Biden appoints team of longtime aides to key White House posts


Joe Biden is filling his White House with longtime aides who served in key roles in his campaign and, in some cases, worked alongside the president-elect during the Obama administration.

The Biden transition team announced a series of staff moves Tuesday, including that adviser and confidant Mike Donilon will move to the White House as senior adviser to the president. Donilon drove much of the messaging on the campaign and had served as counselor to Biden when he was vice president.

The other appointments are:

• Steve Ricchetti, another Biden confidant, will assume the role of counselor of the president.

Ricchetti was under consideration for chief of staff, a position that ultimately went to Ron Klain. His past lobbying career during the 1990s and early 2000’s may have sunk his chances for that job, and his appointment as counselor is already drawing blowback from progressive groups. Advocates pushing Biden to implement a public health care option and direct government negotiation of drug prices have raised particular concerns about his background working and lobbying for health insurance, hospital and pharmaceutical companies.

• Former campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon will become deputy chief of staff.

O’Malley Dillon joins the White House after long expressing to others that she had no plans to work in the administration, should Biden win the election. She took the reins as Biden’s campaign manager as the race headed into the general election, after serving as former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s campaign manager in the 2020 presidential primary and deputy campaign manager for President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.

• Dana Remus, who served as general counsel to the Biden campaign, will serve as counsel to the president.

While it’s unlikely to endear her to liberals, Remus’ experience clerking for conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito could prove valuable to the Biden administration as it gears up for repeated clashes with the Court’s 6-3 conservative majority in the years ahead. Alito recently gave a speech to the Federalist Society airing grievances with the Court’s decisions on same-sex marriage, abortion, and public health restrictions enacted during the pandemic, signaling an appetite to revisit those precedents and roll them back now that President Trump’s three picks have been confirmed to the bench.

• Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) will take on the role of senior adviser to the president and act as director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

Richmond, a national co-chair to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, will focus on outreach with grassroots organizations, public interest groups and advocacy groups, including the NAACP. He’s also expected to serve as a liaison with the business community and climate change activists. Richmond’s hiring was lauded by South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the most senior Black Democrat in the House and one of Biden’s key allies during the 2020 campaign: "I think everybody knows I’ve been pushing him for this administration forever," Clyburn said.

• Julie Chavez Rodriguez, who acted as deputy campaign manager on the Biden-Harris campaign, will serve as director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Rodríguez joined the Biden campaign as a senior adviser and its highest-ranking Latina in the spring, after serving in a senior capacity for Kamala Harris’s primary campaign for president. She was among Harris’s earliest hires after Harris won her Senate seat in California in 2016. The granddaughter of legendary civil rights and labor leader César Chávez, Rodríguez forged strong bonds with Obama and Biden advisers and aides earlier in her career as deputy director of political engagement in the White House.

• Julie Annie Tomasini, who was the Biden campaign’s traveling chief of staff, will take on the role of director of Oval Office Operations.

Tomasini followed Biden to the vice president’s office after working for his short-lived 2008 presidential campaign in Iowa.

• Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon will be chief of staff to Dr. Jill Biden.

POLITICO on Monday reported the appointments of Richmond, O’Malley Dillon and Ricchetti.

Chris Cadelago and Alice Miranda Ollstein contributed to this report.

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