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Jeff Zients will be Biden’s new chief of staff

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President Biden will appoint Jeff Zients as his next chief of staff and will turn to a management consultant who oversaw the government’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 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. In the fall, he returned to the White House to help Klain prepare for post-midterm staff turnover—a project that ended up being limited in scope, as few senior staffers left over the administration. But in recent weeks, Klain has assigned him several projects, which some see as preparing Zients for the top role, people familiar with the arrangement said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters.

A White House spokesperson declined to comment.

Zients takes over the top job as Biden enters a new and challenging part of 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 special counsel to investigate the handling of classified documents found in Biden’s personal office and in Wilmington, Del., Home. And Biden is preparing to launch his re-election bid.

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’s only ever worked in the executive branch. His personal Twitter account has no posts.

But colleagues have praised Zients as a master performer who inspires deep loyalty in the people he mentors.

As Biden ramps up his political activities, 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 even more prominently 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 running, while David Plouffe, a political strategist, entered the White House from 2011 to 2013. as a senior advisor to oversee the re-election campaign. Democrats say Dunn, a senior adviser, will fill 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 raising 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 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 solve the difficult rollout of the Obama administration’s healthcare website, healthcare.gov.

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

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

In leading efforts to combat the pandemic, Zients took on one of the most challenging and critical tasks for the president: overseeing early efforts to vaccinate the American public and adapt to new and highly contagious infections. variants. When Zients left the White House, Biden praised him as a “servant man and an accomplished manager.”

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

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