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Biden names ex-aide Jeff Zients as new Chief of Staff

Jeff Zients

U.S President Joe Biden (right) looks on as Jeff Zients speaks

President Joe Biden on Friday appointed his former top COVID-19 aide, Jeff Zients, to the position of White House Chief of Staff.

As Chief of Staff, Zients will manage the president’s access, set his agenda, communicate with political power brokers, and serve as a crisis manager and sounding board for ideas.

Zients succeeds Ron Klain, who guided Biden through his first two years in office.

Klain’s departure will deprive Biden of one of his closest, most trusted aides, having worked with him throughout his decades-long Washington career—from senator to vice president, then victor over Donald Trump in 2020.

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“During the last 36 years, Ron and I have been through some real battles together. And when you’re in the trenches with somebody for as long as I have been with Ron, you get to know the person. You see what they’re made of,” Biden said in a statement.

Klain is credited with orchestrating the intricate, behind-the-scenes negotiations between the White House and congressional lawmakers that have resulted in Biden getting a slew of landmark bills passed, often against the odds.

Zients, who oversaw the massive Covid-19 pandemic response when Biden took office, is regarded as a skilled technocrat who, while lacking Klain’s deep political connections, will work to ensure that earlier legislative victories are carried out.

“A big task ahead is now implementing the laws we’ve gotten passed efficiently and fairly,” Biden said.

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