In anticipation of a difficult midterm election for Republicans, Chief of Staff John Kelly is planning a West Wing staffing shuffle to bolster the president’s political staff.
Johnny DeStefano, currently the director of presidential personnel, is expected to be elevated to temporarily run three additional White House operations – the Offices of Public Liaison, Intergovernmental Affairs and Political Affairs. Additional staff will likely be brought in to serve these White House functions and report to Destefano.
Kelly is also seeking a senior level political strategist who will likely oversee Bill Stepien, the current White House political director. Stepien, who has the confidence of the president according to a White House official, is expected to continue in that role.
These staff changes were first reported by Axios and later by the Washington Post.
Republicans hold a 46-seat advantage in the House of Representatives, but some have expressed concern that majority could be in jeopardy in 2018.
A White House official said the realignment is also designed to position staff members for specific 2018 legislative pushes like an infrastructure bill. The president is calling for a trillion-dollar plan funded by a mix of tax dollars and private investment.
The White House is girding for a wave of senior level staff departures early next year. Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser to the president, has already announced her intention to leave after serving the president for a year.
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