The departure of Ron Klain as President Joe Biden's chief of staff could see a top aide to the president who offered "damage control advice" to convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein gain even more influence in the White House, according to a Tuesday Politico report.
Klain, who plans to step down next month, has been hands-on as chief of staff in dealing with politics and legislative outreach, according to Politico. But White House sources told the outlet they expect Klain's successor, Jeff Zients, to cede responsibility over those matters to former Weinstein adviser Anita Dunn and other senior aides.
"Zients will likely defer to top Biden aides Anita Dunn, Jen O’Malley Dillon, Steve Ricchetti and others ... while he focuses on the West Wing’s operations and processes," Politico reported.
Dunn, who served as a communications director under the Obama administration, in 2017 helped disgraced Hollywood producer and Democratic megadonor Weinstein strategize ahead of the release of a New York Times report on accusations of sexual harassment against Weinstein. Dunn was not paid for her assistance.
After classified documents from Biden's time as vice president were discovered in his offices at the Penn Biden Center, Dunn reportedly urged the White House to keep information on the discovery from the public. Her husband, Bob Bauer, is Biden's top lawyer leading his legal strategy in the documents scandal.
Dunn, whom NBC News described as a "confidant whom [Biden] often turns to when his fortunes look bleak," is not the only Biden aide with a controversial record who could see their political power grow with Klain's departure.
Dillon, who founded a political advising firm linked to dark money groups and was presidential campaign manager for Biden and Beto O'Rourke, has advocated confiscating AR-15s and was accused by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D., Ill.) of making an "incredibly insulting" offense by referencing Vice President Kamala Harris's Asian heritage.
Ricchetti has faced scrutiny from ethics watchdogs due to his brother's lucrative position lobbying the White House. Before joining the Biden administration, he briefly served as managing director of the Penn Biden Center, where Biden's classified documents were discovered in November.