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Hillary Clinton's 2016 timeline finally comes into focus

After delays, Clinton appears set for a late March launch window.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton waves as she is introduced at an event in Boston, Mass., Dec. 4, 2014. (Photo by Elise Amendola/AP)
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton waves as she is introduced at an event in Boston, Mass., Dec. 4, 2014.

Hillary Clinton's delayed 2016 timeline is finally coming into focus.

John Podesta, who is expected to serve as Clinton’s campaign chairman or in another senior role, said Wednesday that he plans to leave the Obama White House next month, ahead of a Clinton announcement expected in the late Spring.

“I'm probably going to leave in early February,” Podesta told Reuters. "If she decides to run, I told her I'd do anything I can to help her.”

While some in Clinton’s orbit pushed for her to get into the race early, she has opted for a slower time frame, scheduling non-political paid speeches as late as March 19.

Democratic insiders increasingly point to early April as the most likely launch window, which would allow her to avoid filing a campaign finance report to the Federal Election Commission for the first quarter of the year. Easter falls on April 5 this year, so the week after appears likely.

Nothing is confirmed, Clinton insiders stress, and she could still decide not to run, though that appears increasingly unlikely.

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Podesta’s departure has been broadly telegraphed, but it comes at a time of increasing action under the surface among potential Clinton aides. On Friday, Marlon Marshall, who worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and would likely work on another, announced that he, too, was leaving the White House.

Marshall is a longtime friend and compatriot of Robby Mook, who managed Clinton friend Terry MCauliffe’s 2013 Virginia gubernatorial campaign and is said to be among Clinton’s first choices to be campaign manager. Guy Cecil, the outgoing executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, recently pulled himself out of contention for the top job on the campaign. 

On Wednesday, Politico confirmed that Mook would play a senior role on a Clinton campaign, which will also include Obama pollster Joel Benenson. That’s a potentially major change from her controversial 2008 pollster, Mark Penn.

The quiet personnel moves come even at a time when Clinton’s public schedule remains conspicuously empty. She has only two public appearances coming up this month, both in Canada. February and March are equally quiet for the former secretary of state thus far.

A Clinton spokesperson did not return msnbc's request for comment.

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Podesta served as Bill Clinton’s last White House Chief of Staff and joined the Obama administration as counselor in late 2013. Podesta also founded the Center for American Progress and has been credited with helping Obama make the most out of his second term, especially advocating for the aggressive use of executive actions to advance the president's agenda in the face of a recalcitrant Congress.

The White House would like to keep Podesta around even longer, sources say, but he long ago agreed to stay with Obama only through the upcoming State of the Union Address.

Podesta also told Reuters that while he’s “sure” Clinton will differ from Obama on certain issues, Obama won't mind. “The president understands that, I think, expects that,” Podesta said.