The White House’s next chief of staff is reported to be an ex-Covid Czar for the Biden administration.
Jeff Zients is being reported as Biden’s next Chief of Staff, replacing the outgoing Ron Klain.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 22, 2023
Zients stepped down as the Covid-19 coordinator in April and was replaced by Dr. Ashish Jha. His departure signaled the Biden administration’s pivot away from pandemic policy and messaging.
In October 2020, Zients became co-chair of the presidential transition of Joe Biden. He is an Obama holdover that performed such tasks as the overhaul of the dysfunctional Healthcare.gov.
Ron Klain is expected to step down in the coming weeks amid a host of scandals, investigations and policy troubles facing the Biden administration. The details on the Biden administration tapping Zients was reported by CNN.
“The move to replace Klain is particularly important for Biden, who has entered a critical moment in his presidency and his political future,” CNN reported. “As he continues to weigh whether to seek reelection in 2024, the early stages of a special counsel investigation into his handling of classified documents has rattled Democrats and emboldened congressional Republicans, who now hold the House majority and have pledged their own probes.”
“Biden decided on Zients after an internal search when it became clear that Klain favored Zients as his successor, a factor that played a big role in the president’s decision,” the report continued. “Klain had tapped Zients to lead a talent search for expected staff turnover following the midterm elections, but that didn’t ultimately materialize after Democrats performed better than expected. Klain is now the most significant departure and is being replaced by the person he picked to help bring in new team members.”
The New York Times reported on Saturday that Klain would be stepping down in the coming weeks:
Mr. Klain has been telling colleagues privately since the November midterm elections that after a grueling, nonstop stretch at Mr. Biden’s side going back to the 2020 campaign, he is ready to move on, according to senior administration officials, and a search for a replacement has been underway. […]
The departure would also come at a time when the White House faces a widening array of political and legal threats from a newly appointed special counsel investigating the improper handling of classified documents and a flurry of other inquiries by the newly installed Republican majority in the House. The next chief of staff will be charged with managing the defense of Mr. Biden’s White House and any counterattack as the 2024 election approaches.
Klain was one of Biden’s most trusted advisers. That one of Biden’s most loyal and closest aides is being replaced with an ex-Covid czar reveals a lot about how political his administration viewed the pandemic response.
Follow Kyle Becker on Twitter @kylenabecker.