December 4, 2020


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Biden Names White House Counsel as New Staff Starts Taking Shape

(Bloomberg) — President-elect Joe Biden began rounding out his White House staff on Tuesday with the announcement of his White House counsel and several senior advisers, drawing from his campaign roster to fill key West Wing posts.


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The White House counsel will be Dana Remus, who previously served as the campaign’s chief counsel and was also a deputy White House counsel for ethics under President Barack Obama.

Jen O’Malley Dillon, Steve Ricchetti and Mike Donilon, all senior aides on Biden’s campaign, are joining the White House staff, as is Louisiana Representative Cedric Richmond, who will giving up his seat for a role on Biden’s team.

O’Malley Dillon, Biden’s campaign manager, will be a deputy chief of staff and Ricchetti, Biden’s campaign chairman, will be counselor to the president. Donilon will be a senior adviser, as will Richmond, who will also have the title of director of the Office of Public Engagement. Bloomberg News first reported Richmond and Ricchetti’s roles on Monday.

Annie Thomasini, Biden’s traveling chief of staff during the campaign, will be director of Oval Office Operations and Julie Chavez Rodriguez, former Biden deputy campaign manager and top aide on Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign, will be director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, which leads the executive branch’s outreach to state and local governments.

Biden has said he planned to name key White House aides before turning to cabinet jobs that require Senate confirmation.

Richmond will leave his seat in the House of Representatives just after he was elected to his sixth term. He has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday. A national co-chair of Biden’s campaign, Richmond will be one of the highest-ranking Black aides in the White House.

The Office of Public Engagement in the Obama administration was run by Valerie Jarrett, a top aide, and it coordinated events and communications involving the general public.

O’Malley Dillon is the first woman to run a successful Democratic presidential campaign and is credited with growing Biden’s small primary campaign into a general election operation just as the coronavirus pandemic hit the country.

Ricchetti was Biden’s vice presidential chief of staff at the end of the Obama presidency and helped him prepare for a potential 2016 presidential run and then again for his 2020 campaign.

Biden had to fight to bring Ricchetti into the Obama White House because his then-recent history as a registered lobbyist ran afoul of the administration’s ethics rules. Ricchetti hasn’t been a registered lobbyist for more than a decade, but progressive groups pointed to that history to campaign against his potential appointment as White House chief of staff.

Cedric Richmond wearing a suit and tie: House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi And House Dems Hold News Conference On Election Security

© Getty Images
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi And House Dems Hold News Conference On Election Security

Cedric Richmond

Photographer: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Richmond is also a co-chair of the Biden-Harris transition team, and is close to South Carolina Representative Jim Clyburn, whose late February endorsement of Biden helped revive the then-struggling candidate’s campaign. He was one of Biden’s earliest backers and most visible surrogates during the campaign, often appearing on television to defend Biden at low points of his campaign.

Biden’s inner circle is comprised largely of White men, many of whom have worked with him for decades. Ron Klain, who Biden named as chief of staff last week, will likely be working in the White House with Ted Kaufman, Jeff Zients, Bruce Reed and Jake Sullivan, in addition to the hires announced Tuesday, according to several people familiar with the transition.

Read More: Biden Aims for Diverse Cabinet as Insiders Mostly Male and White

Richmond will likely be one of the few sitting members of Congress to join the administration, given the Democrats’ narrow majority in the House and slim minority in the Senate, and so he may be called on to play a role in negotiations with Congress.

“I think Vice President Biden will be a different kind of president,” Richmond said Sunday on CBS. “I think he’s going to be able to bring House members from the Republican side, House members, Senate Republicans together on legislation. He served with many of them.”

Richmond represents a safe Democratic district, so it’s unlikely the House will lose another Democratic seat after several incumbents were defeated by Republicans in this month’s election. A number of Democrats are already considering running for Richmond’s seat, including Karen Carter Peterson, a state senator and vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Cleo Fields, a state senator, and Natalie Robottom, former president of St. John the Baptist Parish.

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