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Josh Raffel (R) with Jared Kushner (C) in New York City in 2013. Photo: Paul Bruinooge / Patrick McMullan / Getty Images

Senior communications official Josh Raffel is leaving the White House, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Raffel, a former Hollywood PR executive, was originally brought in early last year to run communications for the Office of American Innovation, but quickly became the point man internally for Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Even though Raffel was a Democrat and Hillary Clinton supporter, White House staff (including some Trump originals) told me they were surprised how quickly they grew to like and trust him.

One White House official told me that when there’s a crisis “we call Josh.” The official said he didn’t envy Raffel because “he is always handling the worst stories.”

In the fall of 2017, Raffel was quietly promoted to deputy communications director and began taking a bigger role internally. Raffel oversaw communications for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, worked with Gary Cohn on a number of NEC issues, including tax reform, and also formed a close relationship with Michael Anton at the National Security Council.

Raffel was known to have high-level relationships at major print publications and the TV networks.

I’m told Raffel has been telling friends and colleagues including Jared and Ivanka over the past two months of his plans. He has told them he has to deal with family obligations back in New York and will return to the private sector.

Senior officials Jason Greenblatt, Ivanka Trump and Gary Cohn all sent quotes about Raffel for this story.

  • Greenblatt: “Josh was an integral part of our peace team and became a close friend. He guided all of us through the process of communicating serious and complex issues that impact people across the world.”
  • Ivanka: “Josh is honest, passionate and thoughtful. Whether it was offering strategic guidance on the communications for tax reform or a foreign trip, Josh's guidance was invaluable. The White House won’t be the same without him.”
  • Cohn: “Josh has been a trusted partner as we worked to enact the President’s economic agenda and passed historic tax reform. He is focused and thoughtful in our day-to-day operations and in driving a policy roll-out, and he will be missed.”

I’m told Raffel’s final day will be sometime over the next two months.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

WHO: Not yet known whether Omicron leads to more severe disease

Photo illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Sunday said that it is not yet clear whether the newly discovered Omicron variant is more transmissible than other strains of the COVID-19 virus.

Why it matters: The agency's statement comes as the variant, discovered in South Africa, has already been detected in European and Asian countries.

7 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems fear supply-chain blame

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As supply-chain kinks drive up prices and disrupt holiday shopping, Democrats are scrambling to show action and deflect blame.

Why it matters: With their party controlling both the White House and Capitol, vulnerable Democrats worry supply-chain snafus will hurt them in next year's midterms.