Denis McDonough named White House chief of staff


Denis McDonough (R, with pencil behind ear) conferring with President Barack Obama and speechwriter Ben Rhodes on Air Force One en route to Cairo, Egypt, on June 4, 2009.


Pete Souza/The White House

President Barack Obama named Denis McDonough, a deputy national-security adviser, the new White House chief of staff Friday.

As a long-time member of Obama's national security team, "Denis has played a key role in all of the major national security decisions — from ending the war in Iraq to winding down the war in Afghanistan; from our response to natural disasters in Haiti and Japan; to the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'" a White House statement previewing the announcement said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

McDonough is “a great friend to me and everybody who works here at the White House,” Obama said during the announcement in Washington, according to The Associated Press.

Three men have preceded McDonough in the job of Obama’s chief of staff — Rahm Emanuel, Bill Daley and Jack Lew. Emanuel is now the Mayor of Chicago and Obama has nominated Lew for US Treasury secretary.

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McDonough, 43, will be the youngest White House chief of staff in more than 30 years, Politico reported. The wonkish Minnesotan, who's often seen with a pencil tucked behind his ear, has less domestic policy experience than most chiefs of staff typically do.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

In tapping Mr. McDonough, Mr. Obama is elevating one of his longtime, trusted advisers, a signal that a top priority for his selection of a chief of staff in a second term was familiarity.

“There are a lot of hardworking, affable, good people in town, but not that many have the relationship with the president Denis does,” former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) told Politico. “That gives him extraordinary credibility in dealing with Congress, dealing with the Cabinet, and with the many challenges that any chief of staff faces.”

Obama is expected to announce other White House promotions Friday, including Lisa Monaco to a role as White House homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, Dan Pfeiffer to senior adviser and Jennifer Palmieri to communications director, the Wall Street Journal reported.