Biden fills top White House team with campaign veterans

Biden (AP)
17:16pm, Tue 17 Nov 2020
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President-elect Joe Biden has announced several top White House staff positions, drawing from the senior ranks of his campaign and some of his closest confidants.

Former campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon will serve as deputy chief of staff, while campaign co-chair Cedric Richmond and campaign adviser Steve Ricchetti will play senior roles in the new administration.

Mr Richmond will leave his congressional seat as Louisiana Representative to fill the White House role.

Kamala Harris (AP)

The president-elect also announced that Mike Donilon, a longtime confidant, will serve as a senior advisor and Dana Remus, the campaign’s current general counsel, will be counsel to the president.

Julie Chavez Rodriguez, one of Mr Biden’s deputy campaign managers, will serve as director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Annie Tomasini, who is currently his travelling chief of staff, will serve as the director of Oval Office operations.

Anthony Bernal will serve as a senior adviser to Jill Biden, after he was her chief of staff on the campaign. Former US ambassador to Uruguay Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon will be her chief of staff.

The hires represent an initial wave of new White House aides as Mr Biden builds out an administration to execute his governing vision. The Democrat will be inaugurated on January 20 next year.

Late last week, Mr Biden tapped former senior campaign adviser Ron Klain to serve as his chief of staff.

Joe and Jill Biden (AP)

The latest round reflects the president-elect’s stated commitment to diversity in his staff — the team includes four people of colour and five women.

“America faces great challenges, and they bring diverse perspectives and a shared commitment to tackling these challenges and emerging on the other side a stronger, more united nation,” he said in a statement.

Ms O’Malley Dillon, 44, was the first woman to manage a successful Democratic presidential campaign. She is a veteran political operative who worked on both of Barack Obama’s White House bids.

Ms Rodriguez, granddaughter of the late farmworker union leader Cesar Chavez, was national political director on Kamala Harris’s 2016 presidential team before joining the Biden campaign. She also served in the Obama administration.

Mr Richmond, a 47-year-old African American, will be a senior adviser to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. He’s expected to engage with Congress and focus on the Black community and other minority groups.

Election 2020 Biden (AP)

A former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Mr Richmond was among Mr Biden’s earliest high-profile supporters and served as his campaign co-chair. Mr Richmond has scheduled a news conference on Tuesday in which he is expected to announce that he’s leaving his congressional seat.

Mr Richetti, Mr Donilon, Ms Tomasini and Mr Bernal all have longstanding relationships with the Biden family. Mr Ricchetti was Mr Biden’s chief of staff during Mr Obama’s second term, while Mr Donilon has advised him in various roles since 1981.

Ms Tomasini served in communications roles for Mr Biden when he was still a senator and Mr Bernal has worked for Mrs Biden in various roles since the 2008 presidential campaign.

Less clear is the shape of Mr Biden’s Cabinet, which will be subject to Senate confirmation. Since winning the election earlier this month, the president-elect has been hunkered down with vice president-elect Kamala Harris near his home in Delaware, preparing the new administration.

Mr Biden will begin rolling out his higher-profile Cabinet picks in the coming weeks.

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