The plaque has a rather convoluted history, with an on-again, off-again presence in the stately Ronald Reagan Building. The 800-pound bronze plaque is 6 feet wide by 9 feet tall and features an excerpt of one of Clinton’s speeches, as well as glowing quote from former USAID administrator J. Brian Atwood: “May all who pass through these portals recognize the invaluable contribution to worldwide development made by the First Lady of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
It first went up in 1999, framed by a dozen photographs capturing the former first lady’s visits to countries across the world. The display, which cost over $27,000 to create and tens of thousands more to install, transformed the lobby into a “shrine” for Clinton, Washington Post columnist Al Kamen wrote in 2010.
But it didn’t last. When George W. Bush took office, the plaque was first covered, then ultimately removed and shipped to a warehouse for storage. It wasn’t until 2010 — during Obama’s first term, after Clinton became secretary of state — that the plaque was reinstalled in USAID’s lobby (minus the surrounding halo of framed photographs).
Clinton had joked about the whereabouts of the missing plaque during a visit to USAID in January 2009. “I was quite honored upon leaving the White House to have a plaque put up in the lobby recognizing my work,” she said, “And if anybody knows where that plaque is, I’d just love to see it again.”
She later told The Post that if the plaque was returned, she did not want public funding to pay for the cost — so unidentified private donors covered the bill, according to Kamen’s column.
But now, of course, the political tides have turned again. The White House is home to a new president, one who has made it clear that he has hardly forgotten his volatile battle with an opponent who won the popular vote. Trump’s nominee to lead USAID, Mark Green, was sworn in as the agency’s new administrator this month.
As for the future of Clinton’s wall-mounted tribute, a spokesman for the agency declined to offer any comment beyond a statement confirming the plaque’s current location: “The plaque is in the USAID lobby.”