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White House rescinds email telling staff to clean out desks for Biden, as Trump insists it’s not over

West Wing staff receive conflicting instructions as president continues to protest election results

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Wednesday 23 December 2020 17:02 GMT
Trump demands Congress raise Covid relief payments and drop foreign aid before he will sign stimulus bill
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Despite Donald Trump’s continued protestations that he won the election, White House staff have received comprehensive instructions on how and when they will depart the West Wing.

A detailed email was sent out to staffers from the executive office on Tuesday evening with directions on the process for vacating offices, but a follow-up email on Wednesday instructed them to disregard the previous message.

The instructions included everything from cleaning out refrigerators and microwaves, returning White House stationery, and attending an ethics debriefing, according to CBS correspondent Weijia Jiang.

Presidential gifts should also be returned.

As most West Wing staff are political appointees, their duties end when the president’s term in office ends. The first employees are scheduled to start leaving on 4 January, with final payroll run on 19 January according to the initial instructions.

The Wednesday morning email read: “Please disregard the below message. Updated information will be shared in the coming days.”

Mr Trump continues to ask Republican members of Congress to object to the certification of the electoral college results on 6 January – the final step in the verification of the results for November’s general election.

Traditionally, the outgoing first family are moved out during the inauguration – with the belongings of the incoming first family installed in preparation for their return from the ceremony.

For presidential staffers the transition is a bit more drawn out. This year, with the added complications of the coronavirus pandemic, and multiple Covid-19 outbreaks centred on the executive mansion, a deep clean of the building is also planned.

Many incoming staffers for President-elect Joe Biden are likely to work from home after he is sworn in as president.

The campaign and transition period have been run almost entirely virtually, with strict protocols in place regarding Covid-19.

Mr Trump continues to object to the election results – including a reference to being the next administration in a video released on Twitter on Tuesday evening – but his family members are planning for the future.

First lady Melania Trump has reportedly carried out an inventory of furniture and art to be shipped to the Mar-a-Lago club in Florida where it is assumed the family will reside – she has also toured schools in the area for her son, Barron.

A move to Florida may not go as smoothly as the Trumps want, with the neighbours taking legal action to stop the former first family using the club as a private residence.

Michael Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer, said in 2019 that Mr Trump would not leave the White House quietly – a prediction that has come to pass.

In November, he predicted: “I would not be shocked if there is no concession speech at all. My theory is that at Christmas time he goes to Mar-a-Lago. I think he will stay there through the inauguration. I would not be shocked if he will not show up to the inauguration either.”

Marine One is scheduled to lift off from the South Lawn on Wednesday afternoon with the first family onboard, en route to Florida for the holidays.

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