REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (AP) – White House Chief of Staff Ron Klainwho spent more than two years as President Joe Biden’s top adviser, is preparing to step down in the coming weeks, according to a person familiar with Klain’s plans.
Klain’s expected departure comes shortly after the White House and Democrats had a better-than-expected showing in the November election, buoyed by a series of big legislative achievements, including a bipartisan infrastructure bill and an overarching climate. , health and tax package that all Republicans rejected.
The personnel change is also a rarity for a government that has seen minimal turnover so far. No member of Biden’s cabinet has resigned, in contrast to Donald Trump’s White House, with frequent staff turmoil and other crises.
The person familiar with Klain’s plans was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity to confirm the development, which was first reported by The New York Times.
The White House did not return phone calls or emails seeking comment on Klain’s expected departure. Spending the weekend in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, Biden did not respond to shouted questions about when his chief of staff is due to leave.
Klain sent an email to White House staff on Friday, the second anniversary of Biden’s inauguration. “While there is still much work to do, when we look back over those two years I am amazed at what this team has done and how you have done it,” he wrote in the email, obtained by The Associated Press, and noted that he bought cake for mark the occasion. He added, “These cakes are my little way of adding my personal thanks to those of the President, Vice President and country for their outstanding service and accomplishments.”
Now that Republicans have regained a majority in the House, the White House is preparing to adopt a more defensive posture. Republican lawmakers are planning multiple investigations into the Biden administration, examining everything from the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan to US border policy. Republicans also promise to investigate the president’s son, Hunter Biden.
Klain’s departure also comes as the White House struggles to contain the fallout after confidential documents dating back to Biden’s time as vice president were discovered at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, and at his former institute in Washington. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to investigate the matter. Biden’s lawyer said on Saturday that the FBI searched the Wilmington home on Friday, locating six additional documents containing classified marks and taking possession of some of his notes.
Among those nominated to succeed Klain are Steve Ricchetti, adviser to the president; Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh; former White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients; Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack; and Anita Dunn, senior White House adviser.
Dunn has publicly ruled out being interested in the chief of staff position, but would be the first woman in the position. She played an important role in shaping Biden’s political and communications strategy, including the “ultra-MAGA” framing of Republicans that helped Democrats exceed expectations during the 2022 election.
Zients has returned to the White House since leading the COVID-19 response team in a low-key role to ensure the administration is adequately staffed for the remainder of Biden’s first term. Ricchetti, a former lobbyist, succeeded Klain and senior adviser Bruce Reed as Biden’s deputy chief of staff.
Walsh, mayor of Boston before joining Cabinet, received praise from Biden on Friday for his job performance. Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, is on his second stint as secretary of agriculture after serving the entire Obama administration. He volunteered for Biden during Biden’s ill-fated 1988 presidential bid from Iowa.
Klain, a former Democratic political agent, oversaw a west wing that has been largely free of the high-stakes drama that permeated the upper echelons of the Trump administration. Klain has been an outspoken advocate of Biden’s agenda via Twitter, where he frequently engages with reporters to defend the president’s record.
His use of social media has sometimes gotten Klain into trouble. In October, it was discovered that he violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits government officials from political activities when acting in their official capacities, when he retweeted a message from a political group last spring. At the time, the White House said Klain “got it wrong this time” and promised to be more careful with his Twitter account.
The Indianapolis native served under Biden for decades, including as chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee when Biden was its chairman. Klain also worked on judicial choices in the Clinton White House, helping with the Supreme Court nomination of Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
“With all due respect to my predecessors, I am sure this is a higher priority for me.” Klain said in an interview with the Associated Press last month in which he discussed the importance Biden places on the seat of judges on the federal bench. “The fact that (the president) makes this a priority, makes this a huge priority for me.”
Klain helped lead then-Vice President Al Gore’s legal team during the 2000 Florida election recount against Republican George W. Bush. Actor Kevin Spacey played Klain in HBO’s “Recount,” an account of the events that determined the presidency.
He was also chosen during the Obama administration to lead its response to the Ebola crisis – a track record that came in handy as the Biden White House grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic in the early months of his presidency.
Father of three children, he is married to Monica Medina, Assistant Secretary of State.
Balsamo and Miller reported from Washington.
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