White House personnel shuffle: Who's on the list
November 29th, 2012
01:43 PM ET
1 year ago

White House personnel shuffle: Who's on the list

Washington (CNN) - Staff and cabinet reshuffles are one of the many unknowns in Washington as impending departures leave question marks about who will fill the roles of treasury secretary, chief of staff, secretary of state and secretary of defense.

Jack Lew, President Barack Obama's current chief of staff, is the frontrunner for the top position at Treasury, according to senior Democratic sources. The budget expert has a 30-plus year record in government. He formerly served under Obama as director of the Office of Management and Budget, deputy secretary of state for management and resources for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and as a special assistant to former President Bill Clinton. He was a longtime aide to former Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill.

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Inside the White House it is believed he would likely have a smooth Senate confirmation and his budget background would prove especially valuable given the fiscal challenges the country faces. Despite a stint at Citigroup, Lew is regarded by Wall Street as a Washington player, not a market expert, and several top executives said they consider Lew accessible and willing to listen.

Tapping Lew for treasury secretary would leave the chief of staff position vacant.

Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough is on the list of potential chiefs of staff. This is perhaps a surprising name in the mix since his background is in foreign policy and he is relatively young. However, he is well liked by the president. McDonough now serves in the No. 2 position at the White House's National Security Council and has quickly risen through the ranks. He was a senior foreign policy adviser during the 2008 presidential campaign before he headed the communications shop for the NSC at the beginning of the president's first term.

Ron Klain, Vice President Joe Biden's former chief of staff who led the president's debate preparations, is also a contender for the top job, according to senior Democrats. Obama is said to be impressed with his debate prep work during the election and the well connected lawyer is a familiar presence to those inside the current White House. The same sources said if he is not tapped for the chief of staff job, he might be asked to serve in another senior level West Wing position.

Despite the floated names, X factors abound. If current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice is not nominated for secretary of state, these sources said Obama could nominate her to lead the NSC, replacing current White House National Security Adviser Donilon. In that scenario, Donilon, among the staffers most liked by the president, might be asked to serve as chief of staff. His wife Catherine Russell is chief of staff to the vice president's wife, Jill Biden.

Speculation Rice will be nominated as secretary of state to replace Hillary Clinton is still high, something her recent meetings on Capitol Hill with critics did little to quell. Democratic officials told CNN Rice wanted to visit the Hill to answer questions after the fallout from her appearances on Sunday shows following the attacks in Benghazi.

But Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who has long wanted the job, is still in the mix. The former Democratic presidential nominee and chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee has kept a low profile, a potential sign he's continuing to angle for the top diplomatic position. His name has also been floated as an option to head the defense department when Leon Panetta steps down, even though he is said to not want that job.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and former Sen. Chuck Hagel also make the defense list, according to senior Democrats.

Carter has a history of handling budget and business issues, fitting topics at this time.

Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska, is the former deputy administrator of veterans affairs under former President Ronald Reagan, served in the Vietnam War and on the Senate foreign relations committee. A Hagel pick would follow a tradition of nominating bipartisan secretaries of defense, most recently Robert Gates who served under Obama and former President George W. Bush.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    John McCain is never selected to do nothing but "shadow box" alone. Send him home.

    November 29, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I haven't read the story yet, I was arrested by the beauty of this photo with Hillary, and the light shining just so over my President. Two people who love, truly love this country and are willing to fight tooth and nail for it and ALL of it's citizens.
    I am just so very, very proud to have become an American by choice all those many years ago.
    God bless my country, my America!

    November 29, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Put Hagel at defense! Move Lew to Treasury. Rice MUST be at the State Department. We need Sen. Kerry to remain the senior senator from Massachusetts.

    November 29, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  4. The REAL Truth...

    The ONLY reason the Obstructionists are going after Rice is so they can take her out of the picture and Obama will be forced to offer Kerry instead. They'll approve Kerry in order to free up his senate seat which they think will be a shoo-in for Scott Brown. Whether you agree with what Rice said about Benghazi or not, TRUTH is that she was handed the info by the CIA – based on FACTS available at that time. Whether the CIA or some other Fed Dept. doctored the info prior to it getting to her remains to be seen. If it was doctored, then the responsible parties should arrested for treason.

    November 29, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Almost forgot about Chief of Staff. I would appoint a big shocker. Wait for it, wait for it.......................ELLIOT SPITZER

    That's right! I said it. ELLIOT SPITZER will serve the President well and is an ideal candidate for the job. Bring Wall Street's Sheriff to Washington.

    November 29, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  6. Woman In California

    I would love to see John Kerry as SOS but not at the expense of Brown picking up his seat again. The president's decision will be interesting.

    November 29, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  7. Facts don't Lie

    really doesn't matter who the president picks you can beat your bottom dollar the Republicans will find something wrong with him or her. Perhaps he should find a place for the likes of Donald Trump and John Sunnunu. Make Trump the Ambassador to Kenya so he can spend his time there trying to find if the president was really born there or not. And send Sunnunu back to Cuba where he can run his own FoxNews like channel and see how far that will get him.

    November 29, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  8. Twit Romney

    Sarah Palin would be an excellent Secretary of State as soon as she understands where the various countries are on the globe.

    November 29, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  9. plain&simple

    Chuck Hagel is a good intelligent man and well respected. Wherever you appoint him will benefit the President and our country.

    November 29, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  10. California Gary

    I think Hagel would be a great choice for defense.....one of the few remaining Republicans with a sense of "country". I'd like to see the president offer up the post in Libya to McCain, or maybe his sidekick from South Carolina......since they think everything there was botched, let them go down there and fix it. If they refuse, maybe Mr. Romney would like the assignment......he seemed to have issues with it as well.

    November 29, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "White House personnel shuffle: Who's on the list"

    Who cares. I can tell you who's NOT on the list though: OBAMA. Bwahahahahahaha!!!!! Eat it, Teatrolls!

    November 29, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  12. PeterD

    President Bush was a Liberator. He liberated People of Afghanistan and Iraq from Dictator While President Obama is a Debtator. He has indebted People of America with $6 Trillion in Debt.

    November 29, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  13. LovesIrony

    Why does the Vice President's wife need a Chief of Staff?

    November 29, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  14. Mete Krop

    I think Romeny should be given some sort of job in this admin like secretary of ech-e-skech which he is well experienced.

    November 29, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    President Bush was a Liberator. He liberated People of Afghanistan and Iraq from Dictator
    -------------------------------------------------
    President Bush was also my President but I knew, and everyone else knew, here and around the world that he was a first class, easily-manipulated village idiot.
    Stop kidding yourself.

    November 29, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  16. MAC 615

    If the Sec. of State is suppose to have integrity, not be ultra political, and not lied to the American people about the death by terrorist, then Susan Rice is not qualified. John Kerry should not ever be Sec. of Defense after he lied to Congress about other Viet Nam Vets, like my own father, in 1971 and called Iraq and Afgan War veterans like my son and nephews, as not being smart in 2006 to a group of college students who are probably in the 75% of America's youth who cannot get into the Armed Forces due to physical, moral, or possibly even academic disqualification, in 2006.

    November 29, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  17. Facts don't Lie

    @ PeterD.....

    your Liberator as you like to call him left the American people with TWO unfunded wars, the loss of thousands of lives in all three countries you have mentioned and mos of the so-called liberated people of Afghanistan don't even want us there and some are even killing our soliders. At least President Obama wants to bring our men and women home. Let's not even get into the unpaid tax cuts for the wealthy your "Liberator" left the debt of as well.

    November 29, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Hey Iraq! How's the liberation going? Don't suppose you could send us some of those oil revenues to help us pay off that $6 trillion deficit Bush gave us.

    November 29, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  19. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    PeterD

    Bush and his henchmen should be on trial for war crimes. He should have been impeached for lying us into war. The blood of thousands of American soldiers and innocent Iraqis are on his hands. There was no "Al Queda In Iraq" until Bush decided to invade Iraq.

    November 29, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  20. MAC 615

    Obama created more debt in 4 years than Bush did in 8 years, and the greatest increases occurred when the democrats took the House and Senate that is a fact

    November 29, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |