Moving day to the White House filled with taxpayer-funded Covid-19 cleanups and changing sports equipment

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The delicate and highly choreographed event of packing and moving, as well as unpacking and moving, performed by dozens of prepared and trained staff and movers, typically occurs in the six-hour window when outgoing presidents and Newcomers and their spouses attend the inauguration Day Ceremonies at the Capitol. By the time the new president and first lady return to the White House, all of their belongings will have been moved in and ready for use – in a fridge stocked with their favorite foods and in the master bathroom stocked with their favorite shampoo.

But, like most things in the Trump administration, this January 20 will not be very traditional.

Before the Bidens move, the White House will first undergo a Covid-19 cleanup, top to bottom, from the east wing to the west wing. According to federal contract data reviewed by CNN, the total for the amplified White House inauguration in depth is currently hovering nearly half a million dollars.

That includes $ 127,000 for what a government order calls the “2021 inaugural cleanup,” an offer to Didlake, a Virginia-based company that employs people with disabilities for jobs including janitorial and housekeeping services. This amount is separate from an order of $ 44,000 for carpet cleaning and the purchase contract of $ 115,000 for “Presidential inauguration 2021 and replacement and installation of transition carpets to correct the current condition of the floor. some interior floors for various offices’ in the East Wing, West Wing and Executive Office Building, as described.

In traditional administrative exchanges, much of the cleaning, though thorough, is mostly done by White House staff – housekeepers, butlers, ushers – and maintenance like electrical repairs and minor maintenance jobs. carried out by White House workers, of whom there are typically 90 to 100 in roles ranging from pastry chefs to florists to plumbers.
However, this time around, the incoming Biden administration wanted to make sure 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, which has been a hotspot for at least three outbreaks of Covid-19, gets the kind of cleanup that a pandemic deserves. , according to a White House official. who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity.

“The idea that they would just move in seems unlikely,” said the official, who was unaware of the specific contract numbers but knew further action was being taken after the Trumps left the White House .

The big day

President Donald Trump tweeted last week that he would not attend the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and CNN announced that the Trumps are expected to leave Washington the day before, Jan.19. Biden plans to spend the night before his inauguration at a Washington hotel. , say people familiar with the plans, and will move to the White House after the deep clean.

“People tend to forget the size of this building,” the official said; the White House is approximately 55,000 square feet.

Biden’s transition team did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment on the additional cleaning contracts.

The new inaugural cleaning contracts, all of which were signed by the Public Buildings Department within the General Service Administration, include more than $ 29,000 to clean the curtains of the East Wing, West Wing and from Eisenhower’s executive office and $ 53,000 for paint and wall coverings.

Typically, the window of time on grand opening day is not enough to update the paint and wallpaper in the house, but since there is more time now, thanks to what appears to be the early departure of the Atouts on January 19, the walls will be refreshed. A contract for $ 37,975 was awarded to a company in Annapolis, Md., For garbage removal and recycling, “in line with the scope of work for the 2021 groundbreaking.”

Another $ 50,000 was hired to pay overtime for the movers.

Melania Trump is already making moves

Melania Trump 'just wants to come home'

Melania Trump has been moving articles for nearly two months, according to multiple sources. She has already made several expeditions to Mar-a-Lago, the private club in Palm Beach, Florida, where the first couple is expected to reside. She also tidied up much of the family’s furniture and decor. One of the sources estimates that Trump is “about 50%” excited in the White House, a job she began in earnest in the weeks following Election Day.

Despite the national turmoil, two sources confirm to CNN that much of her attention has been on her photo album collection, a hobby she has maintained for more than a decade, cutting and creating big albums. bound in leather with the dates and occasions of each of the contents.

One of the sources familiar with her penchant for photo albums said the first lady had used the services of her official White House photographer, Andrea Hanks, to help with her personal projects. Hanks is a government employee and her request for overtime has angered her colleagues in the White House photo office.

The East Wing did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN.

The chief of staff and spokesperson for the first lady, Stephanie Grisham, resigned last Wednesday following the insurgency on Capitol Hill. Melania Trump has not been seen publicly since returning from her Florida home to the White House on December 31.

Bidens moves in

Pence to attend Biden inauguration

Meanwhile, Biden’s transition team has already been in contact with White House chief bailiff Timothy Harleth, two sources told CNN. Harleth was hired by Melania Trump in June 2017; he previously worked at the Trump International Hotel Washington as the rooms manager. A White House source said Harleth was secretly helping Biden’s team navigate the move-in process, as the tradition of the current first lady welcoming the incoming first lady never happened under Trump – Melania Trump has still not contacted Jill Biden.

As such, communication between the staffs on the two opposing sides is non-existent, where previous administrations, even those on opposite sides of the political aisle, have now had long and in-depth discussions about moving logistics.

It is not clear, for example, whether the Biden family’s moving trucks will be allowed to transport the President-elect’s beloved Platoon from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, to the White House residence. Self-driving bikes usually have video cameras that connect to the internet, which could be one of the few minor issues.

The high-tech gadgets of past presidents typically required security screening and upgrading, especially when connecting to the internet or cellular networks. The Washington Post reported in February 2019 that Trump had installed a $ 50,000 coin-sized golf simulator in the White House, replacing a less sophisticated simulator installed by President Barack Obama. At the time, the price for TrackMan’s fully configured Trump simulator, which has golf simulators at several Trump properties, started at around $ 50,000.

High-end simulators like TrackMan often connect to the internet and have sensors or cameras. US Secret Service emails obtained by CNN under the Freedom of Information Act show that agency staff, including a protective liaison for the Secret Service’s Technical Security Division, exchanged ” notes ”and“ technical information ”about the TrackMan golf simulator over the months. before its reported installation.

The old presidents did not have such high tech problems. President George W. Bush has called for workout equipment, including an elliptical machine and free weights, to be installed in a poolside cabana just steps from the Oval Office, and a collapsible treadmill on board. ‘Air Force One. Old-school enough not to raise the safety flags.

It is unclear whether Biden’s Platoon will receive the same scrutiny.

CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

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