WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama selected a close aide and foreign policy adviser as his next chief of staff on Friday, part of a White House shake-up that signaled the president intends to rely on familiar faces in his second term.
Denis McDonough, a deputy national security adviser and a longtime aide to the president, will replace outgoing chief of staff Jack Lew, Obama’s nominee to lead the Treasury Department.
Unlike Lew, McDonough comes to the job from the Obama inner circle, knowing his boss and his colleagues well. McDonough first joined the Obama team during the 2008 presidential campaign. But his connection to the president goes back further, when as a Capitol Hill aide he helped the new senator from Illinois set up his office and learn the ropes.
McDonough has played a key role in many of the major foreign policy decisions of Obama’s first term. Aides say few in the White House understand the president’s foreign policy views as well.
He coordinated the Obama policy to scale back the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan and was involved in the operation that killed Osama bin Laden in his hideout in Pakistan. He also dealt with the political fallout after the U.S. diplomatic mission was attacked in Libya.