WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama next week is expected to name Denis McDonough, one of his closest national security advisers, as his next chief of staff.
In tapping McDonough, Obama would be relying on an inner circle ally for the key West Wing post. McDonough, 43, currently serves as the president's deputy national security adviser and is highly regarded by Obama and White House staffers.
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The White House has yet to make an official announcement, but White House sources told major news outlets, including NBC and the New York Times, that McDonough will be named chief of staff.
McDonough would replace current White House chief of staff Jack Lew, the president's nominee for treasury secretary.
McDonough (sitting third from right) watches raid on bin Laden's compound (Photo: Pete Souza)
Before his tenure in the White House, McDonough served as Obama's main adviser on foreign policy issues during the 2008 presidential campaign. Earlier, he worked as a foreign policy specialist in Congress, including as a senior foreign policy adviser to former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.
Upon entering the White House, the inexperienced Obama appointed officials with proven records to fill key positions. General Jim Jones was appointed national security advisor, Hillary Clinton was appointed secretary of state and Robert Gates was asked to stay on as defense secretary. Tim Geithner, the former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was appointed treasury secretary.
In his second term, Obama is appointing close confidantes who he believes have proven themselves over the past four years. He named John Brennan as CIA director, Jack Lew is set to replace Geithner and McDonough will serve as chief of staff.
McDonough would be Obama's fifth chief of staff. Rahm Emanuel, William Daly and Pete Rouse, as interim chief of staff, preceded Lew in the job.
If Obama chooses McDonough it will likely be less because of his national security credentials and more because of McDonough's highly regarded status within the White House.
"He's easy to work with and focused on getting the job done for the boss, hammering out the best policy possible given the political realities," said Doug Hattaway, a Democratic consultant who worked with McDonough in the Senate.
McDonough's place in Obama's inner circle was illustrated during the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011. He is among those captured in a White House photograph seated in the situation room with Obama and other senior officials watching the raid unfold.
McDonough grew up in Minnesota, one of 11 children. Two of his brothers are priests. He is a graduate of St. John's University in Minnesota and received his master's degree from Georgetown University.