Jeff Zients to be Biden’s next chief of staff

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

Zients left the White House in April after managing the administration’s pandemic response and leading the largest vaccination campaign in US history. He returned to the White House in the fall to help Klain prepare for staff turnover after the midterms — a project ultimately limited in scope as few senior staffers have left the administration. But in recent weeks, Klain has assigned him various projects that some viewed as preparing Zients for the top role, said people familiar with the arrangement, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters.

A White House spokesman declined to comment.

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

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Zients comes into the job with a very different profile than Klain: His first government job was during the Obama administration, and he has spent most of his career in the private sector. He has only ever worked in the executive branch. His personal Twitter account has no posts.

But colleagues have praised Zients as a master implementer who commands deep loyalty from the people he oversees.

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

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

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 with 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 was ultimately unsuccessful.

He first entered government during the Obama administration and ended up serving in several senior roles, including leading 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 fix the troubled rollout of the Obama administration’s healthcare website, healthcare.gov.

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After leaving the Obama administration, Zients ran a private equity firm and spent two years on the board of Facebook, an experience that has drawn criticism from liberals.

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

Leading the effort to combat the pandemic, Zients took on one of the most challenging and critical tasks for the president — overseeing the early efforts to vaccinate the American public and adapt to new and highly contagious strains. When Zients left the White House, Biden praised him as a “serviceman and an expert leader.”

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

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