Biden to appoint campaign manager, congressional ally and close friend of key staff positions

Nov 17, 2020 Travel News

Biden to appoint campaign manager, congressional ally and close friend of key staff positions

WASHINGTON – President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will officially announce key members of his White House staff on Tuesday, appointing Representative Cedric L. Richmond of Louisiana to oversee public outreach and install Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, who has managed his presidential campaign, as deputy chief of staff, said a person familiar with the transition.

Mr Biden will also announce that Steve Ricchetti, a longtime confidant, will serve in the White House as an adviser to the president. All three will most likely have desks in the hallway of the Oval Office, making him one of the West Wing’s most important assistants.

Mr. Richmond will inherit a position formerly held by Valerie Jarrett in the Obama administration. Kellyanne Conway was President Trump’s advisor, the post Mr. Ricchetti will assume. And Ms O’Malley Dillon will likely oversee White House operations for Mr Biden.

A spokesperson for the transition declined to comment. A person familiar with transition planning said all three appointments will be announced along with other staff of the president-elect.

Decisions on cabinet secretaries remain weeks away, according to relatives of Mr Biden, who has spent several days over the past week in closed-door discussions with advisers over the challenge of winning confirmation fights if the Senate remains under Republican control next year.

In contrast, White House staff positions do not require confirmation from the Senate, leaving the president-elect a great deal of leeway in choosing his West Wing advisers.

The announcements come as Mr Biden moves swiftly to establish his government agenda and the team he will need to implement it once he takes office. The president-elect is under pressure to fill these jobs with people of diverse ethnic and ideological backgrounds, keeping the promises he made during his campaign.

But the appointments of Mr Richmond, Ms O’Malley Dillon and Mr Ricchetti – all staunch lieutenants of Mr Biden – suggest the importance he also attaches to surrounding himself with people whose boards he implicitly trusts.

Mr. Richmond, who served as national co-chair of Mr. Biden’s campaign and was an early supporter, was widely expected to join Biden’s White House.. He brings with him a deep relationship through Capitol Hill. Her new job was reported earlier by Bloomberg.

Mr. Richmond, a Democrat whose district includes most of New Orleans, has scheduled a press conference for Tuesday where he is expected to announce he is leaving Congress. In a brief phone call Monday night, he laughingly refused to confirm he was joining Mr Biden’s staff, but admitted he would discuss his “future” on Tuesday.

Mr. Richmond was formerly chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and he has a close relationship with Rep. James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, whose endorsement in February helped revive Mr. Biden’s campaign. Mr Richmond’s district is risk-free Democrat, and his departure from Congress is unlikely to cost the party another seat after an election where their majority has been weakened.

Mr. Richmond will likely assume broad responsibilities in his lead role and continue to interact with Congress, according to people familiar with the transition. Others said they expected him to be one of the most willing people to give the new president frank and candid advice behind closed doors.

Ms O’Malley Dillon, a campaign veteran of former President Barack Obama, has been credited with guiding Mr Biden’s presidential candidacy through the hardships of the coronavirus pandemic and the challenge of running against an unpredictable rival like Mr. Trump. His date was reported earlier by NBC News.

She took on the role of campaign manager in mid-March, as the severity of the coronavirus outbreak became clear to many Americans. Two days after she was appointed to the post, Biden’s campaign offices across the country closed. She learned to navigate the team’s factions remotely and turned a small primary operation into a general electoral organization.

Ms O’Malley Dillon’s team faced criticism and doubts over Mr Biden’s slight campaign imprint maintained in key battlefield states during the pandemic, and throughout the campaign, there have been tensions between some of Biden’s early assistants and those she brought in as she built the team.

But she was respected in the campaign to streamline and organize what had been a small, underfunded operation, and her expected appointment is a clear sign of the president-elect’s level of confidence.

Mr. Ricchetti is a close advisor and longtime lobbyist who has been with Mr. Biden for years. He lobbied for the pharmaceutical industry and served as Mr Biden’s chief of staff when he was vice president.

As one of Mr Biden’s most trusted advisers and a longtime member of his inner circle, Mr Ricchetti is expected to have a broad portfolio and a leadership role within the administration. During the campaign, he cultivated deep relationships across Capitol Hill and in the donor community, sometimes serving as a sort of campaign keeper for the Democratic heavyweights.

Mr Biden is likely to act quickly on other key White House jobs as well.

He still has to set up a communications team, including a press attaché, who will often be the public face of the administration. Among the possible candidates for the post is Symone Sanders, who was one of his best communications advisers during the campaign.

The president-elect will also need to choose a lawyer in the White House, a key post in an era of divided government, when members of the other party often engage in legal clashes with the president. Dana Remus, who worked in the council office during Mr. Obama’s tenure, was Mr. Biden’s chief campaign counsel.

And Mr. Biden will have to choose assistants to oversee national security, homeland security, and the economy in his White House. Announcements on some of these positions could also be made as early as Tuesday.

Pranshu Verma and Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting.