The White House executive residence staff has dwindled to “extremely essential,” a source familiar tells CNN. The source reiterated CNN’s reporting from earlier this week that staff remain “nervous,” and “there is concern,” for their safety and well-being. The source added this is even more the case since President Trump returned to the White House last night.
“The nervousness has elevated since the President got back,” said the source, who confirmed there is a skeleton crew of staff overall in the residence, and these staff are taking “extreme precautions.” This person would not elaborate on what exactly those precautions are.
Asked to comment on the above concerns from residence staff, many of whom have worked inside the White House for many years, if not decades, Melania Trump’s chief of staff Stephanie Grisham told CNN, “In consultation with the White House medical unit, every precaution is being taken to keep staff safe and healthy.”
There are now approximately eight to10 staff rotating in shifts inside the residence, which has its own private family kitchen, as well as several bedrooms, on both the third and fourth floors, and about 15 bathrooms. The staff roles remaining to watch over the first family, and help with cooking and cleaning and other tasks, likely include housekeeper, butler, cook and maintenance, according to a former residence senior staffer familiar with movements and requirements. The chief usher, Timothy Harleth, whose job it is to oversee household operations and staffing at the direction of the first lady, is also likely on “close standby,” if not on the grounds, says the source familiar.
Typically, the White House residence staff numbers hover in the 90- to 95-person range. These include kitchen staff, housekeeping, valets, butlers, flower shop, calligraphers, maintenance and correspondence office.
In March, as the pandemic spread throughout the country, CNN reported that Melania Trump had reduced the size of the staff to only essential workers, sending the rest home, only coming in on an as-needed basis. That number was about 12, however, others were brought in on an as-needed basis. For example, when hosting leaders during the signing of the Abraham Accord last month, the social secretary, floral shop staff and more kitchen staff were required, as well as butlers, says the source. Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu, and delegations from Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates spent a day at the White House largely ignoring the ongoing pandemic, focusing primarily, if not almost entirely, on the signing the peace agreements.
The President and Melania Trump announced on Twitter at nearly 1 a.m. Friday that they both contracted coronavirus. The first lady has remained in quarantine at the White House residence since Thursday, says Grisham.