News & Politics

White House Staff Packs for Move Behind Trump’s Back

A "semi-clandestine operation" was necessary, CNN reports—because the President thought he might just get to stay

Photograph by Alexander Ramjing via iStock.

While President Trump fulminated and obfuscated about the election he couldn’t admit he lost, the residence staff at the White House was quietly packing up his things, Kate Bennett reports for CNN:

As the President publicly railed against the election, fraudulently claiming it was rigged and clinging to the false hope of staying in the White House, his wife was packing up their things to move out, say multiple sources who have observed Trump’s activities since late November.

The first lady is now more than halfway done with the job of shipping belongings either to Mar-a-Lago or to storage, having bit-by-bit overseen the moveout for weeks. The residence staff has had to help with the semi-clandestine operation, facilitating packing logistics without raising the ire of the President, who truly believed he would be staying put.

Melania Trump, Bennett writes, ” hasn’t done anything of significance as the weeks of her tenure come to a close,” which could be disappointing to anyone who thought she might use her final days in Washington to reveal what her Be Best initiative meant.

Empty cardboard boxes were delivered to the White House complex on Wednesday, NBC News reports, adding some texture to a CNN report that the Biden administration plans an unusual deep-clean of the White House, which has been a hotbed of Covid cases thanks to the President’s laissez-faire attitude toward the pandemic:

Government contracts and purchase orders reviewed by NBC News show that the cost of the additional cleaning totals nearly a half-million dollars. The top-to-bottom cleaning, which CNN first reported, is above and beyond what typically occurs during the well-choreographed residence changeover conducted by White House ushers, butlers and housekeepers, and it follows multiple outbreaks of the coronavirus on White House grounds.

Trump’s decision to leave on January 19 means the White House can get some fresh paint and wallpaper before Biden moves in, CNN reports:

Typically, the window of time on Inauguration Day is not enough for updating paint and wallpaper around the house, but as there is more time now, thanks to what appears to be the Trumps’ early departure on January 19, the walls will get refreshed.

For anyone hungry for photos of the Trump move, DC photographer Erin Scott is a must-follow: Her photo of moving boxes has gone viral, and she also caught the moment when adviser Peter Navarro walked out with a photo of Trump in action.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.