Ron Klein: White House chief of staff expected to resign within weeks of State of the Union address


White House chief of staff Ron Klein, who was a central force in Joe Biden’s first two years in office, is expected to step down within weeks of the president’s State of the Union address, according to multiple people familiar with the matter.

Klein, whose exact timetable is still undetermined, is expected to spend some time in the West Wing to help replace him during the transition, one of the people said. The State of the Union address is scheduled for February 7.

Klein’s departure comes at a difficult time for Biden, with a special counsel investigating his handling of classified information as vice president and with the administration and the president’s family facing scrutiny in the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives. New round of review. An official familiar with Kline’s plans said his decision to resign was unrelated to the ongoing investigation into classified documents discovered in Biden’s private office and Delaware residence, and the decision was made before the special counsel was announced.

Klein has long said he intends to leave sometime after the midterm elections, pointing publicly — and privately in more detail — to the demanding and exhausting nature of the position. But Kline’s entrenched presence in nearly every aspect of the West Wing, combined with his decades-long relationship with Biden, has led some White House officials to urge him to stay in the role.

Still, officials have been quietly weighing his potential successor, including presidential adviser Steve Ricchetti, one of Biden’s closest advisers for years; Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack ; Labor Secretary Marty Walsh; Jeff Zients, a former Obama administration official in charge of Biden’s Covid-19 response; and Anita Dunn, a senior adviser for White House communications and messaging, among others.

Officials said Dunn had publicly said she did not want the job and had reiterated that view privately, though a person familiar with the matter said Dunn expressed interest in becoming the first female chief of staff.

The New York Times first reported Kline’s expected departure.

The veteran political figure’s tenure has been marked by a string of key legislative accomplishments from the White House and his penchant for delivering opinions on a variety of topics at all hours of the day. Klein became a central figure in the West Wing of the White House and a trusted advisor to Biden on decisions big and small.

Kline’s expected decision marks one of the first high-profile departures from an administration marked by low turnover in its first two years.

Biden announced that Klein would assume the top job on November 14, 2020, a few days after the presidential election.

On Friday, Klein marked Biden’s second anniversary with a celebratory employee email and cake.

“Today — halfway through this President’s and Vice President’s term — we celebrate not just what has been achieved, but how: through teamwork, collaboration, mutual respect and a lot of hard work. This team has done a lot historic things, and accomplished them in historic fashion, as part of the most diverse and talented White House staff ever,” Klein told the White House in emails obtained by CNN assistant.

Klein pointed to jobs and economic growth, stabilization of the pandemic, climate action, steps to combat racism and promote equity, and efforts to protect democracy in the United States and abroad as examples of their success.

“I’m just astounded by what this team has done and how you’ve done it. So I’m treating everyone to cake this afternoon to celebrate our success and your hard work,” he said in an email.

Kline served alongside Biden as chief counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee in the early 1990s, and the Delaware Democrat is the committee’s chairman. Two years later, Kline led President Bill Clinton’s team leading the confirmation of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

He later became Vice President Al Gore’s second chief of staff, and while he left in 1999 amid a dispute between Gore and Clinton allies, he returned to the Tennessee Democratic presidential campaign a year later, And become his general counsel for a future recount effort or, ultimately, George W. Bush’s 537-vote victory in Florida in 2000 that brought the Republicans to the White House.

Klein went on to work as a lobbyist and political consultant, and was involved in John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. He was once again working for Biden as the vice president’s chief of staff early in President Barack Obama’s administration.

He left the White House in 2011 to help lead an investment firm, but returned to the White House in 2014 when Obama appointed him Ebola Response Coordinator, the task he oversaw the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic after Biden took office skill set.

This story and headline have been updated.

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