Zients to replace Klain as White House chief of staff

Jeff Zients, the former White House coronavirus response coordinator, is expected to replace Ron Klain as White House chief of staff, two sources familiar with the plans told The Hill.

Zients left his role as Biden’s first COVID-19 czar in April 2022 after advising the pandemic response effort and was replaced by Ashish Jha. He returned this fall ahead of the midterm elections to assist Klain with preparations for staff turnover as well as other projects.

The White House declined to comment.

Zients was director of the National Economic Council under former President Obama and before that was acting director of the Office of Management and Budget. Between the Obama and Biden administrations, he was chief executive officer of an investment firm, Cranemere, and was on the board of directors of Facebook.

Klain will likely leave following President Biden’s State of the Union address on Feb. 7, The New York Times first reported. Klain, who has been in the role for longer than any other Democratic president’s chief of staff, is expected to remain in his current role for some time to help his successor acclimate.

Prior to government, Zients was a management consultant for Mercer Management Consulting, which is now Oliver Wyman, and Bain & Company. He also was CEO and chairman of the Advisory Board Company alongside David Bradley, the former owner of The Atlantic. Zients, who is a Washington, D.C., native, formed a group with Colin Powell and others in 2005 to purchase the Washington Nationals.

Zients would enter the role as Biden readies for a possible reelection bid. The president is on track to signal that he will seek another term around the time of the State of the Union.

Klain’s exit is expected to precede broader staff changes as some in the White House transition out to work on a 2024 reelection campaign. Klain, a longtime Biden adviser, has told colleagues since the midterm elections in November that he is preparing to leave.

The news of a chief of staff turnover came as Biden’s approval dropped to 40 percent, which is nearing his record low, this week after the discovery of classified documents from his time as vice president.

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