A rather key and prominent member of President Joe Biden’s team is set to depart the White House in a matter of weeks and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the White House used that as an opportunity to both highlight its quest for diversity and to take a shot at former President Donald Trump, the Conservative Brief reported.
That would be White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield, who will resign by the end of the month, and who will be replaced by veteran communications staffer Ben LaBolt.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, in sharing that news with reporters, focused on the fact that LaBolt would be the first openly gay communications director at the White House and also highlighted how Bedingfield had embraced a nickname derived from an alleged quote about Biden’s 2020 campaign team from then-President Trump.
Bedingfield out, LaBolt in
The White House announced on Friday that “Kate Bedingfield, who has served as White House Communications Director since President Biden’s inauguration, will leave the White House at the end of February and will be replaced as White House Communications Director by Ben LaBolt.”
The statement noted how Bedingfield had first started working for then-Vice President Biden as his communications director in 2015 and then served as deputy campaign manager for Biden’s 2020 effort before settling in as head of his communications team in the White House once he fully assumed office.
As for LaBolt, who also worked with Biden during the Obama administration, he was credited with helping get Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmed and for providing advice on personnel appointments and nominations during the transition period between the Trump and Biden administrations.
“Since my time as Vice President, Kate has been a loyal and trusted adviser, through thick and thin,” Biden said in the statement. “She was a critical strategic voice from the very first day of my presidential campaign in 2019 and has been a key part of advancing my agenda in the White House.”
“Ben has big shoes to fill. I look forward to welcoming him back as a first-rate communicator who’s shown his commitment to public service again and again, and who has a cutting-edge understanding of how Americans consume information,” he added of LaBolt. “I saw him fight for Justice Jackson, and he put his all into helping us make history confirming our cabinet and subcabinet nominees. I’m proud to have him rejoin this team.”
Bedingfield the “captain of the Team of Killers”
During Friday’s press briefing, White House press secretary Jean-Pierre lamented how “bittersweet” it was to announce the sad news of the impending resignation of Bedingfield paired with her joy in regard to LaBolt being her replacement, both of whom she considered to be dear friends.
With regard to Bedingfield, Jean-Pierre said, “I understand that after a certain previous occupant of this White House, whose name will be nameless, but — as you know who this person is — he got angry and yelled and said, quote, ‘Biden has a team of killers. All I’ve got — all I’ve got is a defense,'” in reference to an alleged quote from then-President Trump in a June 2020 New York Times article.
“Okay, that was in the campaign. That was — the campaign communications team started calling Kate and the captain — the captain of the Team [of] Killers,” she added. “That doesn’t surprise me at all because if there’s one thing Kate is, is she is a leader.”
As for LaBolt, Jean-Pierre noted her personal experience with him over the years and said, “I also knew — I also know that Ben is making history — as you know, we believe, here in the Biden-Haris White House, that representation matters. He will be the first openly gay Communications Director, which is very, very important indeed.”
Bedingfield talked out of resigning last year
Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first time that the White House has announced Bedingfield’s imminent resignation, as ABC News reported in July 2022 that the communications director had planned to leave that job but had been talked into staying longer by President Biden himself and White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain.
In sharing her change of plans with staffers at that time, Bedingfield said that she had realized that “I’m not done here and there is so much more good work to do,” and that the remaining work was “too important and too energizing” to leave unfinished while she still had “a lot of gas left in the tank.”