WILMINGTON, Del. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. appointed Ron Klain, a veteran Democratic agent and confidante for decades, to be his Chief of Staff at the White House on Wednesday evening to quickly install the senior government leaders he will lead early next year.
Mr. Klain, a lawyer with long experience on Capitol Hill advising President Barack Obama and corporate boardrooms, has been considered the most likely choice for months to lead Mr. Biden’s team at the White House. Known for his nerves, he also has a wild joke that he unleashed a number of times on President Trump on Twitter.
He was particularly critical of Mr. Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic after serving as “Ebola Tsar” in his second term during an outbreak of the deadly disease under Mr. Obama. A video of Mr Klain briefing Mr Trump about the pandemic was circulated widely during the campaign.
In a statement, Mr. Biden referred to Mr. Klain as an “invaluable” advisor who noted in particular the joint work during the 2009 economic crisis and the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
“His deep, diverse experience and ability to work with people from across the political spectrum is exactly what I need from a White House chief of staff as we face this moment of crisis and bring our country back together,” said Biden.
The election of Mr. Klain, who first worked for Mr. Biden in 1989, when Mr. Biden was a Senator from Delaware and Mr. Klain recently graduated from Harvard Law School, signals that Mr. Biden intends to rely on a narrow circle of Washington insiders who have been by his side for years.
Advisors have said the president-elect will announce more senior White House officials in the coming days, even if Mr. Trump refuses to accept the election results. Tweet “We’re going to win!” on Wednesday evening.
Mr Biden is unlikely to reveal his cabinet selections by Thanksgiving, several people near the transition said.
As a political tactician, Mr. Klain is very familiar with the levers of power in both the executive and legislative branches. But he will quickly come under pressure to assemble a White House staff that will go beyond the moderate members of the democratic establishment with whom Mr Biden has surrounded himself for over four decades in politics.
Even before Mr Biden’s announcement, the liberals in the party had begun to demand that the progressives in the west wing be given a significant voice. And the president-elect is also pressured to keep his campaign promise to have his government “look like the country” by tapping people of color, L.G.B.T.Q. Americans and other minorities are said to be part of the White House staff.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, one of Mr. Biden’s Liberal rivals for the Democratic nomination, praised Mr. Klain on TwitterCalling him “an excellent choice”, he said he “understands the scale of the health and economic crisis and has the experience to lead this next government through this crisis”.