We’ve been reporting how there’s been a big shake-up over the past few months at the White House, particularly in the communications area.
One of the many changes was former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki finally heading for the exits last month, to be replaced by her deputy, now Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. But Psaki was also joined in making for the door by Assistant Press Secretary Vedant Patel (going to the State Department), Press Office Chief of Staff Amanda Finney (going to the Energy Department), White House Rapid Response Director Mike Gwin (going to the Treasury Department) and Michael Kikukawa (also going to Treasury). That’s a good chunk of the communications team and came as the media is losing patience with the White House.
The change doesn’t seem to have been for the better so far, as Jean-Pierre keeps having difficulties. They brought in ‘help’ on Wednesday — John Kirby, the new National Security Council coordinator for Strategic Communications but that didn’t seem to help much.
But that’s not the only place where there has been turnover and one senior administration official acknowledged that many aides are “tapped out.”
“It’s been a long few years,” the official said. “The burnout is real. It might not be the ideal time to leave with everything going on, but it’s the right time.”
The official explained the early summer months are considered the best time to leave before midterms season begins. “And then you’re really locked in,” they added.
The latest official leaving this week is White House counsel Dana Remus. Her deputy Stuart Delery is going to replace her. Remus was in charge of things like helping to select federal judicial nominees, like Ketanji Brown Jackson. But if the Republicans win in November, the White House counsel position may have to have to deal with the Congressional investigations involving Biden that are likely to start coming in fast and furious.
The Democrats are already conceding the wave is about to take them out and the investigations are coming.
Former Rep. Chris Carney (D-Pa.), a Biden ally and senior policy adviser at Nossaman LLP, argued that Remus’s departure offers good timing for the White House to prepare for such investigations.
“I think it would be more surprising if she left in the fall. I think that her timing now provides Delery more than ample time to get prepared for the kinds of onslaught they expect from Republicans in the fall,” he said.
“It doesn’t look good,” said one Democratic strategist. “The perception from the outside is that it’s not the place you want to be. There’s a lot of finger-pointing going around right now. It doesn’t seem like it’s humming the way it should be.”
On top of that, 21 black staffers have left since December, raising concerns about a “Blaxit” from the White House. Perhaps one of the most critical people to leave has been former Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA). He’s been replaced by Keisha Lance Bottoms, coming in as a senior adviser to the president for public engagement. He was out the door to the DNC after reporting came out that he called left-wing Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) “f—ing idiots.” The White House called the move a “promotion.”
There was also a stir on Thursday surrounding the announcement of one of their new people. CBS’s Ed O’Keefe announced that Julie Chavez Rodriguez (the granddaughter of Cesar Chavez) would be the director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and the “first Latina to ever hold a top West Wing staffing role.”
FIRST FROM @CBSNews: @POTUS Biden is promoting @JulieCR46 to senior adviser and assistant to the president, making her the most senior #Latina to ever serve in a West Wing staff job: https://t.co/gxqhLXuF76
— Ed O'Keefe (@edokeefe) June 15, 2022
That wasn’t true, as Mercedes Schlapp was a senior adviser to Trump, and Cecilia Munoz a senior adviser to Barack Obama. But again this makes one wonder about the journalism here — did Ed O’Keefe just take what the White House likely told him on faith, without even checking? Because that’s what it looks like and his tweet is still up, without any seeming correction.
The instability is likely to sink them big time as they go into the midterms.