Rahm Emanuel expected to announce resignation tomorrow

By Anne E. Kornblut and Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, September 30, 2010; 5:53 PM

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel will announce his resignation Friday and leave office the same day, multiple administration officials said, continuing a series of key staffing changes ahead of November's midterm elections.

Pete Rouse, a senior adviser who was President Obama's chief of staff in the Senate, is expected to fill the role on an interim basis, although several officials said he could windup in the job permanently.

Obama will make two "personnel announcements" in the East Room at 11:05 a.m. Friday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday. The president is expected to announce the Emanuel and Rouse moves at the same time, to maintain as much continuity as possible.

Emanuel has been setting the stage for his departure for weeks, since the moment outgoing Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (D) said he would not run for reelection. The question of whether and when Emanuel would leave has been a sizable distraction, people who work with the White House said, as other senior officials try to assess what the vacancy will mean and what other moves will be set in motion.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who became close to Emanuel during his House service, nodded when asked whether she would endorse his mayoral bid.

"He can do anything he puts his mind to and we all wish him much success," she said.

Longtime lawmakers such as Pelosi know Rouse almost as well as they know Emanuel, and Pelosi said she approved of the pick. "Pete Rouse certainly has the respect of those in Congress who know his service to our country well," she said. "If that's the president's choice, then we salute him."

Rouse, a longtime former Senate employee, is a popular choice among the White House staff. Already intimately involved in most major internal decisions, he is considered a problem-solver, often wrestling with the president's most difficult problems.

He is so well known in the Senate - where for many years he was a senior aide to then-Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) - that he was often referred to as the 101st senator. Yet he has a much lower public profile than Emanuel.

With the elevation of Rouse, Obama is shifting from a master of the House to a creature of the Senate. Emanuel understands the rhythms of the House, the power of its parliamentary rules and the political limits of every one of its members - many of whom he helped to get elected.

Rouse possesses a similar knowledge of the Senate, a murkier place - teeming with ambition, insecurities and big egos - that often frustrated Emanuel. Although he rose to power with Daschle, Rouse has a warm friendship with Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and dines regularly with Reid and his wife, Landra.

kornbluta@washpost.com chris.cillizza@washpost.com

Staff writer Shailagh Murray contributed to this report.

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