Robert B. Downing has been named as the new chief usher of the White House, according to a White House source.
Downing previously worked for Maryland-based Susan Gage Caterers, and before that he worked in the Reagan administration.
The chief usher of the White House manages the residence and works closely with the first lady and her office. The chief usher runs the 55,000-square foot, six-floor White House residence and oversees a permanent staff of approximately 100 people. The chief usher answers any concerns the President and the first lady might have about their home, hires and fires staff and manages the funds allocated by Congress to run the house, including the cost of heating, lighting, air-conditioning and the staff’s salaries.
Before working for Susan Gage Caterers, Downing managed a 200-year-old home – the Evermay – in Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood, and in 1995 he worked on Republican California Gov. Pete Wilson’s presidential campaign. Between 1985 and 1993 he worked at the US Treasury Department, eventually serving as executive secretary directing policy coordination between the department and the White House.
The Bidens fired White House chief usher Timothy Harleth, who was installed by the Trumps, on Inauguration Day. The Bidens waited awkwardly at the front door of the White House on Inauguration Day before it was opened, which was a major breach of protocol.
Harleth was hired by Melania Trump in 2017 and came to the White House from Trump International Hotel DC, where he was rooms manager.
Harleth took the place of Angella Reid, who was hired during the Obama administration. Reid made history when she took the job in 2011 as the first woman to serve in the position. She was previously the general manager at the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City, just outside Washington in the Virginia suburbs.
The position has previously been nonpartisan with chief ushers staying on from one administration to the next. Gary Walters was chief usher from 1986 until 2007.