Biden picks for senior White Home officers embody loyalists and rising Democratic stars

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is greeted by United States Congressman Cedric Richmond, D-LA, when he arrives in Columbus, Georgia on October 27, 2020.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – President-elect Joe Biden announced Tuesday its first list of senior White House officials, selecting a mix of longtime Biden loyalists and emerging Democratic stars.

The overall structure of the top staff is notable for the lack of known progressives, suggesting that Biden intends to oversee a more cautious, traditional west wing than some in the Democratic Party would have hoped.

Seasoned Biden advisor Mike Donilon has been named Senior Advisor to the President. Donilon was Biden's chief strategist during the campaign.

Jen O & # 39; Malley Dillon, who led Biden's victorious campaign, will serve as Deputy Chief of Staff of the White House. O & # 39; Malley Dillon is a rare Biden insider who hasn't worked with the Bidens in decades. In 2019, she led the failed presidential campaign of Biden's opponent, former Texas Rep. Beto O & # 39; Rourke.

After O & # 39; Malley Dillon joined the Biden campaign this spring, it went low-profile and focused almost entirely on recapturing the "blue wall" of Midwestern states that Trump turned around in 2016: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania . Biden won them all.

Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond will serve as senior adviser to the President and director of the White House Public Engagement Office. Richmond was a trusted advisor and highly visible replacement for Biden throughout the campaign.

Insiders have described Richmond's role as similar to that of former White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, who often acted as a sounding board for President Barack Obama.

Former Biden campaign chairman Steve Ricchetti will be senior counselor to the president, the Biden team said. Ricchetti is a career democratic political advisor who served as Biden's chief of staff during the Obama administration.

But it was Ricchetti's previous work as a health care lobbyist that sparked the wrath of progressives among the democratic primary race. They argued that Ricchetti helped develop health policies for Biden who were too kind to his former drugmaker customers, a list that includes Eli Lilly, Pfizer, and Novartis.

After his election, Biden came under pressure not to appoint Ricchetti as Chief of Staff of the White House. Last week, Biden announced that longtime aide Ron Klain would serve as chief of staff.

Dana Remus, a former White House deputy ethics attorney during the Obama administration, has been named president's attorney. Remus worked for the Obama Foundation and was most recently General Counsel of the Biden Campaign.

There, Remus gathered the team of lawyers who are currently fighting in several state courts against President Donald Trump's election campaign over voting procedures and ballot papers. This is part of Trump's final legal action to overturn the election results.

Remus' previous experience at the White House Ethics Bureau is likely to help make early decisions in the Biden administration about what kind of ethical barriers to put in place to avoid conflicts of interest between political representatives.

Biden himself is committed to upholding the highest ethical standards in his administration. However, the question of whether former lobbyists will be hired to work at agencies they once advocated for clients remains a complex and unsolved one for Biden.

Biden's director of interstate affairs will be Julie Chavez Rodriguez, a former adviser to elected Vice President Kamala Harris and the granddaughter of union leader Cesar Chavez. Rodriguez served as the traveling chief of staff to Harris during her failed presidential campaign in 2019 and accompanied Harris on a busy schedule of campaign travel.

2020 U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) arrives at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa on August 10, 2019.

Brian Snyder | Reuters

Prior to that, Rodriguez served as California State Director in Harris' Senate Office.

At the Biden White House, Rodriguez will oversee government outreach to state, regional, local, and tribal governments. After four years of limited interaction between the White House and Trump state and local governments, Biden has made providing financial aid to state and local governments a cornerstone of his plan to fight the coronavirus.

As a result, Rodriguez is likely to have a more visible role in the White House than her predecessor Douglas Hoelscher.

Annie Tomasini, a longtime member of Biden's inner circle and his traveling chief of staff of the campaign, will serve as director of the Oval Office operations. The details of this role have often changed depending on who is in office at any given time. What remains the same, however, is that it is a powerful gatekeeper position that has an impact on the president's daily activities.

When Trump took office in 2017, he named his longtime bodyguard, Keith Schiller, Director of Oval Office Operations. Schiller left the administration just eight months later, but shortly after leaving the White House, Schiller raised $ 15,000 a month from the Republican National Committee. As of August 2020, campaign financial records showed that the RNC paid Schiller over $ 500,000 for unspecified "security services".

The Biden-Harris transition team made two announcements Tuesday through First Lady Jill Biden's office.

Jill Biden's chief of staff will be Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon, a former ambassador to Uruguay during the Obama administration and a partner in the Winston & Strawn law firm.

Jill Biden's longtime advisor, Anthony Bernal, will be her senior advisor. Bernal first worked with Jill Biden during Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and later joined her White House staff. Most recently, Bernal was chief of staff at Jill Biden's campaign office.

When Joe Biden takes office in January, Jill Biden is expected to be the only first lady to keep her job as an English teacher at a community college in Northern Virginia.

"I am proud to announce more members of my senior team who will help us rebuild better than before," said Biden in a statement on Tuesday of the executive personnel decisions.

"America faces great challenges, and they bring different perspectives and a common commitment to address those challenges and, on the other hand, to develop a stronger, more united nation," he said.

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