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Top White House Aide Expected to Announce Departure on Friday


President Barack Obama walks with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel as they prepare to board his helicopter on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, 4 Aug 2010 (file photo)

President Barack Obama walks with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel as they prepare to board his helicopter on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, 4 Aug 2010 (file photo)

A top aide to U.S. President Barack Obama, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, is expected to announce on Friday that he is stepping down. Emanuel is believed to be planning to run for mayor of his home city, Chicago.

White House officials have not confirmed or denied recent media reports that Emanuel is leaving. But White House spokesman Robert Gibbs responded to numerous questions at Thursday's press briefing that President Obama will make an announcement on Friday.

"I have got no personnel announcements today. But I will say that the president will have a personnel announcement tomorrow, at 11:05 a.m. ET from the East Room," said Gibbs.

Gibbs also declined to confirm or deny that senior White House adviser Pete Rouse will replace Emanuel, as many reports have predicted. But he said there will be two personnel announcements, and he praised Rouse as having enormous trust from the president.

The White House chief of staff is not a member of the president's Cabinet, but it is widely considered one of the most powerful positions in Washington. The chief of staff usually helps the president set his agenda, manages the president's schedule and often decides who has access to the president.

Gibbs said Emanuel has been a trusted adviser since the Obama presidency began. "The president starts his day with a meeting with Rahm and ends it with a meeting with Rahm," he said.

Gibbs said Emanuel has been instrumental in helping Mr. Obama advance his goals.

"There is not an important thing that has happened in this administration, that we have been able to accomplish for the American people, that has not involved, heavily, his signature," he said.

Rahm Emanuel would join several Obama advisers to announce their departure in recent months. Two economic advisers - Peter Orszag and Christina Romer - have left the White House. A third, Larry Summers, has said he will step down.

Sources close to Emanuel say he will be stepping down as White House chief of staff to run for mayor of Chicago.

Emanuel would join a crowded field of Democratic Party contenders for mayor. The candidates hope to replace Richard M. Daley, who has led America's third-largest city for 21 years.

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