Obama expected to name McDonough next chief of staff
January 16th, 2013
09:41 PM ET
1 year ago

Obama expected to name McDonough next chief of staff

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama is expected to name Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough as the next White House chief of staff, several sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

McDonough would replace Jack Lew, who has been nominated for secretary of the Treasury Department.

CNN reported earlier that McDonough was a lead contender for the job, along with Ron Klain, who once served as Vice President Joe Biden's chief of staff.

McDonough would be Obama's fourth official chief of staff since he took office in January 2009. Rahm Emanuel, who went on to become Chicago mayor, was the first to hold the position, followed by Bill Daley, then Jack Lew. Pete Rouse, a former senior adviser and now counselor to the president, served as interim chief of staff for three months between Emanuel and Daley.

The White House announced McDonough as deputy national security adviser in October 2010.

"For years, I have counted on Denis McDonough's expertise and counsel on national security issues," the president said in a statement at the time. "He possesses a remarkable intellect, irrepressible work ethic, and a sense of collegiality that has earned him the respect of his colleagues."

Before his appointment, McDonough had served on the national security staff in other capacities. He was also a senior foreign policy adviser for Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. Previously, on Capitol Hill, McDonough worked as a foreign policy adviser for Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle.

Originally from Stillwater, Minnesota, McDonough graduated from St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and has a master's degree from Georgetown University.

The decision comes as Obama faces criticism for a lack of diversity among his top-level Cabinet picks for his second term. His nominees for secretary of state, secretary of defense, treasury secretary and CIA director have all been male.

Addressing the criticism during a news conference Monday, Obama told reporters he has yet to fill all the vacant posts.

"I would just suggest that everybody kind of wait until they've seen all my appointments, who is in the White House staff and who is in my Cabinet, before they rush to judgment," Obama said.

He also pointed to Hillary Clinton, the outgoing secretary of state, as an example of a woman he appointed to a top position, though he didn't mention her by name.

In addition, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano were both appointed during Obama's first term and have said they plan to stay. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, meanwhile, announced her resignation earlier this month.

Obama also must find a successor to Ken Salazar, who announced Wednesday that he's stepping down from his position as head of the Interior Department. With the departure of Salazar and Solis, there will be no Latinos in the president's cabinet.

"I think until you've seen what my overall team looks like, it's premature to assume that somehow we're going backwards," Obama said Monday. "We're not going backwards, we're going forward."

– CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


Filed under: Denis McDonough • President Obama • White House
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Kevin B

    The real war on women is revealed. Get the guy a binder for gosh sakes!

    January 16, 2013 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  2. Gregory M. Newbold

    He should have fought for Susan Rice. In fact, he should let Hilary Clinton testify on Benghazi, take the reduced heat resulting from Rice absorbing the blow, then pull the Kerry nomination, and nominate Dr. Rice.

    He`d drive the republican opposition nuts, would silence the diversity criticism, and telegraph to the GOP not to muck around with him.

    January 16, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  3. ramble3144

    They all leave soon after. So, this guy should last 2 years. Obama must be the worst person in the world to work for.

    January 17, 2013 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  4. reply

    Guess Omama should have asked Romney for the 'binders.' Well, it's all Bush's fault and the YouTube video.

    January 17, 2013 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  5. Bob

    Haven't Mc Cain and his 2 goons, Graham and Ayotte , "planned" one of their POW-WOWS yet?

    January 17, 2013 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  6. Mr Moses

    It is important that the cabinet of the president reflect the diversity that make the tapestry of America. Its insensible that one can choose from a pool of candidates that are all oranges. Its a fact there are more diverse fruits in the country and the world should see that.

    January 17, 2013 03:23 am at 3:23 am |
  7. No Party Patriot

    Has Obama ever lost to any GOP idea, or person? Lets review:
    McCain!Palin – no
    Romney/Ryan – no (hell no)
    Obama Care – no
    GM bailout – no
    Don't ask don't tell -no
    Tax raise for wealthy – no
    Pulling out of Iraq – no
    Debt ceiling raised in 2011 – no
    Fiscal cliff standoff – no
    Gun control – ? I guess we'll see but I'm Starting to see a trend here?

    January 17, 2013 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  8. Jonquil

    Why are some people so ridiculous? The President should pick the best PEOPLE for his cabinet, of the current choices and considering that he will be going to battle with the grumpy, old man in The House of Representatives, he knows exactly what he's doing. One of his most dependable cabinet members in his last administration, was a woman and it probably still would've been, if she'd not resigned.

    Mr. President, from one strong woman to you: Pick who feels like the best fit for this administration's synergy, all things considered. Ignore those silly people who think you're collecting toys for a curio collection or picking characters for a sitcom.

    January 17, 2013 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  9. SAM

    Why is sex being a qualifier to a position. So what if the entire cabinet was all males or all females? or a combination of both? I'd like to think that those positions are filled based on qualifications other than which hormone controls your body..

    January 17, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  10. VICTOR PALAZZO

    stop second guessing the President. He should choose whomever fits the shoes, regardless of gender, ethnicity or skin color. Apparently the critics would rather set a quota than care for the ability or team-playing character of the individual.

    January 17, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |