Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, said reports that White House chief of staff Ron Klain plans to step down are a “key tell” that Democrats are ready to move on from President Joe Biden ahead of the 2024 election.
Klain’s alleged departure was first reported by The New York Times on Saturday, which cited anonymous sources. The White House had not publicly confirmed Klain’s exit by publication. He has served in the Biden administration since the president took office last January, helping him score legislative victories including the passage of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, new investments in the nation’s infrastructure, and the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed last year that will also fund green energy programs.
Reports of his departure come as Biden wrestles with GOP control of the House of Representatives during the second half of his first term—and as the 2024 presidential election, which Biden indicated he plans to run in, shapes up. It also comes amid a Department of Justice (DOJ) probe into whether Biden mishandled classified documents when he was vice president under former President Barack Obama.
Reactions to reports of Klain’s departure quickly poured in on social media on Saturday, with Gaetz offering his theory on what Klain’s departure could mean for Biden’s future.
He tweeted that that he believes this indicates Democrats’ readiness to move away from Biden in favor of other potential candidates in the 2024 presidential race.
Although Biden has said he plans to run for reelection, some Democrats have called for him to retire at the end of his first term—raising concerns about his age and approval rating, which has ticked up since last summer when high gas prices and inflation bogged down his popularity.
“This is the key tell that what I said last week is likely true – the Deep State is taking out Biden,” the GOP lawmaker tweeted. He referred to a Fox News interview in which he speculated that Democrats could use the classified documents probe to “take out” Biden ahead of the 2024 race.
“I don’t know that that’s the case, but I don’t know that it’s not,” he told Fox News Digital on Thursday. “But just as Joe Biden is hardening the cement around his decision to run for president again, they start looking for what classified documents might have been tucked away eight years ago.”
Donald Trump‘s former attorney Jenna Ellis offered up a similar theory on Saturday, tweeting: “Ron Klain stepping down is just a further indication they’re gonna take out Biden with the classified docs scandal and then come after Trump.”
Although polls point to Biden fatigue among many Democratic voters, no meaningful opposition has emerged within the party. High-profile Democrats have deferred to Biden’s decision, saying they would not primary him should he choose to run—and primary challenges against a sitting president historically do not fare well.
Despite the classified documents investigation and concerns about whether Biden would be a strong 2024 candidate, his approval rating has held steady, making it more difficult for another Democratic candidate to gain traction. Still, many could jump in if Biden announces a retirement.
Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.