While President-elect Donald Trump will be officially sworn in as president on January 20, 2017, it was reportedly going to be much later than that before he could get settled into the Oval Office of the White House.
According to the U.K. Daily Mail, it appeared the Oval Office was set to undergo some major renovations that could have made it nigh-unusable.
With the traditional working office of the president being taken out of commission, Trump would most likely have had to stage his administration out of an office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building across the street, the same office used by President Richard Nixon, who used the Oval Office only for ceremonial purposes.
“My understanding is that for the first year of his time in office, President Trump will not have the Oval Office,” stated former Bush White House adviser Karl Rove to Fox News on Wednesday.
“President Obama could have told the Secret Service, ‘I know you want to modernize the Oval Office with security enhancements – literally strip it down to the bare walls and build it back up so we’ve got bullet-proof glass and so forth and so on, security arrangements in it, in my last year in office,’” Rove surmised.
“But instead he said, ‘Why don’t you do that (with) whoever comes next’ so the president of the United States, President Trump, my understanding is, will spend most of his first year using Richard Nixon’s old office in the Old Executive Office Building across Executive Drive and up the Navy Steps,” Rove added.
The Secret Service did not respond to any questions from the Daily Mail regarding the planned renovations, instead directing them to the White House staff, who have since claimed — now that the news has gotten out — that Trump would be able to use the office, according to a tweet from CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller.
WH Official says security upgrades at WH “will not impede” Pres-elect Trump from working out of the Oval Office on assuming presidency.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) November 17, 2016
While the more cynical among us might presume that this is little more than a spiteful effort by Obama to greatly inconvenience, if not sabotage, the incoming Trump administration by undermining the pledge of a smooth transition, it appeared as though these plans have been in the works for the past couple of years.
A 2013 piece by RealClearPolitics revealed that a replica Oval Office was being built in the Eisenhower building in preparation for the major renovations planned for the West Wing of the White House, but it seemed as though those plans were at least partially placed on hold.
Furthermore, this wouldn’t have been the first time a president has had to work from outside the Oval Office, which was first added to the White House in 1909. Herbert Hoover was forced to vacate the office temporarily after a 1929 electrical fire. President Lyndon Johnson, like Nixon after him, also only used the Oval Office for ceremonial purposes, choosing instead to work out of his old vice presidential office out of respect for the assassinated President John F. Kennedy.
While in the grand scheme of things this may not be that big a deal, the timing of the project certainly does raise suspicion of being deliberate, particularly considering it has been planned since at least 2013 and could have been begun long before Obama was set to leave office.
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