Biden Administration Continues To Face Massive Staff Exodus

[Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

[Editor’s Note: Today was hit with a technical issue. We have replaced the hamster in the server’s hamster wheel and things are back up running. RIP Harold the Hamster.]

The Biden Administration is losing a key member of its staff. Antitrust advisor Tim Wu, who shaped the president’s attempts at reining in corporate power, will be exiting the White House in the coming months. 

Politico wrote that “Wu was part of a trio of antitrust hawks President Joe Biden installed last year as part of a push to curb the power sprawling companies — a fight that has focused in particular on tech titans like Amazon and Google. It’s unclear what Wu’s departure means for the Biden administration’s antitrust strategy, but it does mean one of the key drivers of Biden’s antitrust strategy won’t be there to push for those changes anymore.”

Wu is joining a proverbial flood of staffers who have left President Biden since he took office in 2021. Last month The Daily Mail documented that the staffing exodus is nearly from the current White House is four times more than what Obama lost in his first year in office and “a whopping fifteen times higher than the staff lost in Trump’s first year.” The exodus has included several senior officials who have found greener pastures elsewhere. 

A little more than a year and a half since taking office, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have witnessed several shakeups among key members of their staff, with more than 25 individuals leaving their roles with the administration to pursue other careers.

Notable departures include former White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who resigned in May for a gig at MSNBC and had served Biden since he took office, as well as Cedric Richmond, who also resigned in May after serving as director of the White House Office of Public Engagement since Biden took office.

In addition to Psaki and Richmond, other key players in the Biden White House who have resigned this year are Dana Remus, White House counsel and assistant to Biden who resigned in June; David Kamin, deputy director for the National Economic Council and deputy assistant to Biden who resigned in May; Pili Tobar, deputy director of communications and special assistant to Biden who resigned in May; Jeff Zients, who served as coordinator for COVID-19 response, as well as counselor to the president, resigned in April; and Eric Lander, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and Science, resigned in February.

Other departures include TJ Ducklo, who served as deputy press secretary, as well as special assistant to the president, who resigned in February 2021; Anita Dunn, who served as chief strategist and senior adviser to Biden, who resigned in August 2021 and later returned to the White House to work for Biden in April 2022; Jessica Hurtz, who served as White House staff secretary and deputy assistant to Biden resigned in October 2021; and Cathy Russell, who served as director of the White House office of presidential personnel and as an assistant to the president, resigned in December 2021.

The turnover among African American staff at the White House has been particularly notable. In May, Politico reported, “At least 21 Black staffers have left the White House since late last year or are planning to leave soon. Some of those who remain say it’s no wonder why: They describe a work environment with little support from their superiors and fewer chances for promotion….The departures have been so pronounced that, according to one current and one former White House official, some Black aides have adopted a term for them: “Blaxit.”

The New York Post noted some especially disturbing comments from Biden staff “‘We’re here and we’re doing a lot of work but we’re not decision-makers and there’s no real path towards becoming decision-makers,’ one current staffer told the outlet. ‘There is no real feedback and there’s no clear path to any kind of promotions.'” 

A different official said, “They brought in a ton of black people generally to start without ever establishing an infrastructure to retain them or help them be successful. If there is no clear infrastructure of how to be successful, you become just as invisible in this space than you would be if you were not in it.” 

“People have not had the best experiences and a lot of that has to do with the death of black leadership,’ another staffer in the White House told the outlet. “Think about any workplace. Black folks need some person to go to, to strategize and be a mentor, and we just don’t have as many folks who can be mentors to us.” 

During a 2019 primary debate, then-candidate Kamala Harris said, “I’m going to now direct this at Vice President Biden: I do not believe you are a racist, and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground,” she said. 

“But I also believe, and it’s personal — it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing. And, you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.”

The White House did push back against the idea that they were having trouble keeping a diversity of staff in the administration.

The Grio exclusively obtained a White House memo that was sent via email to the entire Biden-Harris executive office staff on Tuesday, the same day that Politico published its report. In the email, Anne Filipic, assistant to the president and director of Management and Administration, assured to staff of President Biden’s commitment to diversity and inclusion among White House ranks.

Filipic touted the administration’s work to build “from the ground up,” describing the early White House team in January 2021 as a 200-person “start-up” that eventually grew to more than 600 staffers. The Biden-Harris administration, she wrote, is determined to “further invest both in the experience of current staff and ensure that the White House team continues to be representative of America.”

Over the coming months, wrote Filipic, the White House would keep staff abreast of “concrete actions” it is taking to support current staff and strengthen its recruitment and retention efforts through programs like developing mentorships and creating an internal system for how White House employees can advance to more elevated roles.

In the memo, Filipic highlighted the administration’s existing policy that asks hiring managers to interview “no less than four candidates for each open White House role, with at least 50% of candidates identifying as diverse.” She announced that the White House will further its efforts to “ensure a consistent interviewing approach across departments and make sure that members of traditionally underrepresented communities are considered for open roles in the White House with consistency and intentionality.”

It’s not surprising that Biden is losing so many staff members. He’s historically unpopular and his party is desperately hoping he decides to step down after one term. Yesterday CNN counted the growing number of Democrats who are not sold on a Biden running in 2024 and cited a poll in which 75% of Democratic voters are hoping for someone else. Some prominent Democrats have explicitly said that he’s too old to run for another term.

The alternatives might not be any better, however. The New York Post recently wrote that Vice President Kamala Harris has seen a mass exodus, as well. Thirteen “key staffers have left the VP’s team in as many months, including chief of staff Tina Flournoy, chief spokesperson Symone Sanders, deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh, deputy chief of staff Michael Fuchs, communications director Ashley Etienne, director of digital strategies Rajun Kaur, director of advance Karly Satkowiak, deputy director of advance Gabrielle DeFranceschi, director of press operations Peter Velz, deputy director of public engagement Vince Evans, speechwriting director Kate Childs Graham — who Groob was hired to replace — and national security adviser Nancy McEldowney.

Amid the departures, Harris has come under a flurry of accusations from former aides who claimed the vice president is an office “bully” with a “soul-destroying” management style.”

Sometimes watching the Biden White House stumble from one problem to next leaves you with nothing to really say. All you can do is shrug.

[Read More: Pelosi Throws Biden Overboard, Doing The Dirty Work Dems Hope For]


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