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White House Chief Usher Suddenly Exits


FILE - Angella Reid is photographed in Lafayette Park in front of the White House, Oct. 18, 2011, in Washington.

The White House confirmed on Friday that the first woman to serve as chief usher at the White House, Angella Reid, is off the job.

"She is no longer employed here at the White House. But we left on very good terms and wish her the best and certainly hope for great things for her in the future," Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at Friday's daily briefing in response to a question raised by VOA.

Huckabee Sanders noted that "it is not uncommon that you might have a transition of staff when a new administration comes in, and it's simply nothing more than that. And we certainly wish her the very best."

She gave no further explanation for the person who essentially is the general manager of the White House.

Sudden dismissals from the permanent residence staff of the White House have been rare, although veteran observers said those positions became more politicized during the administration of former President Barack Obama.

“It saddens me because I think it shows how political the job has gotten," author Kate Andersen Brower told VOA.

'Each administration wants its own people'

"Angella was brought in by the Obamas and was known to be loyal to them,” Brower added. “I think it makes sense that each administration wants to bring in their own people.”

Brower is the author of The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House.

The Washington Post said Reid was fired, and quoted her as saying, “I think it’s best if the White House explains.”

Reid was the first woman and second African-American in history to hold the position, which has been known as chief usher since the end of the 19th century, when a primary duty of the position was ushering in guests to meet the president and first lady.

Praise for Reid's performance

Steward McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Association, called Reid a "great asset," adding "her leadership and collaboration has been stellar and we will certainly miss working with her."

In a statement e-mailed to VOA, McLaurin added, "We look forward to working as closely with the new chief usher on issues regarding our mission to help maintain the historical and museum aspects of the White House."

Reid, formerly the general manager of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Pentagon City in northern Virginia, was hired in 2011 to replace the first African-American in the job, retired Coast Guard Admiral Stephen Rochon, when he left for a position at the Department of Homeland Security.

Former chief usher rejected bid to return

The chief usher serves as manager of the building, overseeing the White House staff and assisting the president's family with decorating and logistics in the residential part of the building.

Rochon, Reid's predecessor, told CNN that the Trump administration had asked him to come back "to run the house," but he said he declined the offer. He said the job is usually unaffected by politics, and staffers generally stay in their positions for a long time.

Some of Rochon and Reid's predecessors held the position for up to two decades.

The Washington Post said there were tensions between Reid and the household staff, which includes butlers, housekeepers, chefs, doormen, florists and engineers.

Until her permanent successor is named, "the deputy usher will be serving as the acting usher right now," Huckabee Sanders said.

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