During last fall’s government shutdown, President Obama called Harry Reid to tell him that he suspected Reid’s Chief of Staff David Krone of leaking to the news media, and requested that he stay away from future meetings.
To Mr. Obama’s surprise, Mr. Krone was listening in on the call. Suddenly, the aide piped up and made it clear to the president that he did not appreciate the accusation.
Since then, according to a NY Times report, the White House has banned all congressional staff from White House meetings to prevent information form being leaked to the press. “We know that that’s because of me, and I don’t really care — that’s fine,” Krone told The Times.
Administration and congressional officials have argued that the transgressions of Mr. Krone — publicly challenging the president, betraying the Oval Office code of silence and acting more like a senator than a staff member to one — have damaged Democratic unity at a time when the party can least afford it, as its numbers in Congress dwindle and the president sorely needs discipline in his ranks to advance what is left of his agenda.
It all exploded this month when Mr. Krone, 48, astonished even some veteran Capitol Hill staff members by speaking on the record in a highly critical way about private conversations with Mr. Obama.
Mr. Krone said he was simply protecting Mr. Reid. A few days before the midterm elections, he said, he was hearing from reporters that the White House was blaming the legislative strategy devised by him and Mr. Reid for the party’s lousy electoral prospects. “I’m going to go meet with these reporters,” Mr. Krone recalled telling Mr. Reid. “And he’s, like, ‘O.K.’ ” Mr. Krone then debriefed reporters for The Washington Post about an Oval Office meeting in which Mr. Reid pleaded in vain with Mr. Obama to do more to help endangered Democrats, suggesting that the president was to blame for the party’s disastrous showing. The article, which was published the day after the election, landed like an atom bomb on official Washington.
Reid on the other hand doesn’t care what other people think. He sees Krone as someone who is fiercely loyal and who will protect his boss at all costs.
[Reid] said he did not ask Mr. Krone to hammer the president for him, but also did not regret his doing so. “He didn’t make it up, you know,” he said in an interview. Asked if he worried that the escalation had damaged the ability of Senate Democrats to work with the administration, Mr. Reid raised his soft voice. “They should just get over it,” he said. “I have a good relationship with the president. This is all staff driven. Get a life. Forget about this.”
He has apparently already forgotten Mr. Obama’s unusual request to keep Mr. Krone out of meetings.
“I don’t remember anything about that,” Mr. Reid said in his chandeliered office on Nov. 13, a few hours after being re-elected leader of the Senate Democrats. “Do you?” he asked, turning to Mr. Krone, who was seated beside him in the “leader’s chair.”
“Umm,” Mr. Krone, who is rarely at a loss for words, said through a frozen smile. A few minutes later, Mr. Krone, dressed impeccably in one of his bespoke suits, walked a reporter out of the office, and, referring to the president’s call, jocularly exclaimed, “I can’t believe that you know that story.”
As much as Krone has created enemies in the White House, and both parties his job is very safe. He is too close to his boss.
Reid fought back tears as he recalled the time he visited his wife, who had been injured in a car accident, and saw Mr. Krone at her hospital bedside. “David is someone I can say, and it doesn’t affect my manhood at all,” Mr. Reid said, “I love David Krone.”