Biden begins to consider White House staff appointments

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After choosing Ron Klain as his chief of staff this week, President-elect Joe Biden is deliberating about who he will pick to fill other key White House positions. Five people familiar with Mr. Biden’s thinking on the transition talked to CBS News about the upcoming staffing moves.

According to these sources, White House communications director is the most coveted position at the moment. Kate Bedingfield, the campaign’s communications director, is up for consideration. These sources say that she has leverage to advocate for any position, and she is also talked about as a contender the White House press secretary. Adrienne Elrod, who led the surrogates strategy for the Biden campaign, is also being considered for a top communications role. Jen Psaki, current Biden transition adviser and former Obama communications official, is weighing her options, these people said.

Symone Sanders is also a serious contender for White House press secretary. In her book and in interviews in the past year she has expressed interest in this role, and she would be the first Black White House press secretary. She is well respected inside the campaign and by Mr. Biden, but the sources familiar with the transition say there is some hesitation by the old guard and top Biden advisers about her age. She will turn 31 next month.

Campaign senior adviser Anita Dunn — one of the most decisive advisers in the campaign — is not planning to head into the White House. She is returning to her role at lobbying firm SKDKnickerbocker. This is her decision, and she is expected to continue have a big influence in the Biden White House, as she did in the Obama White House.

Campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon is discussed in a senior adviser role or a political role like in legislative affairs. 

Longtime Biden advisers like Bruce Reed, Steve Ricchetti and Mike Donilon are also expected to obtain top adviser roles. These are some of the most influential voices in determining the White House team. Representative Cedric Richmond, co-chair of the Biden transition team, also has considerable sway directly with Mr. Biden. 

Although the federal agency which oversees the presidential transition has not yet formally kickstarted the process, Mr. Biden has begun making critical decisions about his White House. Officials on the Biden transition team have pushed the administrator of the General Services Administration to “ascertain” Mr. Biden as the winner to begin the process.

Once the transition process formally begins, future staffers can begin meeting with current agency officials to set the Biden administration’s policy priorities. Biden transition team officials have raised concerns that truncating this process could make a smooth transfer more difficult.

Also during this time, Mr. Biden is crafting his Cabinet selections. Asked Saturday while on a bike ride if he is closer to a decision on this matter, a helmet-and-face-mask wearing Mr. Biden replied, “Yes.”

Grace Segers contributed to this report.



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