WH Chief of Staff Ron Klain Leaked News of Breyer's Retirement White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
By Peter Malbin | Tuesday, 01 February 2022 02:14 PM
White House chief of staff Ron Klain told a "limited number" of people that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer was retiring, shortly before the news was actually leaked publicly, Sen. Dick Durban, D-Ill., disclosed on Monday.
Durbin, the Senate Judiciary chair, told reporters that he got a "surprise" call from Klain last Wednesday morning telling him that Breyer was retiring but asking him to keep it private, The Daily Mail reported.
"That’s what confidential on Capitol Hill leads to, I guess," Durbin said.
"Never tell anything to Biden or Ron Klain," quipped Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney.
Before this happened, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens had called on Klain to resign as Biden's chief of staff. He said he should be replaced by someone like Tom Daschle, former Senate majority leader.
NBC News was among the first to break the story of Breyer's retiring on Wednesday last week, citing "people familiar" with the justice's thinking in its reporting.
But Breyer was months away from announcing the news himself, according to the Washington Examiner.
Breyer informed Biden of his decision to retire in a Jan. 27 letter. He will serve until the summer.
At 83, Breyer is the court's oldest member. Liberal activists have urged him to retire while Democrats hold both the White House and the Senate, which could change after the midterm elections in November, NBC reported.
Biden said he would appoint the first black female Supreme Court justice, with some Republicans accusing him of playing politics with his presidential duty of selecting judicial nominees.
Some of his top candidates reportedly include: D.C. Circuit Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson; District Judge J. Michelle Childs, a federal official in South Carolina; and Judge Leondra Kruger, an associate justice on California's Supreme Court.
Biden is scheduled to meet Durbin and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who both sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Supreme Court confirmation process.