Zients to Replace Klain as Biden’s Chief of Staff

    Zients to Replace Klain as Biden’s Chief of Staff
    Last updated Jan 23, 2023
    Image credit: The New York Times


    • After two years of serving in Pres. Biden's administration, Ron Klain is expected to step down as White House chief of staff in the coming weeks. Klain lasted longer than any other Democratic president's first chief of staff in more than 50 years.[1]
    • Klain, whose departure comes as Biden faces an investigation over the handling of classified documents from before his presidency, will be replaced by former Biden COVID lead Jeff Zients, who briefly left the administration in April, before returning ahead of the midterms.[2]
    • Though no specific date has been set, Klain is expected to leave the White House after Biden's State of the Union address Feb. 7 — a move he's reportedly been telling colleagues in private about since the November midterm elections.[3]
    • Having worked for Biden off and on for more than 30 years, Klain is seen by admirers as uniquely capable of advocating on behalf of the president, which showed during the process of passing the $1.9T COVID relief plan, the $1T bipartisan infrastructure program, and other economic policies.[1]
    • Klain’s tenure was also marked by some controversial social media posts. He retweeted an op-ed in 2021 insisting that year wasn't "all bad;" he also retweeted a poll showing Biden's approval underwater, and one that impacted the president's vaccine mandate.[4]
    • Zients also has a history with Biden, having worked for the then-senator from Delaware in the 1980s, and during Biden’s 1988 and 2008 presidential campaigns. He also worked as acting and deputy director of the Office of the Management and Budget under former Pres. Obama.[5]


    Republican narrative

    This administration has been chock-full of chaos and controversy since the beginning, and the departure of Klain — who’s probably taking the opportunity to distance himself from the worsening classified documents situation — won't change much. Zients will likely be the same conduit between an aging Biden and the Democratic Party's demands.

    Democratic narrative

    For the most part, Biden has enjoyed staff consistency, keeping Klain and his entire cabinet until now — marking him and Obama as the only presidents since Ronald Reagan to keep a full cabinet through the midpoint of their term. Historically, it’s normal to make a change of chief of staff at this point in a presidency. Unlike the Trump administration, the Biden White House has been successful policy-wise and stable personnel-wise.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 64% chance that Biden will officially declare his campaign for re-election by Nov. 15, 2023, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Political split