Joe Biden’s head of personnel is eyeing the exits

7/27/2021 2:30:00 AM

Cathy Russell, Biden's head of personnel — and someone who goes back with him to the 1988 presidential campaign and was Jill Biden's chief of staff — could soon be on her way out. West Wing Playbook has more.

is a senior adviser in the White House.Even so, frustration with Russell’s office has been building for months. The murmurs first came in the spring but mostly from those who didn’t get jobs or didn’t get the jobs they wanted. There has been increasing angst among outside Biden allies and some in the White House as well about the office’s hiring pace and, what they say is, its poor communication.

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While the Biden transition underSUZY GEORGEvetted and hired 1,100 political appointees to start on Day 1, the PPO’s pace of hiring after the inauguration has been slower.There has already been some turnover withMATT DANNENBERG, a senior associate director at PPO, leaving to become a deputy chief of staff at the energy department’s office of energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Political appointee hiring—the administration says they have hired 1,865 political appointees so far—slowed in part because PPO pivoted its attention to Senate-confirmed positions.slowed in part because PPO pivoted its attention to Senate-confirmed positions. Even so,

many high profile Senate-confirmed roleslike solicitor general and ambassadorships still do not have nominees.White House officials defended the pace of nominations and noted that PPO’s job has become more complicated in the social media age. “The social media accounts have made the vetting jobs much more time consuming,” said one senior transition official who is now in the White House.

PPO’s vetting team of about three dozen people is tasked with going over someone’s entire history of Tweets, TikToks, Instagram posts, and Venmo transactions in addition to the normal vetting of things like tax returns, a PPO official said. There are tools for sorting through it all but the official noted that the screening involves a good deal of, well, scrolling.

The White House also noted that the transition team had about 250 people dedicated to personnel with the help of 200 volunteers assisting in the interview process while the current team is just around 80 people.“If I can have the 250 people we had in transition, I would,” said a PPO official. “I don't think that's actually doable and feasible. And I think every office of the White House has a legitimate claim to wanting more people.”

And what is their message to people upset with the office? “Please be patient with us,” the official said.Do you work in the Biden administration? Are you in touch with the White House? Are you ALEXA KEITH?We want to hear from you — and we’ll keep you anonymous:

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