President Joe Biden has only been in the White House for a few days but he has wasted no time making the space his own.
One of the most notable changes made by the 78-year-old was the removal of Trump’s little red button.
And while it would make sense for Trump to have some kind of nuclear detonator at his finger tips given how often he made military threats, the button is actually for something much more on brand with the former President.
When pressed, the button would summon a butler who would appear with a glass of Diet Coke on a silver platter.
White House advisors confirmed with The New York Times in 2017 that Trump would consume more than 12 Diet Cokes every day.
President Biden has removed the Diet Coke button. When @ShippersUnbound and I interviewed Donald Trump in 2019, we became fascinated by what the little red button did. Eventually Trump pressed it, and a butler swiftly brought in a Diet Coke on a silver platter. It’s gone now. pic.twitter.com/rFzhPaHYjk
— Tom Newton Dunn (@tnewtondunn) January 21, 2021
The next thing Biden was quick to bin were the the military flags that his predecessor had put on display.
During his tumultuous term, Trump made military operations a priority, but was later criticised for deploying the army during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.
Biden also removed a portrait of former President Andrew Jackson, a populist who signed the Indian Removal Act.
The legislation led to the Trail of Tears, where more than 100,000 Native Americans were forcefully relocated, and caused thousands of deaths in the community.
In 2017, Trump was criticised for holding an event in the Oval Office honouring the Navajo veterans while standing in front of the portrait of Jackson.
The newly-elected 78-year-old switched Trump’s light blue rug for a deeper royal blue that he brought out of storage.
:: White House staff works fast.@JoeBiden has family photos in Oval Office and has switched the carpet from pale blue to navy.
Curtains remain the same. pic.twitter.com/SMsziIa7Xc
— Steve Chamraz (@TMJ4Steve) January 20, 2021
Ashley Williams, the deputy director of Oval Office operations said it was “important for President Biden to walk into an Oval that looked like America”.
Not a total bust
Biden has added a touch of home to his new West Wing office, with a number of framed family photographs that sit behind his desk.
In between the family snaps is a bronze bust of Latino civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, created by artist Paul Suarez.
A bust of Cesar Chavez in the Oval Office.
With farmworkers on the frontlines of COVID, risking their lives to feed all Americans, this symbol is a powerfully important reminder of who we’re fighting for.
Working people have a champion again in the White House. pic.twitter.com/1IlmWAStFO
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) January 21, 2021
Chavez notably fought for better wages and conditions for farmworkers in the US.
Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Chavez’ granddaughter, is Biden’s director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.
Civil rights icons Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks also appear in the Office, immortalised as bronze busts, along with Robert F Kennedy and Eleanor Roosevelt.
In President Biden’s Oval Office are busts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez and Eleanor Roosevelt. A large portrait of Franklin Roosevelt dominates the room. https://t.co/w6ir7zYYgl pic.twitter.com/aXG7D8wRWG
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) January 20, 2021
But Biden’s redecoration of the space has already been met with some criticism.
His decision to remove a bust of Winston Churchill has left many concerned about the relationship and alliance between the US and the UK.
Though he is credited with cementing the relationship between the two superpowers and saving the Western World from Nazism, Churchill was also a “grotesque racist”
The bust had previously been removed from the Oval Office by Barack Obama, but was returned during Trump’s term.
I’m shocked that President Biden, the former VP of the first black president would remove a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office. Shocked I tell you! pic.twitter.com/6YvzjooXKB
— Femi😷 (@Femi_Sorry) January 21, 2021
When quizzed on whether the move was a snub to British-American relations, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson remained vague.
“There’s nothing wrong with being woke but what I can tell you is that I think it’s very, very important for everybody to … I certainly put myself in the category of people who believe that it’s important to stick up for your history, your traditions and your values, the things you believe in,” Johnson said.
Painting a political picture
Biden has also spruced up the joint by adding a number of oil paintings of notable figures – and two specific additions hold a very important message.
Portraits of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D Roosevelt all feature, but it was the paintings of Thomas Jefferson and former treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton that are most significant.
Biden’s office told the Washington Post that their inclusion “hallmarks of how differences of opinion, expressed within the guardrails of the Republic, are essential to democracy”.
One aspect of the Oval Office that will remain the same is the large oak desk.
Named the Resolute Desk (also known as the Hayes Desk), it was built from oak from the British Arctic exploration ship HMS Resolute, which was abandoned after becoming icebound. American sailors retrieved the ship and returned it Britain, where in 1880 Queen Victoria had the desk crafted from the ship’s timbers as a gift to President Rutherford B. Hayes.
I hope President Biden keeps the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. It has been used by most resent presidents; it was gifted to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880 by Queen Victoria. It’s made from the oak from HMS Resolute. pic.twitter.com/QlDcrtRqLR
— Simon Whelband (@SimonWhelband) January 20, 2021