President Joe Biden will appoint a former COVID czar to be his next chief of staff, according to a report Sunday.
Sources told The Washington Post that Jeff Zients would be named the successor to Ron Klain, who is expected to step down as chief of staff in the coming weeks. A formal announcement has yet to be made as of press time.
Zients served as COVID response coordinator for the first year-plus of Biden’s presidency, leading the charge in promoting vaccinations. In the spring of 2022, when Biden announced Ashish Jha would be taking over the role, the president praised Zients as “a man of service and an expert manager.”
So far, the White House remains tightlipped about a chief of staff overhaul. Still, senior administration officials told The New York Times that Klain has been telling colleagues privately he planned to step down ever since the midterm elections.
Insiders told The Washington Post that Zients returned to the White House in the fall to help Klain with staff turnover after the 2022 elections. Klain has been assigning Zients various projects, which some insiders have viewed as Klain preparing Zients for the chief of staff position, the report added.
Zients established himself as a wealthy investor who took on various senior roles in the Obama administration and served on Facebook’s board of directors. A Wall Street Journal analysis in March 2021 showed Zients listed assets worth at least $89.3 million, placing him among the richest of Biden’s top aides.
If he does become chief of staff, Zients will take on the top job as Biden faces a growing controversy over his handling of classified documents.
The White House has repeatedly insisted the president and his attorneys are fully cooperating with the National Archives and Justice Department as an investigation turns up more classified documents at Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware, residence and a think tank office dating back as far back as his time in the Senate.