President Biden on Friday announced that he had tapped Jeff Zients to replace Ron Klain as White House Chief of Staff.
Zients, who led the Biden Administration’s Covid-19 response, will succeed Ron Klain, who steps down next week.
Biden complimented Klain in a statement Friday morning, calling him “as tough, smart, determined, and persistent as anyone I have ever met.”
Biden meawhile said of Zients that he was “confident that Jeff will continue Ron’s example of smart, steady leadership, as we continue to work hard every day for the people we were sent here to serve.”
The President added, “I’ve seen Jeff Zients tackle some of the toughest issues in government.”
Biden further said that the White House would hold a formal event for Klain next week and “officially welcome Jeff back to the White House in this role.”
In his resignation letter, Klain said it had been “quite a journey” serving Biden. He noted that he had joined Biden’s then-Senate staff 36 years ago on the day he returned from his honeymoon.
Klain promised to complete “an orderly handoff” to Zients and promised to do “whatever I can to help your campaign” should Biden choose to run for reelection in 2024.
According to Chris Whipple, author of “The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency,” the position is perhaps the “toughest job” in any Presidential Administration and few last more than two years in the role.
The longest serving White House Chief of Staff was John R. Steelman—although he did not have that title at the time. Steelman served six years from 1946 to 1953 as Truman’s “Assistant to the President of the United States,” the office that would become “Chief of Staff” under President Eisenhower.