The White House in Washington, DC (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks via Flickr)

Are Trump staffers taking artwork from the White House illegally on their way out? A stuffed bird, a framed photograph of the outbound US head of state meeting with the Chinese president, and a bust of Abraham Lincoln were some of the items seen carried out of the White House on Thursday, January 15, a day after the House of Representatives impeached Donald Trump for the second time.

Images of Trump aids carrying artworks out of the White House, some loading them unto their cars, raised questions about whether or not these artworks belong to the public.

White House economic adviser Peter Navarro, a close Trump ally and one of the main propagators of the president’s conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud, was photographed taking away the picture of Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Navarro, who appears in the far-right corner of the framed photograph, holds extreme stances against China. He is the author of books like Crouching Tiger: What China’s Militarism Means for the World (2016) and Death by China: Confronting the Dragon – A Global Call to Action (2011), in which he calls to aggressively confront China’s rising economic and military powers.  

Debbie Meadows, the wife of Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, was seen carrying a stuffed bird from her husband’s office to her vehicle. CNN’s White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins posted the photos on Twitter, commenting: “The taxidermy has left the building.”

In another photo, taken by photojournalist Khalil Abdallah and shared by CNN’s chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta, a bust of Abraham Lincoln is seen hauled out of the West Wing.

Hyperallergic has reached out to the White House Historical Association, which oversees the art collection in the building, to inquire about the whereabouts of the bust and the other items but has not yet received a comment. However, the association’s president, Stewart D. McLauren, released a statement on Twitter indicating that some of the items are being returned to other collections after they were loaned to White House staff and offices.

“Be reminded that staff have had items of their own that they brought to the White House and can take those items home as they wish,” McLauren added about other objects. He expressed confidence that the White House chief usher and curator are “carrying out their responsibility.”

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital Arts Writers Grant and he holds an MFA in Art Writing from the School of Visual...