was deputy chief bailiff under Trump, until the first lady settles her choice to fill the role of chief.
Kate Anderson Brower contributed to this report.