Shake-up among WH staff, top Biden advisor headed to new role ahead of midterms

Though the messaging out of the White House has remained expectedly positive ahead of the midterm elections, news of further staff departures suggests President Joe Biden and his team may be bracing for a rocky November.

Speculation turned to positive confirmation Monday after it had been reported that Cedric Richmond, a senior advisor to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, would be leaving his role in the administration to become a senior advisor at the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The former member of both the Louisiana House and U.S. House of Representatives and one-time chair of the Congressional Black Caucus released a statement obtained by Fox News.

“I am thrilled,” Richmond wrote, “that the President has entrusted me with helping boost the robust work already being done at the DNC to make sure that Democrats grow their majorities in the House and Senate, and increase the number of Democratic governors in state capitals around the country.”

His advisory role, meant to assist with fundraising and messaging for the Democrats ahead of the midterms, will begin in May and Jaime Harrison, the current DNC chair, was pleased to welcome him in this new role.

“There are few people more capable of helping us continue to build on our successes and deliver our message as we head into the midterm elections,” Harrison wrote in a statement. “We look forward to having Cedric join our already strong team as we continue to work in close partnership with the White House and our sister committees to protect and expand our Democratic majorities. The Democratic Party is all-in and leaving nothing to chance.”

Richmond had been reportedly golfing with the president on Sunday, but that didn’t stop Psaki, who herself will be departing the administration for a role at MSNBC, from denying any movement before later contradicting herself.

“Well, let me first say that Cedric Richmond has been, continues to be a vital, essential advisor to the President – was on the campaign, continues to be in the White House,” she said during Monday’s White House press briefing. “I have been in many meetings with Cedric Richmond, where the president goes to him and looks to him for his political sense, his assessment of Congress. He trusts him implicitly.”

Though she had hedged saying there was “nothing to announce,” she did preview a “new important role to – for Cedric Richmond and something the president is excited about and has asked him to do.”

In addition to Richmond and Psaki, Reuters reported that White House climate advisor Gina McCarthy intends to step down and additional members of the press team may also be seeking an exit. While it is suspected deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will replace Psaki, the outlet also reported Anita Dunn would be returning to a public relations role for the president.

Dunn, who had worked as an interim communications director for former President Barack Obama, had left Biden’s team in July to rejoin her own communications firm. Having played an integral role in Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, she will likely be leading messaging going into the midterms. The move is an interesting one considering there had been concerns surrounding her reported claim that Biden had won the presidency because of a “remarkable string of chance events” and that “Covid is the best thing that ever happened to him.”

As Reuters wrote, “It is fairly standard for top White House officials to warn staff long before midterm and presidential elections that they should depart with plenty of lead time, or stay until the election is over.” However, there has been no evidence to support whether Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain has released such a memo to the team as departures continue.

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