“Nobody knows what to believe,” said one former official who worked with Mr Biden. “They don’t know, is this a new policy? Or is it just Joe being Joe and overstating something?
“There’s confusion. Ultimately, it leads to a situation where staffers are not 100 per cent sure he meant what he said, or if he said something that just wasn’t right.”
The White House officially denies there is a low morale, calling the suggestion “divorced from reality.”
It points out that working there is extremely intense and relatively poorly paid compared to other parts of government and the private sector, and that turnover ahead of mid-term elections is not unusual.
Behind the scenes, Mr Biden is reliant on a small kitchen cabinet of veteran advisers – including Ron Klain, his chief of staff, said to be the main voice in the room after the president’s.
Other longtime “Biden whisperers” are Mike Donilon, his senior adviser, Steve Ricchetti, counselor to the president, and Bruce Reed, his deputy chief of staff.
Despite Mr Biden’s pledge to promote diversity, all four are white men aged in their 60s.
One former Biden staffer said: “He’s never been good on developing a team of younger talent outside his immediate inner circle. He doesn’t really have a strong ideology that young staffers can share.
“It’s only been 18 months but you can see how the morale fading stems from how the inner circle operates.”
It has not been uncommon in recent weeks for Karine Jean-Pierre, the new White House press secretary, to start daily briefings with a “thank you” to officials who are leaving.