White House denies suggestions chief of staff is being demoted

Senior White House officials on Tuesday dismissed the idea that Chief of Staff Bill Daley has been demoted.

Daley is giving up the handling of day-to-day duties to White House adviser Pete Rouse, a confidant of President Obama and a veteran of his Senate office who declined an offer last year to become chief of staff.

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Rouse is also a beloved figure for White House staff who served as acting chief of staff after Rahm Emanuel resigned from the position to run for mayor of Chicago. 

White House press secretary Jay Carney insisted Daley would retain all of his authority under the new arrangement, and said the move had been in the works for weeks. 

Briefing reporters on Air Force One during a Tuesday trip to Philadelphia, Carney said “a little bit more is being made of this than in fact is happening.”

“It’s less about transferring duties than it is about adding responsibilities without subtracting any from anybody else,” Carney said. “It’s about making the White House as effective and efficient as possible.”

Administration officials also pushed back at the idea of friction between staff and Daley, saying the chief enjoys good relationships both inside and outside the White House, despite reports and speculation to the contrary.

Daley arrived at the White House after a disastrous midterm election that saw Democrats lose control of the House.

The former Clinton administration official and Boeing board member was ostensibly brought in to soothe tensions between the White House and the business community and forge compromises as Obama sought to work with the new Republican majority. 

The tone at the White House, however, shifted dramatically after the summer’s debt-ceiling fight, and the administration went squarely on offense against Republicans. 

In recent weeks, Daley has raised eyebrows with remarks he has made. In a recent interview with Politico’s Roger Simon, the chief of staff placed blame on Democrats as well as Republicans for impeding Obama’s policies.

“On the domestic side, both Democrats and Republicans have really made it very difficult for the president to be anything like a chief executive,” Daley said in the interview. “This has led to a kind of frustration.”

At the time, the White House backed Daley’s remarks, saying he was referring to the modern relationship between Congress and the White House as a whole. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who reportedly had complained about Daley, on Tuesday said it was “none of my business, frankly, what the White House does with their inner staff.”

Carney said Daley told staff Monday that he “asked [Rouse] to take on these additional responsibilities to help us function better.” 

“But it’s mostly about internal communication, making sure that everybody has the information they need so we can serve the president as effectively as possible,” Carney said.

He did not offer specifics as to what duties Daley would be handing off to Rouse.