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Koehler Quits to Give Baker 'His Own Team'

March 09, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — After just one week on the job, White House communications chief John O. Koehler resigned today, bowing to a request from newly named White House Chief of Staff Howard H. Baker Jr.

Koehler announced his departure during a visit to the White House briefing room. "A new general manager of an important enterprise must be totally comfortable with his staff," Koehler said. "In this Administration, the new general manager is Sen. Howard Baker."

Koehler said he talked with Baker about his job Friday and told President Reagan today that he was resigning. He said he told Reagan "that I recognize and endorse Sen. Baker's need to have his own team for a successful execution of his vital mission."

Not 'Jerked Around'

Responding to a question about his short tenure, Koehler said, "I don't feel like I've been jerked around." He said he would resume work as a private consultant.

After Koehler's appointment was announced, it was disclosed that as a 10-year-old boy in his native Germany he had belonged to a Nazi youth group for six months.

Koehler confirmed the report, saying the government investigators were aware of the connection. White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said the White House had been unaware of the youth group membership, however.

Today, Koehler said the incident played no role in his leaving.

There was no immediate announcement of a successor. Fitzwater said that Baker was exploring organizational changes and that the job might be changed.

Koehler was hired in the final days of Donald T. Regan's tenure as chief of staff. Koehler, who is a former foreign correspondent and executive of the Associated Press, succeeded Patrick J. Buchanan.

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