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Ron Klain and Biden in Washington, D.C., in 2014. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden announced Wednesday veteran Democratic operative Ron Klain as his White House chief of staff, highlighting their long history of working together on crucial issues related to the economy and public health crises.

Why it matters: Klain's experience working across the aisle and his role on Biden's coronavirus task force are two signals of the type of leadership Biden wants to bring to the White House.

  • His work on the task force has elevated his public profile on the top issue ravaging the country and on which Biden centered his presidential campaign near the end.
  • He was long thought to be the top choice for this spot, considered among the most critical unelected government positions.

Between the lines: Klain is a multifaceted Democratic operative, with a legal background and years of experience serving as a campaign adviser to presidential and VP candidates. He previously served as chief of staff at the White House to both Vice Presidents Al Gore and Biden.

  • In a statement, Biden touted the "deep, varied experience and capacity to work with people all across the political spectrum" of Klain, who previously clerked for Supreme Court  Justice Byron White.
  • Klain managed the Ebola outbreak response in 2014 under then-President Obama's administration and he's appeared in videos this year to highlight the Biden team's work on the COVID-19 crisis.
  • He often appears on MSNBC as well to talk about their work on the pandemic.
  • Although he's been part of the Washington establishment for decades, several Democratic activists and liberal operatives have privately told Axios that Klain was the best choice out of the others speculated to be in consideration.

What they're saying: "Ron has been invaluable to me over the many years that we have worked together, including as we rescued the American economy from one of the worst downturns in our history in 2009 and later overcame a daunting public health emergency in 2014," said Biden in a statement.

  • “It's the honor of a lifetime to serve Biden in this role, and I am humbled by his confidence," Klain said in a statement.
  • "I look forward to helping him and the Vice President-elect assemble a talented and diverse team to work in the White House, as we tackle their ambitious agenda for change, and seek to heal the divides in our country."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Jan 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Women take press lead in Biden era

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Women will overwhelmingly guide coverage of the White House and politics during the Biden administration, propelled by a slew of newly appointed leaders at major TV and radio networks, newspapers and digital outlets.

Why it matters: While female representation in the Washington press corps has steadily grown, what's changed most recently is the number of women in front of and behind cameras and bylines.

Jan 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Anthony Coley to lead Justice Department public affairs

Photo: Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images

Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden’s nominee for attorney general, has tapped Anthony Coley, an Obama-era Treasury Department official, to serve as a senior adviser and to lead public affairs at the Department of Justice, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: As the public face of the DOJ, Coley will help explain — and defend — the department's actions, from sensitive cases to prosecutorial decisions, including the investigation into Hunter Biden.

Acting Capitol Police chief: Phone logs show Jan. 6 National Guard approval was delayed

Pittman at a congressional tribute for fallen officer Brian Sicknick. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman testified on Thursday that cell phone records show former USCP Chief Steven Sund requested National Guard support from the House sergeant at arms as early as 12:58 p.m. on Jan. 6, but did not receive approval until over an hour later.

Why it matters: Sund and former House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving clashed at a Senate hearing on Tuesday over a dispute in the timeline for when Capitol Police requested the National Guard during the Capitol insurrection.