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Entries in Chief of Staff (8)

Sunday
Jun092013

McCain, Feinstein and Obama Chief of Staff on Surprise Trip to Gitmo

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images(HAVANA) -- Senators John McCain, R-Ariz., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., traveled to the federal detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Sunday with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.

The trip came amid a mass hunger strike of more than one hundred prisoners at the most recognizable and controversial holding facility in the war on terrorism. President Obama had promised to close Guantanamo when he was running for president in 2008, but progress has long since stalled.

Last month the president publicly declared his continued commitment to closing the gates of the detention center for good.

It is notable that on this trip there is the rare occurrence of a high-level administration official joining the congressional delegation, as is the presence of top congressional leaders from both parties, both of whom hold leadership positions on committees that are instrumental to garnering legislative support on the issue.

Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has spent years lobbying to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.  In late April she called on the Obama administration to transfer the 86 Guantanamo detainees that were cleared for transfer more than three years ago.

And while McCain, the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been an outspoken critic of several of Obama’s overseas policies, he has also bucked many in his party as a stringent supporter of closing the detention center.

On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to keep the prison open, split on party lines.

In a statement Friday, the National Security Council’s Caitlin Hayden said that McDonough, Feinstein and McCain traveled to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay “to review the situation there and discuss the steps that we can take with the Congress to meet the President’s goal of closing the facility.”

McCain’s trip to Cuba comes less than two weeks after a trip to another controversial hot spot in American foreign policy: The senator became the highest ranking U.S. official to visit Syria since their bloody civil war began.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov082011

Role of White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley Changing

ABC/Martin H. Simon(WASHINGTON) -- Coming off a difficult summer for President Obama and heading into what is shaping up to be a difficult re-election season, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley’s role at the White House is changing, sources told ABC News, with senior advisor Pete Rouse assuming an expanded operational and coordination role with White House staff akin to that of a chief operating officer.

White House officials denied that this was in any way a demotion for Daley, insisting that several weeks ago Daley had asked Rouse, a top aide to the president since his election to the Senate in 2004, to expand his role by helping the West Wing run more smoothly, making it more effective and efficient.

Daley made the announcement at a White House staff meeting on Monday.

“As a lot of you know, I’ve asked Pete to take on a greater operational role,” Daley said, according to one attendee, who said Daley described Rouse’s role as that of a “chief operational officer.”

Rouse had been assuming this expanded role for several weeks, and Daley decided to make it official on Monday, a source said.  This does not mean that Rouse will assume responsibility for running day to day operations at the White House, the source said, insisting that Daley would continue to run the 7:30 a.m. meeting for top senior staff, the 8:15 a.m. expanded senior staff meeting and all meetings when President Obama meets with his senior advisors.

Rouse will oversee internal communications and operations, the source said.

President Obama felt that White House operations needed to improve, so Daley set out to try to do that, the source said.  So many quickly-developing issues required someone to better monitor how the White House handles each one, making sure that responsibilities are delegated and every division within the White House -- the national security staff, communications, the economic team -- is keeping all the others informed.

The value in having Rouse assume responsibility for this, sources said, is that Rouse is regarded as a master of operations -- smart, effective and low key.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb162011

Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton to Leave White House

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Almost three weeks after being passed over for the White House press secretary position, and just a couple hours after the first briefing by the man who did get the job, Jay Carney,  deputy press secretary Bill Burton announced Wednesday that he’s leaving the White House. Friday will be his last day.

Burton, in an e-mail to friends and colleagues, announced that he would be forming a Democratic consulting firm with Sean Sweeney, the former chief of staff to former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. The two worked together at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006, when Emanuel was the chair, Sweeney was the political director, and Burton was the communications director.

Prior to Wednesday, Burton, a loyal lieutenant to former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, was the only member of the press office to have briefed reporters in Gibbs’ absence. President Obama not asking him to serve as Gibbs’ replacement was something of a surprise to many reporters.

In his e-mail, Burton recalled that it was four years ago this week that he “stood with many of you in Springfield as then-Senator Barack Obama announced an improbable campaign for president on an unbelievably cold day.  And then I stood with a lot more of you on an unseasonably warm night in Chicago as the next First Family strode onto stage in Grant Park.  There was another cold day in Washington -- when all the rest of you hangers-on showed up -- and that Senator became President.  And all those days since, we worked together to make the change he promised a reality in the lives of countless Americans.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Thursday
Jan062011

President Obama Picks Bill Daley as His New Chief of Staff

Photo Courtesy - LUKE FRAZZA/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama introduced his new chief of staff Thursday afternoon: Bill Daley, who served as commerce secretary under Bill Clinton.

The interim chief of staff, Pete Rouse, will serve as “counselor to the president,” a promotion from his former role.

The seventh and youngest child of the late Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, Daley may be best known by the public for not conceding on election night as the campaign chair for Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign.

But there’s obviously much more that Daley represents. Daley, until now an executive at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co, brings business ties to the job, ones critics say have been sorely lacking in this White House.

It’s also likely not a coincidence that Daley becomes chief of staff as a new Republican majority has assumed control of the House.

In a December 2009 op-ed for the Washington Post, Daley wrote top Democrats need to “acknowledge that the agenda of the party's most liberal supporters has not won the support of a majority of Americans -- and, based on that recognition, to steer a more moderate course on the key issues of the day, from health care to the economy to the environment to Afghanistan.”

“The leaders of the Democratic Party need to move back toward the center -- and in doing so, set the stage for the many years' worth of leadership necessary to produce the sort of pragmatic change the American people actually want,” Daley wrote.

This pick is not being met with applause from liberal groups.

"This was a real mistake by the White House. Bill Daley consistently urges the Democratic Party to pursue a corporate agenda that alienates both Independent and Democratic voters,” said Adam Green, co-founder, Progressive Change Campaign Committee at BoldProgressives.org, which has 675,000 members. “If President Obama listens to that kind of political advice from Bill Daley, Democrats will suffer a disastrous 2012."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan052011

Bill Daley Is in the (White) House

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Bill Daley, the former Clinton Commerce Secretary and possible Obama White House chief of staff, is at the White House meeting with President Obama and other officials about the possibility of his assuming the reins from interim chief of staff Pete Rouse. No final decision has been made as of yet, but top Democrats expect that Daley will become the new chief of staff, with Rouse returning to his former position as a senior adviser.

This Friday, President Obama is expected to name Treasury Department official Gene Sperling to be his director of the National Economic Council.  Sperling previously served in that role from 1997 to 2001.

President Obama will also name some other economic staffers at the Friday event, including Ron Bloom, who worked on the auto bailouts and restructuring and will now assume a broader portfolio focusing on manufacturing in general.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov162010

Michelle Obama's Second Chief of Staff Resigns

Photo Courtesy - Pete Souza/The White House(WASHINGTON) -- Michelle Obama's chief of staff is stepping down.

The first lady's office says Susan Sher will return to Chicago after the first of next year. A replacement has not yet been determined. 

This marks the second chief of staff Mrs. Obama has gone through in only two years. Her first chief of staff, Jackie Norris, departed in June of 2009.

“Susan has been both a colleague and a dear friend for decades, and I have been grateful every day for her leadership and wise counsel in Washington,” said first lady Michelle Obama in a paper statement.  “I also very much appreciate her generosity in staying longer than she initially planned –- spending so many months away from her family in Chicago -– to help me build my office in the East Wing.  I wish her all the best.”

The White House has also put out a paper statement from the president.

“Susan has brought tremendous skill and dedication to the first lady’s office, as well as my administration’s outreach to the Jewish community and our efforts to pass health care reform, and I thank her for her service,” President Obama said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep282010

Obama Likely To Select Emanuel Replacement From Within His Administration

Photo Courtesy -- The White House(WASHINGTON) -- In light of what could be a difficult mid-term election time for Democrats, the White House and President Obama will have to retool and reorganize upon the likely departure of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.  As previously reported, Emanuel is expected to announce Friday whether he will leave his post at the White House and pursue the position of mayor of Chicago.  Concurrently, Obama will be expected to name an interim chief of staff and eventually a definite replacement for Emanuel.  Known for maintaining a tight inner circle, the president in likely to choose an experienced replacement from within his administration.   Vice President Biden's chief of staff Ron Klain, Deputy National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina are all said to be on the list of candidates.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Tuesday
Sep282010

Rahm Emanuel Likely to Leave White House This Week

Photo Courtesy -- The White House(WASHINGTON) -- ABC News has learned that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is planning to make an announcement on Friday as to whether or not he is leaving his post within the Obama administration to explore a run for mayor of Chicago.  Although his decision has not been finalized, Emanuel's likely departure is not a surprise, as his mayoral aspirations have been well known.  White House officials expect that President Obama will also name an interim chief of staff, perhaps senior adviser Pete Rouse, at the announcement.   The president has been clear that Emanuel had his blessing when the job opened, aides calling it an “unbelievably attractive opportunity” for anyone that the president would support.  Emanuel has to declare his intent to enter the race by the Nov. 22nd filing deadline in Chicago. Candidates need to collect 12,500 signatures by that day to qualify for a February 22, 2011 Democratic primary.  Emanuel began to seriously consider his run for Chicago mayor when longtime Chicago mayor Richard M. Daly announced earlier this month that he would not seek reelection.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio









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