President Donald J. Trump took office on Friday noon, and as one of the very first notable changes made in the decoration of the Oval Office, Trump has restored the bust of Winston Churchill to his presidential office in the White House, CNN reports. Trump has also added new gold curtains with blue trim to the window behind the resolute desk, where he sat down to sign his first executive order as the 45th President of the United States, the process of rolling back Obamacare. Other changes made to the Oval Office include new brocade couches and a new sunburst-patterned carpet.
Trump has put the bust of Churchill on a side table, while the figure of Martin Luther King Jr. that former President Barack Obama had installed there after taking office has been moved next to the fireplace. While it is common for each President to decorate the Oval Office as they choose, Obama’s decision to swap the bust of British Prime minister Winston Churchill for that of Doctor King had angered a lot of conservatives and Anglophiles, some even claiming that the move was meant to offend the British. Obama however clarified his decision during a press conference in London last year, saying that it made sense for him, as the first African-America president, to have a figurine of Dr. Martin Luther King, the leader of the civil rights movement, in his office.
“There are only so many tables where you can put busts — otherwise it starts looking a little cluttered. And I thought it was appropriate, and I suspect most people here in the United Kingdom might agree, that as the first African American President, it might be appropriate to have a bust of Dr. Martin Luther King in my office to remind me of all the hard work of a lot of people who would somehow allow me to have the privilege of holding this office.”
Obama had asked the bust of Churchill to be moved to a location outside the Treaty Room in his private residence. The move had angered a lot of conservative pundits, radio hosts and writers. In fact, such was the popularity of the bust among Conservatives that the 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney had actually promised to restore the bust back to the oval office as part of his presidential campaign. After winning the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump, met with U.K. Independent Party leader Nigel Farage, who brought the same issue up, telling the president-elect to restore the bust of Churchill back to the Oval office. Nigel Farage had been a vocal supporter of Trump throughout his campaign.
Former senior adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama Dan Pfeiffer had clarified all the issue and history surrounding the bust in a White House blog published in 2012. In it, he clearly states that the ideas suggesting that former President Barack Obama had returned the Churchill bust due to an antipathy towards the British were completely false, calling them “urban legends.” Here’s a part of the blog post that explains all the fuss surrounding the bust of Churchill.
“The White House has had a bust of Winston Churchill since the 1960s. At the start of the Bush administration, Prime Minister (Tony) Blair lent President Bush a bust that matched the one in the White House, which was being worked on at the time and was later returned to the residence. The version lent by Prime Minister Blair was displayed by President (George W.) Bush until the end of his presidency. On January 20, 2009 — Inauguration Day — all of the art lent specifically for President Bush’s Oval Office was removed by the curator’s office, as is common practice at the end of every presidency. The original Churchill bust remained on display in the residence.”
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