The Biden-Harris Administration has lost two staffers who had reportedly proven vital to Biden’s efforts to get elected.
Trey Baker, Biden’s senior White House adviser for public engagement that “helped lead efforts to draw black voters,” according to Bloomberg, is leaving for the public sector, and Stephen Goepfert his Special Assistant and Personal Aide is departing for a Transportation Department posting, Fox News reported.
Goepfert officially departs the White House on Friday, and Baker is set to leave on the following Monday.
Goepfert has been a consistent presence at Biden’s side, assisting him by prepping podiums and speech notes and closely assisting the aging Democrat since the beginning of his term in office.
Typically, Goepfert as Biden’s bodyman was the only aide present to set up Zoom calls and other events for him, particularly during the COVID-19 lockdown when access to the 79-year-old was strictly limited. Goepfert was also the first openly gay man to hold the role, which may have played into his selection. As Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre noted, “Representation matters, and that’s so important to [Biden],” The Independent reported.
“From the campaign to the White House, Stephen Goepfert has been by my side,” Biden said in a statement, according to Fox News.
“In moments big, small and extraordinary, he’s been a trusted and loyal confidant who everyone counts on and who always delivers.”
“Jill and I will miss Stephen, but we’re proud that he will continue to serve the American people in his new role in the Biden-Harris administration as he continues his career in public service,” he continued.
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Baker has served the function of bridging the gap between the civil rights activist base of black Democrats and an administration that has a less than spotless record with the activist community. Black Lives Matter leaders accused Biden of ignoring them in 2020, as reported by Fox News. Black Lives Matter Global Network wrote in an email to supporters, “For the newly elected administration (that ran on promises of racial justice) to ignore our ongoing request to meet with them and refuse us a seat at the table is demeaning to our movement.”
MSNBC Host Al Sharpton explained to Bloomberg in a phone interview that Barker “had to handle some hot potatoes,” referring to the Black Lives Matter riots that occurred during the 2020 Presidential election.
Today, @Trey_Baker joined @power88vegas‘ “Like It Is” radio show and discussed @JoeBiden’s progressive accomplishments: “Progressiveness is about getting things done and Joe Biden has shown an ability to get things done throughout his career and his history.” pic.twitter.com/HzxYtGTRN2
— Joe for Nevada (@JoeForNV) January 25, 2020
“Trey was the real connection between civil-rights leadership, the White House and the campaign,” Sharpton explained.
He went on to emphasize that Baker served as a communications conduit between the Biden White House and the black community during later moments of increased tension, such as the trials of Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murdering George Floyd, as well as the McMichael trial for the murder of Ahmed Arbery.
Sharpton continued, “Many of us, our policies were a lot more progressive than” Biden’s were, according to the outlet.
“He’s probably got the best Rolodex in the country when it comes to black movers and shakers,” Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi told Bloomberg in a telephone interview.
“He’s a go-to guy for a lot of issues for black people and Democrats in this country.” Thompson added.
Baker began his political career as an intern for Thompson.
With Biden’s approval rating among black voters in decline, dropping eight points from 78 percent to 70, the loss of Baker could be painful for him.
While Goepfert will be replaced by current White House receptionist Jacob Spreyer, according to Fox News, Baker will not be so easily replaced as he takes on a partner role with the law firm Barnes & Thornburg.