President Biden has confirmed that his former COVID-19 czar Jeff Zients will replace Ron Klain as White House chief of staff, one of the first major shake-ups of a top administration post since Mr. Biden took office two years ago.
Mr. Biden expressed confidence Mr. Zients will continue Mr. Klain’s “ example of smart, steady leadership, as we continue to work hard every day for the people we were sent here to serve,” in a statement Friday confirming previous reports of the transition.
“When I ran for office, I promised to make government work for the American people,” Mr. Biden said. “That’s what Jeff does. A big task ahead is now implementing the laws we’ve gotten passed efficiently and fairly.”
The president noted Mr. Zients’s work fixing the troubled healthcare.gov rollout under the Obama administration and later on the National Economic Council before managing the national pandemic response in the early days of the Biden administration.
The president also extended words of praise for Mr. Klain, who has remained at the top spot in Mr. Biden’s inner circle since his inauguration and is credited, in part, for Mr. Biden’s string of legislative victories throughout the first half of his administration and the Democrats’ better-than-expected showing in the November midterm elections.
Mr. Klain, a longtime fixture in the Democratic Party with extensive ties to its more liberal wing, was an aide in Mr. Biden’s Senate office and also served as Mr. Biden’s chief of staff during his vice presidency.
He has been an outspoken supporter of the president and a champion for Democratic priorities throughout his time in office, with an unusually active social media profile in defense of administration policies and priorities.
“During the last 36 years, Ron and I have been through some real battles together. And when you’re in the trenches with somebody for as long as I have been with Ron, you really get to know the person,” Mr. Biden said. “You see what they’re made of.”
Mr. Zients will step into his new role as Mr. Biden faces the biggest personal ethics crisis of his presidency surrounding his mishandling of classified government documents.
The president is facing a congressional probe into the matter by House Republicans, who now hold the majority in the chamber.
The White House has also been placed on a more defensive footing by an onslaught of planned Republican-led probes into Mr. Biden’s relationship with his son Hunter Biden’s far-flung foreign business ventures, the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and the spike in illegal border crossings since he took office.
Despite Mr. Klain’s impending departure, Mr. Biden’s inner circle has remained largely intact.
Many of those who have departed the Biden administration up until this point have been outside of the senior-most levels or aides to Vice President Kamala Harris, whose staff members have turned over more frequently.
Former President Donald Trump was on his third chief of staff at this point in his presidency.
The White House will host an official event next week to mark the transition, Mr. Biden said.
• Joseph Clark can be reached at email@example.com.
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