Joe Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain to step down in coming weeks

Joe Biden's chief of staff Ron Klain to step down in coming weeks

White House chief of staff Ron Klain is expected to resign as soon as next month, according to a report.

Mr. Klain began privately discussing his plans to step down around the November midterm elections and a search for his replacement is underway, senior administration officials told The New York Times. 

The officials, who spoke to the newspaper on the condition of anonymity, would not say whether a successor had already been identified, but said Mr. Klain would depart at some point after President Biden delivers his State of the Union address on Feb. 7.

Mr. Klain’s impending departure after two years of serving as the president’s top adviser marks the most significant staff shakeup at the White House since Mr. Biden took office.

Mr. Klain’s replacement will step into the role as Mr. Biden faces the biggest political crisis of his presidency surrounding his mishandling of government secrets.

Classified government documents dating back to Mr. Biden’s time as vice president in the Obama White House were discovered at a Washington office building that he used when he was an honorary professor at the University of Pennsylvania on Nov. 2, just six days before the midterm elections.

The matter only became public two months later when it was uncovered by CBS News.

A second batch of classified documents was later found in Mr. Biden’s Wilmington garage by White House aides. Mr. Biden’s staff notified the Justice Department that it had discovered the second batch on Dec. 20.

Those documents were publicly disclosed on Jan. 12.

Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a special counsel to review Mr. Biden’s mishandling of the classified documents.

The president is also facing a congressional probe into the matter House Republicans, who now hold the majority in the chamber.

The White House has also been placed on a more defensive footing by an onslaught of Republican-led probes into Mr. Biden’s alleged involvement in his son Hunter Biden’s far-flung foreign business ventures, the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and the spike in illegal border crossings under the Biden administration.

Despite the challenges facing the administration, Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright cautions against reading too much into the timing of Mr. Klain’s departure. 

“When it’s all said and done, Ron Klain will go down perhaps as not only one of the longest serving chiefs of staff in history of this country, but perhaps one of the most consequential,” he said. “He was there as a frontline soldier for one of the most productive administrations and presidents in modern history.”

“This is just the normal course for those who come in to the administration,” he added. “As the president transitions to the second half of his term, one could expect that there will be departures and transitions within the administration.”

Among those reportedly on the short list of Mr. Klain’s successors include Steve Richetti, counselor to the president; Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, White House senior advisor Anita Dunn and Jeff Zients, the former White House COVID-19 response coordinator. 

Mr. Klain who has remained at the top spot in Mr. Biden’s inner circle since his inauguration is credited, in part, for Mr. Biden’s string of legislative victories throughout the first half of his administration and Democrats’ better-than-expected showing in the November midterm elections. 

Mr. Klain, a longtime fixture in the Democratic Party, was an aide in Mr. Biden’s Senate office and served as Mr. Biden’s chief of staff during his vice presidency. 

He has been an outspoken supporter of the president and a champion for Democratic priorities throughout his time in office.

In October, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel found Mr. Klain violated the Hatch Act, a law barring federal employees from participating in political activity while acting in an official capacity, following a probe prompted by the Trump-aligned America First Legal Foundation. 

The OSC said Mr. Klain ran afoul of the law in a May post from his official Twitter account encouraging people to purchase “Democrats Deliver” merchandise benefitting the Democrats’ Strike PAC.

The OSC issued Mr. Klain a warning for the violation but decided against pursuing disciplinary action.

Despite Mr. Klain’s impending departure, Mr. Biden’s inner circle has remained largely intact. 

Many of those that have departed the Biden administration up until this point have been outside of the senior-most levels or aides to Vice President Kamala Harris, whose staff members have turned over more frequently.

Former President Donald Trump was on his third chief of staff at this point in his presidency.  

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