The headache Trump left behind for Biden on the White House lawn 2021

Publish Date : 2021-08-30


The headache Trump left behind for Biden on the White House lawn 2021

The 'headache' Trump left behind for Biden on the White House lawn 2021
(CNN)The project that's currently tearing up the White House's South Lawn initially landed on Donald Trump's desk.
The White House was in need of substantial upgrades to its future security apparatus, updates that would include digging deeply and extensively, from the upper main driveway to the lower, across acres of pristine green grass. Times had changed since the last substantial overhaul of systems, and with the country facing new, known and unknown security threats from various entities, it was paramount the updates happen, the United States Secret Service told the White House, according to two people familiar with the plan who spoke to CNN.
Many workers would be involved, with machinery, temporary gates and plenty of inconvenient closures and re-routes likely to occur, perhaps for several weeks, possibly longer. The United States Secret Service, the National Park Service and the White House worked in tandem to formulate a plan for the massive, multimillion dollar overhaul, one that could be done in phases, so as not to disturb the first family in residence, noted the sources.
The final step of implementation was for the Trump White House's chief usher, Timothy Harleth, to explain the plan to the President and first lady, and then signal to the Secret Service and National Park Service the system was a "go."
But the Trumps weren't so inclined. They didn't want the noise and, Melania Trump in particular, wanted to avoid disrupting the aesthetics on the back lawn, where there could perhaps be events. The first couple decided to "pass it to the next guy," said one of the people familiar. That next guy ended up being President Joe Biden.
The project, which has now been ongoing for several weeks on the south side of the White House campus, is one of the largest in scope and scale at the White House in several years. It has crept up from the farthest southern juncture of the lawn to now just to the foot of the South entrance of the actual White House.
For more than a month now, Biden has had to meet his helicopter, Marine One, on the Ellipse, the park below the South Lawn perimeter of the White House and just north of Constitution Avenue. Marine One has had to land and take off from this not-usual spot because of the construction, and Biden has had to motorcade approximately two minutes from the White House to the Ellipse to depart and arrive, where before he could ostensibly walk out his back door a few hundred yards and board his private transport.
"It's been a headache," said one Secret Service source with knowledge of altered movements to circumvent the construction.
Upgrading security

The last time there was a dig this big was during Barack Obama's presidency, when upgrades were made on the north side of the White House that included similar security measures to the ones happening now, another person familiar with the work told CNN.
"In order to maintain operational security, the U.S. Secret Service does not comment on the means and methods used to conduct the agency's protective operations," a Secret Service spokesperson told CNN when asked about the work on the South Lawn. The White House tolld CNN the South Lawn work is an eight to 10 week project. The National Park Service referred CNN to the Secret Service.

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According to contracts obtained by CNN, the majority of the current updates are happening underground, where an extensive route of ducts is being placed. Those ducts have the capability to contain miscellaneous security apparatus, from wiring to cameras to lighting and alternate power sources. The scope of the system includes a swath of White House acreage from 5,000–15,000 linear feet, or about one to three miles. The contract for the bulk of this work was awarded in 2019 to The Whiting Turner Contracting Company for $17.9 million.
The selection of Whiting-Turner to manage and operate the work suggests that there may be sensitive security needs being addressed with this duct-building project, and that behind the tall wooden fences that have been temporarily erected to prevent prying eyes, major technical components are being installed. Whiting-Turner, a construction management and operations corporation with massive federal work already under its belt, has overseen projects for, among others, NASA, the Department of Energy, the Architect of the Capitol, the Executive Residence at the White House, the Justice Department, most branches of the military, and a number of organizations in the national intelligence sphere. Whiting-Turner on its website touts its expertise in "anti-terrorism and force protection" as well as its experience constructing and implementing "classified and top-secret requirements." The company is also proficient in installing "uninterrupted power systems and emergency power," per its website. Whiting-Turner declined comment to CNN on its projects, including the White House contract.
Presidents forced to adapt

Trump may have been smart to pass off the project to "the next guy," considering the weeks of disruption and noise that have already occurred, and will likely continue for at least two to three more, according to a person familiar with where the work stands.
A White House spokesperson says neither the President nor his senior staff have been frustrated by the changes to the typical routing.
But it's not just Marine One that has had to re-route. The entire South Lawn encompasses several acres of land, tended to by the National Park Service. It is home to the White House Kitchen Garden, a basketball court, the White House swimming pool, several historic and ceremonial plantings and, as of last year, the new tennis pavilion. It is also where most of the events the White House hosts for the public are held, notably the Easter Egg Roll, as well as many large-scale pomp-and-circumstance ceremonies, including state visits and some of the accompanying state dinners. To have it be entirely shut down, dug up, and seamlessly put back together (which is the goal) is a carefully choreographed operation.
The tricky part, of course, is to accomplish this needed and essential security upgrade for the President and his family while not disrupting them too much in the process.
Trump may have been smart to pass off the project to "the next guy," considering the weeks of disruption and noise that have already occurred, and will likely continue for at least two to three more, according to a person familiar with where the work stands.
A White House spokesperson says neither the President nor his senior staff have been frustrated by the changes to the typical routing.
But it's not just Marine One that has had to re-route. The entire South Lawn encompasses several acres of land, tended to by the National Park Service. It is home to the White House Kitchen Garden, a basketball court, the White House swimming pool, several historic and ceremonial plantings and, as of last year, the new tennis pavilion. It is also where most of the events the White House hosts for the public are held, notably the Easter Egg Roll, as well as many large-scale pomp-and-circumstance ceremonies, including state visits and some of the accompanying state dinners. To have it be entirely shut down, dug up, and seamlessly put back together (which is the goal) is a carefully choreographed operation.
The tricky part, of course, is to accomplish this needed and essential security upgrade for the President and his family while not disrupting them too much in the process.
Trump may have been smart to pass off the project to "the next guy," considering the weeks of disruption and noise that have already occurred, and will likely continue for at least two to three more, according to a person familiar with where the work stands.
A White House spokesperson says neither the President nor his senior staff have been frustrated by the changes to the typical routing.
But it's not just Marine One that has had to re-route. The entire South Lawn encompasses several acres of land, tended to by the National Park Service. It is home to the White House Kitchen Garden, a basketball court, the White House swimming pool, several historic and ceremonial plantings and, as of last year, the new tennis pavilion. It is also where most of the events the White House hosts for the public are held, notably the Easter Egg Roll, as well as many large-scale pomp-and-circumstance ceremonies, including state visits and some of the accompanying state dinners. To have it be entirely shut down, dug up, and seamlessly put back together (which is the goal) is a carefully choreographed operation.
The tricky part, of course, is to accomplish this needed and essential security upgrade for the President and his family while not disrupting them too much in the process.



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