© AP/Evan Vucci
US President Joe Biden
White House laughs off 'mass exodus' of Biden aides

A spate of resignations by high-profile aides to President Biden has left the remaining White House staff frustrated as they toil with a crumbling domestic agenda, sky-high inflation, the war in Ukraine and dimming prospects for Democrats in the November elections.

The high turnover at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, critics say, is a sign that those surrounding Mr. Biden are increasingly worried about a Democratic bloodbath at the polls and the prospects of Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

A GOP takeover on Capitol Hill would be the death knell for the Biden's already stalled agenda and guarantee an onslaught of congressional investigations of the administration.

Jimmy Keady, a Republican strategist, commented:
"It's a mass exodus before midterms. Someone will be to blame and it's not going to be Joe Biden's terrible policies. Heads will roll after the midterms and in politics, responsibility runs downhill. No one wants to be holding the bag at the end."
Democrats say the departures, especially in the summer, are common for administrations of either party. They say Mr. Biden's core advisers, including White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, have remained stable. None of his original advisers, including Steve Ricchetti and Bruce Reed, have left the administration.

Antjuan Seawright, a Democrat strategist, said:
"It is very normal for people to transition out of an administration and we've seen that historically in every administration. People come in, get things set up, and then move on to either the private sector or another role in government."
He dismisses the notion that the summer departures forecast trouble for Democrats. He said administration personal shifts usually happen ahead of fall because of summer vacations and a desire to shift into a new job before children start school.

Still, Democrats can't help but fret about losing Congress this fall, which has also spurred 22 House Democrats to retire this year.

Mr. Biden's approval ratings have been mired around 40% for the past year and polls show Americans angry over rising prices and a struggling economy.

Since taking office, Mr. Biden has seen 26% of his executive staff leave the administration, according to data from the Brookings Institution. That makes Mr. Biden's staff relatively stable compared to his predecessors.

A whopping 66% of former President Donald Trump's executive staff moved on within two years. Yet, former President Barack Obama only lost 24% of his staff during his first two years, according to Brookings' data.

Comment: Trump fired quite a number of staff versus Biden's crew walking out.

Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush lost 38% and 33% of their staff within two years, respectively.

Still, the departures from the Biden administration will have an impact.

White House Counsel Dana Remus, who oversaw the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice-designate Ketanji Brown Jackson, this week announced she'll leave next month. Stuart Delery, her top deputy, will take over the role, which includes overseeing the president's judicial nominations.

Also last week, the White House named Keisha Lance Bottoms, the former mayor of Atlanta, to serve as a senior adviser to the president for public engagement, replacing Cedric Richmond, who left the White House last month.

Ms. Bottoms joins the White House after serving as vice chairwoman of civic engagement and voter protection at the Democratic National Committee, a position that could help Mr. Biden's outreach ahead of the midterms.

The departures are part of a series of high-profile moves in recent weeks. White House press secretary Jen Psaki and COVID czar Jeffrey D. Zients both left in May. There has also been a steady exodus of aides out of Vice President Kamala Harris' office.

Mr. Biden's press team also has been rocked by a slew of departures. Mike Gwin, who served as the White House's rapid response director, left this week to take a job at the Treasury Department. Another member of the press team, wrangler Michael Kikukawa also left for a job at the Treasury.

Vedant Patel, who had the role of assistant press secretary, bolted for the State Department in May. Earlier this month, Amanda Finney, the chief of staff for the press office, moved to the Department of Energy.

All of those who left had served in the administration since Mr. Biden took office in January 2021.

"I know every day, every day I'm going to be doing these little goodbyes, but I promise we will have a press shop," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre joked at a recent press briefing. "But not everyone is leaving."