Purchased by Debbie Meadows, the wife of White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, the taxidermy bird was moved from Meadows’ office in the West Wing, among other boxes and souvenirs from his time in the administration, and placed in the trunk of a waiting jeep.
Questions abounded Thursday as three unidentified masked officers walked a bronze bust of President Abraham Lincoln in front of the West Wing front door. Who does it belong to? And where exactly did he go?
Items such as Lincoln’s sculpture were borrowed from the official White House collection and part of a documented process in which thousands of works of art, decorative art, sculpture, porcelain, silver and other items have historically been preserved.
These elements are available to the incoming president and first lady to elect at the beginning of a new term, as Trump did in 201
Upon relocation, the borrowed items are systematically returned to the White House Historical Association, which, together with the White House Chief of Staff and curator, collects the collectibles.
“For anyone concerned about media photos of items leaving the White House: The White House chief of staff and the curator are responsible for managing and reporting on the White House collection in each presidency. They are an exemplary team of career professionals and must have our trust in fulfilling their responsibilities, “said Stuart McLaren, president of the White House Historical Association.
The curator is Lydia Tederick, according to the White House Historical Association, who “has served in the curator’s office for more than thirty years and is the eighth professional to hold the position.”
Tederick reports to Chief Timothy Harlett, a former employee of the Trump Hotel who is now a career employee. Harlett “essentially serves as general manager of the White House residence and operations and manages the Collection,” according to the association.
“Keep in mind that employees have their own items that they brought to the White House and can take them home as they wish. Some items are rented to employees and offices from other collections and will be returned to those collections.” said McLaren.
As for the majestic Meadows bird, the pheasant is a personal effect and has previously been in its Capitol Hill office and, a source said, was not the only piece of taxidermy in its West Wing office.
It’s not uncommon for departing White House staff to grab a souvenir or two on the way out. Bill Clinton’s staff removed the “W” keys from their keyboards before George W. Bush took office.
During previous departures, anchor handles on the door of the Eisenhower executive office building disappeared before Acting Day, said former CNN agent and law enforcement analyst Jonathan Walkrow.
But, Wacrow said, U.S. Secret Service uniforms are usually on high alert over the next few days, checking luggage to prevent any necessary equipment from leaving.
Kate Bennett, Caitlan Collins and Jim Acosta of CNN contributed to this report.