Presidential call button


The red button in a wooden box next to the telephone on the Resolute desk in March 2017
Barack Obama on the phone while sitting at the Resolute desk in 2009. The wooden box holding the button is visible next to the phone.
Barack Obama sitting at the Resolute desk with the button visible

Some presidents of the United States have had a red call button in the Oval Office of the White House that could call aides. This button was noted as being on the Resolute desk since at least the George W. Bush presidency (with a similar button reported being used during the Lyndon Johnson presidency) and sits in an approximately 9 in (23 cm) long by 3 in (7.6 cm) wide wooden box marked with a golden presidential seal.[1][2] The button is frequently found on the Resolute desk.[3]

Early usage

The earliest known usage of a “call button” was from the Lyndon Johnson presidency. Lyndon B. Johnson had a series of buttons, or keys, to summon different drinks to the Oval Office, Cabinet Room, and "Little Lounge" (a room just next to the Oval Office). In the Oval Office the keys were on the table behind the president's desk. The four keys were for coffee, tea, Coke, and Fresca, and when pressed a butler would fulfill the president's drink request.[4]

Modern usage

George W. Bush presidency

President George W. Bush reportedly brought back the button in a new form to summon White House staff.[5]

Barack Obama presidency

According to Richard Branson, President Obama repurposed it to order tea for his White House guests.[6]

Donald Trump presidency

During Donald Trump's presidency, when pressed, a signal would summon a butler who would bring a Diet Coke on a silver platter; Trump reportedly also used the button to request lunch, and to pull pranks on new visitors to the White House.[7][8][9] Donald Trump stated to one reporter that "everyone thinks it is [the nuclear button]"[10] and that "[e]veryone does get a little nervous when I press that button."[5] Trump reportedly drank up to 12 Diet Cokes per day.[9]

Joe Biden presidency

In the first few days of Joe Biden's presidency, it was reported that he had the button removed,[11][12] however it appeared to return a few weeks later when a White House official told Politico that the button was back on the desk with an unspecified purpose.[5][13]


  1. ^ Sims, Cliff (2019). Team of Vipers My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House. St. Martin's Publishing Group. p. 78. ISBN 9781250223890. Retrieved January 26, 2021 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "'Yes, Mr. President': A call button for President Bush on his desk in the Oval Office". Time Magazine. April 4, 2008. Archived from the original on July 24, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  3. ^ Stone, Chelsea (April 26, 2017). "Donald Trump Made This Big Change to the Oval Office". Architectural Digest. Archived from the original on May 1, 2017. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  4. ^ Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum [@LBJLibrary] (2017-04-26). "Many have asked about LBJ having a Fresca button in the White House. Short answer—yes, he did. More details from our archives:" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 2021-01-31. Retrieved 2021-01-26 – via Twitter.
  5. ^ a b c McLaughlin, Kelly. "Biden brought the button Trump used to order Diet Cokes back to the Oval Office". Business Insider. Retrieved April 8, 2021.
  6. ^ Strutner, Suzy (October 13, 2017). "Obama Used His Oval Office Red Button For Tea, According To Richard Branson". HuffPost. Archived from the original on October 3, 2018. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  7. ^ Evon, Dan (January 21, 2021). "Did Trump Have a 'Diet Coke' Button in the Oval Office?". Snopes. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  8. ^ Lejeune, Tristan (January 21, 2021). "Trump's Diet Coke button appears to have left Oval Office when he did". TheHill. Archived from the original on January 21, 2021. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  9. ^ a b Haberman, Maggie; Thrush, Glenn; Baker, Peter (December 9, 2017). "Inside Trump's Hour-by-Hour Battle for Self-Preservation". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 11, 2017. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  10. ^ Abramson, Alana (April 27, 2017). "President Trump Presses a Button in the Oval Office to Get a Coke". Time. Archived from the original on April 30, 2017. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  11. ^ Massie, Graeme (January 21, 2021). "Biden removes Trump's Diet Coke button from the White House". The Independent. Archived from the original on January 22, 2021. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  12. ^ Reimann, Nicholas (January 21, 2021). "Moon Rock In, Diet Coke Button Out: Here Are The Changes Joe Biden Has Made To Oval Office Decor". Forbes. Archived from the original on January 22, 2021. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  13. ^ Rayasam, Renuka; Ward, Myah (January 25, 2021). "Impeachment means 2022 is already here". Politico. Robert Allbritton. Archived from the original on January 26, 2021. Retrieved January 26, 2021.