President Joe Biden has entered a pivotal phase of his administration. With the midterm elections behind him, Biden now intends to launch a campaign for re-election, even while dealing with the still-unfolding scandal over the classified records in his Delaware home.
During this new phase of the administration, Biden is seeing some Senate Democrats turn on him… and he’s even saying goodbye to his top aide Ron Klain.
On Friday, a fourth trove of documents was found at one of Biden’s addresses. Prior to that, the administration’s spokesperson had promised that the search had been “completed.” The president himself told reporters on Thursday that he had “no regrets” over how and when the public learned about the documents and that there was “no there there.”
Some of Biden’s fellow Democrats have turned on him.
Biden should be “embarrassed by the situation,” said Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, adding that the president had ceded the moral high ground on an issue that has already entangled former President Donald Trump. Special counsels appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland are investigating both cases.
“Well, of course. Let’s be honest about it. When that information is found, it diminishes the stature of any person who is in possession of it because it’s not supposed to happen. … The elected official bears ultimate responsibility,” Durbin said.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Biden “should have a lot of regrets. … You just might as well say, ‘Listen, it’s irresponsible.’”
Plus, Biden’s current chief of staff, Ron Klain, is preparing to leave the job in the coming weeks.
Biden will likely replace Klain with a lower-profile staffer named Jeff Zients, insiders told The Washington Post.
The change at the highest levels of senior staff comes as Biden passes his two-year mark in office and pivots to a defensive stance against a House Republican majority hungry to investigate his administration’s actions. The White House remains mired in controversy over discoveries of classified documents at Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, and at his former institute in Washington, with the latest tranche of found records disclosed Saturday evening.
Biden, 80, is also preparing to launch his reelection campaign in the coming weeks. He is confronting a Republican presidential field that is far from formed but for now is led by former President Donald Trump.
Klain has remained tight-lipped about the reason for his exit. Plus, he’ll remain in Biden’s political orbit, an insider told the Associated Press. Likewise, Cedric Richmond was the president’s first director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and now is a senior adviser at the Democratic National Committee.
However, Klain is still facing questions about the timing of his departure.
“It’s odd to me, that if The New York Times article that Chief of Staff Ron Klain is leaving, if that article is correct, the timing of all this is so curious to me,” Larry Kudlow, a newscaster and a Trump administration alum, said Sunday on Fox News. “We learned late last night that the FBI was in the Wilmington House all day on Friday… And that’s the reason that President Biden was going to go to Rehoboth.”
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., went even further. He described the timing as convenient.
As chair of the House Oversight Committee, Comer called for Klain to release the visitor logs to Biden’s addresses, due to the possible presence of classified records.
One Twitter suspected that Klain was stepping aside to run Biden’s re-election campaign.
Other observers have described a two-year turnover as normal in any White House.
“I don’t think this is tied to anything other than the typical normal cycle of a chief of staff after about 18 months to two years packing it up and doing something different,” former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., said Sunday on Fox News.
However, Huckabee also suspected that Klain was especially overworked.
“People felt like that Ron Klain was really Ron Brain, he was the one that was running things… And if that’s the case, and he had to also get the mop and broom and clean up after Joe’s every moment at the podium, he’s probably just ready to say, ‘that’s it, I’m done. I got to get out of here and get my life back together.'”
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article.