Last week White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced two team departures, saying that WH rapid response director Mike Gwin and press assistant Michael Kikukawa would be leaving to serve in public affairs at the US Treasury. The exits came as part of an ongoing staff shakeup ahead of the November midterm elections.
Amid a slew of departures in the White House of late, many aides in President Joe Biden’s administration are “tapped out,” according to The Hill.
“It’s been a long few years. The burnout is real. It might not be the ideal time to leave with everything going on, but it’s the right time,” a senior administration official was cited as acknowledging.
Indeed, several top officials have simultaneously announced they are moving on, and despite 18 months being typical for staff turnover in the White House, the timing- ahead of crucial November midterm elections – raises concerns.
“Given the complex challenges that the administration is facing, these departures are coming at an inopportune time,” Democratic strategist Joel Payne was cited as saying. Payne conceded that, “at this point in an administration, it is not abnormal to experience attrition.”
This week it was announced that White House counsel Dana Remus would exit next month, to be replaced by her top deputy Stuart Delery. Remus had been noted for overseeing the selection of Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the Supreme Court, as well a slew of federal judicial seats.
In other replacements, this week, Keisha Lance Bottoms, former mayor of Atlanta, was named senior adviser to the president for public engagement. She will take over from former Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), who left the White House in May.
In another appointment this week, director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, was also promoted to the role of senior adviser and assistant to the president. Rodriquez who will be the first Latina to ever hold a top West Wing staffing role, writes The Hill, as the Democrats display anxiety about their chances to win over Hispanic voters, particularly in Florida.
President Joe Biden’s director of rapid response, Mike Gwin, departed the White House for the US Treasury Department, as did WH press assistant, Michael Kikukawa.
Vedant Patel, who formerly assistant press secretary, left for the State Department, and Amanda Finney, ex-chief of staff in the WH press office, made a move for the Department of Energy.
The most notable departure from the White House press office has been that of ex-press secretary Jen Psaki. Psaki bowed out last month to take a job at MSNBC and was replaced by Karine Jean-Pierre, who made history as the first Black and first openly LGBTQ person to take on the position.
‘Expected GOP Onslaught’
The exit of Dana Remus comes as pollsters predict a GOP takeover of the closely split House and Senate chambers after November’s midterm election.
Amid the economic woes such as runaway inflation at a 40-year high and soaring energy costs, voters can be expected to take out their frustration on the Democratic president and his party when they head for the polls to elect all members of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate.
According to political analyst David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report, Republicans would gain between 20 to 35 House seats in the midterms.
While the party of the president typically lost an average of 23 US House seats in midterm elections since 1974, this year might actually see the democrats fare even worse.
As of May, latest Gallup data claims the presidential job approval and several other ‘national mood indicators’ measure at least 10 points lower than the historical average.Gallup’s May 2-22 survey found 41% of Americans approved of the job President Joe Biden was doing, 18% approved of the job Congress is doing, 16% were satisfied with the way things were going in the US. There was also a 32-percentage-point deficit in positive (14%) versus negative (46%) ratings of current economic conditions.
The sporadic overhaul of Biden’s staff comes as his approval rating dropped for its third straight week, sinking to 39 percent, according to a new Reuters-Ipsos poll. 56 percent of Americans disapprove of Joe Biden’s job performance, showed the survey.
Furthermore, is the GOP has been hoping to unleash a plethora of investigations into the Biden administration in case of success in the midterms, ranging from the origins of the coronavirus pandemic to hearing from the President’s son, Hunter Biden.
Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, said in January that Hunter Biden will testify before the committee if Republicans are in charge.
“We have a lot of questions about where he gets his money, from his artwork, and from his consulting deals,” Comer was cited as saying by CNN.
Dana Remus’s departure offers good timing for the White House to prepare for possible GOP investigations, former Rep. Chris Carney (D-Pa.), a senior policy adviser at Nossaman LLP, was cited by the publication as saying.
“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. Not everyone shares Carney’s optimism, however.
“It doesn’t look good. 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,” a Democratic strategist was quoted as acknowledging.
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