Former President Bill Clinton and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Donald Trump's inauguration.
US: In the lobby of every Federal building, just inside security turnstiles and before the elevator banks, a framed photograph of the president has always hung on the wall.
Not so anymore. Nine months after Donald Trump’s inauguration, pictures of the President and Vice President Pence are missing from thousands of federal courthouses, laboratories, military installations, ports of entry, office suites and hallways, and from US embassies abroad.
On the walls are empty picture hooks left when workers took down official portraits of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on Jan. 20. Federal employees and visitors passing through the hallways since then have puzzled over the missing images, wondering why the traditional signal of the formal transition of power has yet to occur.
The changeover appears to be tangled in a bit of red tape and mystery.
Federal agencies ordered photographs of their new commander in chief months ago. But they say they are still waiting for the Government Publishing Office, the printer of official portraits, to send them for distribution by the General Services Administration, which owns or leases 9,600 federal buildings across the country.
The Government Publishing Office says it has yet to receive the images from the White House. And the White House says the president and vice president have not yet decided when they will sit for the type of high-quality official photographs usually churned out by the modern GPO, continuing a portrait tradition that began after the Civil War.
“GPO is standing by to reproduce copies of the president and the vice president’s photos for official use in federal facilities and will do so as soon as the official photo files are provided to us,” agency spokesman Gary Somerset said in email.
He added, “I do not have a timeline on when GPO will receive those files from the White House.”
The missing pictures might seem to be a minor matter in an administration consumed with hurricane relief, the North Korean nuclear threat, an investigation into Trump campaign contacts with Russians, illegal immigration and other issues.
Yet to some, the absence of the ubiquitous official photos is puzzling, considering the chief executive’s fame was propelled by reality television and he has never been reluctant to promote his image. Some agencies have been so determined to show the president’s photograph that they’ve improvised, downloading a scowling — and some say unflattering — photo of Trump posted on the White House website.
Obama’s portrait was hung by the third month he was in office in 2009. The GPO printed more than 130,000 of his photographs in three sizes. Employees transferred the digital image from a computer to a printing plate and finally to one of the agency’s four color presses.
President Bill Clinton’s official photo was up by June 1993, the Associated Press reported.
White House spokeswoman Lindsay E. Walters said in a statement: “All agencies who have requested the President’s portrait have received a photo to display. We’re still in the process of creating the official portrait. Once it’s been produced, the White House photo office will distribute it to all of the agencies and other requests.”