“It’s wild,” said one senior Democrat, who is closely in touch with the White House, adding that they simply didn’t see the news coming.
According to a source familiar with the situation, Bedingfield was initially supposed to have her last day be last Friday. But that got extended by a week after President Joe Biden tested positive for Covid-19.
Bedingfield acknowledged regretting her initial decision to leave.
“A massive thank you to everyone (elke. one.) who endured listening to me wax on about how I regretted my decision to leave. There’s so much more to do and I’m so proud and grateful to be part of this team. Onward!,” Bedingfield wrote on Twitter.
Bedingfield’s decision to extend her time at the White House comes as the administration continues to contend with a number of policy challenges, insluitend inflasie, abortion rights and the ongoing war in Ukraine. And as the midterm elections near, the White House’s messaging apparatus has at times struggled to break through.
Democratic elected officials and even some of Biden’s own White House aides told CNN this month that they wish he was being more forceful in calling out Republicans.
And in the briefing room, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has spent the summer attempting to establish herself in a new role amid the turnover that’s expected in a West Wing press shop more than a year into the President’s term.
The summer has seen shifts in some of the White House messaging strategy. Jean-Pierre has leaned heavily on other administration officials to co-brief the press. She briefed reporters 12 times this month, but only twice has she delivered a press briefing without another administration official by her side.
Bedingfield’s planned departure was announced in early July, a decision she had been weighing for a number of weeks.
She’s had a longstanding working relationship with the President and held several political roles, working in media roles within the Obama White House and later becoming a key figure in Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign as a deputy campaign manager and communications director.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.