Zients left the White House in April after overseeing the administration’s response to the pandemic and leading the largest vaccination campaign in US history. He returned to the White House in the fall to help Klain prepare for a post-midterm staff recovery — a project that ultimately fell short, as a few key staff members left the state. But, in recent weeks, Mr. Klain has given him various assignments, which some see as grooming Zients for the top job, people familiar with the plan said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters.
A White House spokesman declined to comment.
Zients is taking a high-profile position as Biden enters his new and challenging presidency: Republicans have already launched an investigation into the administration and business dealings of the president’s son. Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a special counsel to investigate the handling of documents found at Biden’s office and Wilmington, Del., home. And Mr. Biden is preparing to launch his election.
Zients comes to the job with a very different background than Klain: His first public service was during the Obama administration, and he has spent much of his time in business. He has only worked in the main branch. His Twitter account has no posts.
But co-workers praised Zients as a successful executive who inspires high levels of loyalty from the people he supervises.
As Biden expands his political activities, some Democrats said they expect the character of the chief of staff to change, with Biden’s political advisers, including Anita Dunn, Jen O’Malley Dillon, Mike Donilon, Steve Ricchetti and Bruce Reed, taking part. sides. very popular in this house.
He compared the system to the Obama White House, where Jack Lew became chief of staff in 2012 and focused on improving the federal government, while David Plouffe, a political analyst, joined the White House from 2011 to 2013 as director. general counsel overseeing the re-election campaign. Democrats said Dunn, a senior adviser, would serve as Plouffe.
Zients, 56, was born in Washington and educated at St. Albans School before graduating from Duke University. A successful management professional, he ran the Advisory Board Company with David Bradley before taking it public and raising millions of dollars. In the early 2000s, Zients formed a group to try to buy the Washington Nationals, an attempt that was unsuccessful.
He first joined the administration during the Obama administration and ended up holding several high-profile jobs, including running the Office of Management and Budget and the National Economic Council. He became famous as “Mr. Fix-It” for his strong work ethic, including helping to fix the problematic release of the Obama Administration’s health care website, healthcare.gov.
After leaving the Obama administration, Zients ran an investment firm and spent two years on the Facebook board, drawing criticism from liberals.
During Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, Zients was brought in to help with the campaign’s finances at a critical time. He then led the Biden transition before leading the coronavirus response.
In leading the effort to combat the epidemic, Zients took on the most difficult and difficult task for the president – overseeing the initial efforts to vaccinate the American people and adopt new and highly contagious strains. After Zients left the White House, Biden praised him as “a very helpful person and a professional administrator.”
“I asked Jeff Zients to lead my response to COVID-19 because there is no one better than Jeff,” Biden said in a statement at the time.