Jeff Zients to be Biden’s next chief of staff

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President Biden will appoint Jeff Zients to be his next chief of staff, turning to a management consultant who oversaw the administration’s coronavirus response to replace Ron Klain, who is expected to leave in the coming weeks, according to four people familiar with. of the decision.

Zients left the White House in April after leading the administration’s response to the pandemic and spearheading the largest vaccination campaign in US history. He returned to the White House in the fall to help Klain prepare for post-midterm staff turnover — a project that was ultimately limited in scope as few senior staff left for administration. But, in recent weeks, Klain has given her various projects, which some saw as grooming Zients for the lead role, said people familiar with the arrangement, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters.

A White House spokesperson declined to comment.

Zients takes over as Biden enters a new and difficult period in his presidency: Republicans have already launched a barrage of investigations into the administration and business dealings of the president’s son. Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a special counsel to investigate the handling of classified documents found at Biden’s personal office and Wilmington, Delaware, home. And Biden is preparing to launch his re-election bid.

Zients comes to the post with a very different profile from Klain’s: his first government job dates back to the Obama administration and he has spent most of his career in the private sector. He has only ever worked in the executive. His personal Twitter account has no posts.

But his colleagues have praised Zients as a mastermind who engenders deep loyalty from those he oversees.

As Biden steps up his political activity, some Democrats have said they expect the structure of the chief of staff’s role to change, with Biden’s political advisers including Anita Dunn, Jen O’Malley Dillon, Mike Donilon , Steve Ricchetti and Bruce Reed, taking over even more prominence in the building.

They compared the arrangement to that of the Obama White House, when Jack Lew was chief of staff in 2012 and focused on keeping the federal government functioning, while David Plouffe, a political strategist, entered in the White House from 2011 to 2013 as a senior adviser overseeing the re-election campaign. Democrats say Dunn, a senior adviser, will play a similar role to Plouffe.

Zients, 56, was born in Washington and attended St. Albans School before graduating from Duke University. A successful management consultant, he ran the Advisory Board Company alongside David Bradley before taking it public and earning tens of millions of dollars. In the early 2000s, Zients formed a group to try to buy the Washington Nationals, an effort that ultimately failed.

He first entered government during the Obama administration and eventually held several senior positions, including heading the Office of Management and Budget and the National Economic Council. He developed a reputation as “Mr. Fix-It” for his strong operational skills, including helping to resolve the deployment issue for the Obama administration’s healthcare website, healthcare.gov.

After leaving the Obama administration, Zients ran an investment firm and spent two years on Facebook’s board, a experience that drew criticism from liberals.

During Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, Zients was brought in to help with campaign finances during a particularly difficult time. He then co-chaired Biden’s transition before leading the administration’s coronavirus response.

Leading the pandemic effort, Zients took on one of the most difficult and critical jobs for the president — overseeing early efforts to vaccinate the American public and adapt to new, highly infectious variants. When Zients left the White House, Biden hailed him as a “service man and expert manager.”

“I have called on Jeff Zients to lead my administration’s COVID-19 response because there is no one better to deliver results than Jeff,” Biden said in a statement at the time.

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