Reports: Ron Klain Is Expected to Leave White House Post

The “shadow president” has become a larger-than-life figure in conservative circles.

White House chief of staff Ron Klain.Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

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A few weeks ago, I was having lunch with a friend who is a former cop and a MAGA-leaning conservative. We were arguing about politics as usual, when he went on a rant about “President Ron Klain.” White House chiefs of staff generally aren’t household names, so I was impressed with his level of knowledge about the inner workings of the Biden White House. But then I realized that the familiarity was the result of the long running conservative attack on Biden’s mental fitness, a narrative that suggests Klain is the real wizard behind the curtain, running the show for a senile, geezer Democratic president. Thanks to Fox News and Republicans in Congress who regularly refer to him as “Prime Minister Klain,” Ron Klain has become a household name for a lot of ordinary Americans. 

In fact, in 2021 Fox News host Sean Hannity went on a tear about Klain, claiming that the “puppeteer” behind the “cognitively impaired” president didn’t understand ordinary people. “Shadow President and master puppeteer—so kind, so thoughtful and loving—Ron Klain…believes we smelly Walmart shoppers of America, that cling to God, guns, Bibles, and religion don’t need to worry about inflation,” Hannity said.

But Hannity and the Republicans may not have Klain to kick around much longer. The New York Times reported Saturday that the chief of staff is planning to step down in the coming weeks:

Mr. Klain has been telling colleagues privately since the November midterm elections that after a grueling, nonstop stretch at Mr. 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 the president outlined his agenda for the coming year in his State of the Union address on Feb. 7. Mr. Klain likely would stay around 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.

No replacement has yet been identified, but the next chief of staff will have big shoes to fill, at least at Fox News.

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