Earlier today we reported that The Hill‘s Susan Crabtree is leaving her gig to pursue new opportunities with Talking Points Memo.  Now we’ve learned that Crabtree’s hire was one of the initial steps in a planned expansion of the site’s Washington presence. Though Crabtree will take over TPM’s White House beat, her responsibilities include building and mentoring a DC bureau that is planned to double in size by the end of the year, according to Yahoo’s Michael Calderone.

In a memo obtained by FishbowlDC, TPM editor and publisher Josh Marshall said:

“Susan will be a critical addition to our reporting team in DC.  And beyond that she will play a key role helping us to shape our coverage and build our team over the coming years. Susan will be taking over the White House beat for TPM.  But we’re envisioning that role as one that will more often than not be reported from Capitol Hill.  She definitely will not be a captive of the White House press room.”

The website’s DC office is currently home to only five of the 20 people employed by TPM but with sights set on DC, Crabtree and managing editor David Kurtz are being charged with the goal of hiring and training at least five more reporters be year’s end.

“We anticipate that 2011 will be a year of growth for TPM. We’ll be putting in place a bigger team but we’ll also be making adjustments to internal processes and procedures to eliminate what doesn’t work and to find new and better solutions to the challenges of covering the news in the way we do,” said Marshall in the memo announcing Crabtree to the news group.