San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)

White House Chief of Staff Klain expected to step down

- By Peter Baker and Katie Rogers

WASHINGTON — Ron Klain, the White House chief of staff who has steered President Biden’s administra­tion through two years of triumphs and setbacks, is expected to step down in coming weeks in the most significan­t changing of the guard since Biden took office two years ago.

Klain, 61, has been telling colleagues privately since the November midterm elections that after a grueling, nonstop stretch at 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 officials, who discussed internal matters on condition of anonymity, would not say whether a successor has already been picked or when the decision would be announced, but indicated that it would come at some point after Biden outlined his agenda for the coming year in his State of the Union address on Feb. 7. Klain probably would remain for a transition period to help the next chief settle into the corner office that has been his command post for many crises and legislativ­e battles.

His resignatio­n would mark a striking moment of turnover at the top of an administra­tion that has been relatively stable through the first half of Biden’s term, and Klain takes pride that he has lasted longer than any other Democratic president’s first chief of staff in more than a half-century. But with Biden expected to announce by spring that he is running for re-election, advisers predict more moves as some aides shift from the White House to the campaign.

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 Biden’s White House as the 2024 election approaches.

Klain did not offer any immediate comment Saturday in response to messages.

For all the crossfire, Klain helped rack up an impressive string of legislativ­e victories, including a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan; a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastruc­ture program; the largest investment in combating climate change in history; and measures to expand benefits for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits, lower prescripti­on drug costs for seniors, spur developmen­t in the semiconduc­tor industry and create a minimum 15% tax rate for major corporatio­ns.

Klain also helped oversee the distributi­on of vaccines that have curbed if not ended the COVID pandemic and the enactment of a plan to forgive hundreds of billions of dollars of student loan debt for millions of Americans. And he set the tone for the White House message to the world through an active Twitter account that he used to promote victories and to jab critics.

At the same time, Klain has presided over a rash of troubles that have drained public support for Biden. While unemployme­nt has remained near record lows and job creation was robust, inflation reached its highest rate in 40 years, gas prices shot up to an all-time high, economic growth stalled for a time and illegal immigratio­n at the southweste­rn border surged to record levels.

 ?? Doug Mills/New York Times 2022 ?? Ron Klain, the White House chief of staff, has been a singularly influentia­l figure in President Biden’s administra­tion.
Doug Mills/New York Times 2022 Ron Klain, the White House chief of staff, has been a singularly influentia­l figure in President Biden’s administra­tion.

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