As several longtime Obama administration aides start eyeing the exit door for their next job, one loyal staff member plans to hang on until the bitter end.
Valerie Jarrett, Obama senior adviser and close family friend, told The New York Times that she plans to stay on until Obama's last day, Jan. 20, 2017.
"Oh, my goodness, I intend to stay until the lights go off. Why would I miss a single second of this?" Jarrett told the Times
Recent exits from the Obama staff have left questions about exactly who will be left behind to turn the lights off.
So far, senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer, Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri, presidential counselor John Podesta, Ebola Czar Ron Klain, Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Alyssa Mastromonaco, White House deputy chief of staff for operations, either have left or are heading for the door, CNN and the Associated Press report
, with some, like Podesta, aiming for positions on the Hillary Clinton campaign team.
In the Times interview, Jarrett responded to statements by David Axelrod that Obama's former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, now Chicago's mayor, disliked Jarrett's influence over the Obamas, saying: "In a town where access is so important, initially it probably made people a little uncomfortable. I think that has faded. I just want to do my job, and part of my job for the president is to be his friend."
She took the opportunity to take swipes at the GOP leadership in Congress, telling the Times that she believes criticisms of Obama for not reaching out to Republicans were not warranted.
"They weren't interested in playing golf, and they weren't interested in being schmoozed, and they weren't interested in going up to Camp David. They weren't interested in going to state dinners. They just wanted to say no," she told the Times.
In a nod to the divisive relationship between the GOP Congress and the White House, she told the Times: "We would far prefer to have kept the Senate in Democratic hands, but we play the hand we're dealt. The president still has a robust agenda that involves Congress."
Jarrett said Obama had expected to have a better working relationship with GOP lawmakers, and added: "As a very junior state senator, the president was able to work with the other side of the aisle. What became clear when we came here is that there was not a willing spirit on the other side of the table."
Asked by the Times whether descriptions of her position as being the "Democratic Dick Cheney" are justified, Jarrett responded: "Please don't say that. Stop right there. The president listens to people who have interesting things to say. That could be the most junior person on the staff or it could be a senior adviser or it could be a person who whispers something to him across a rope line."
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