'So petty': Donald and Melania Trump fired chief usher before leaving White House to spite Bidens
President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump return on Marine One from their Florida vacation early at the South Lawn of the White House Thursday, December 31, 2020. - Pool/ABACA/TNS

President Joe Biden was blamed for firing the White House chief usher on his first day on the job, but his predecessor actually did the deed -- apparently to spite the incoming first family.

Donald and Melania Trump sent White House ushers home early on Inauguration Day in one of their last acts in a tense presidential transition, a well-placed official not associated with the Biden team told the National Journal.

"The Trumps sent the butlers home when they left so there would be no one to help the Bidens when they arrived," the official said. "So petty."

Other knowledgable sources confirmed to the Journal that chief usher Timothy Harleth, a former executive of Trump Hotels hired by Melania Trump, was summarily fired by the outgoing president and first lady -- and not by the Bidens, as was widely reported afterward.

Harleth was already gone by the time Joe and Jill Biden arrived at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, leaving no one in place to open the doors for their inaugural entry and leading to an awkward pause.

"It's a big protocol breach for the president to ever stand in front of a closed door at the White House," said a veteran White House social expert. "That may be why there was nobody to open the doors to the Bidens. You couldn't expect the Biden staff to know to do that. Doors are opened and closed by ushers. There are rules about all these things and everyone has their job."

The rest of the usher staff was back on the job Thursday, but Harleth -- considered to be a Trump loyalist -- was not expected to be retained by the Bidens for long.