President Obama is bringing former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta back to the White House for a yearlong stint as a top adviser, an administration official confirmed Monday.
Podesta, a longtime Democratic operative who led President Obama’s transition team, is returning to an embattled White House that has seen the president’s popularity hammered by the botched rollout of his signature healthcare law, an unpopular and abandoned push for military strikes against Syria, and continued controversy over revelations about the nation’s surveillance activities.
It’s the second major move for the White House in the past week, as chief of staff Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonoughExpats plead with US to deliver COVID-19 vaccines Veteran suicides dropped to lowest level in 12 years Veterans grapple with new Afghanistan: 'Was my service worth it?' MORE looks to shake up a West Wing that has come under fire in recent weeks from friends and foes alike.
On Friday, White House officials said that Phil Schiliro, the former White House director of legislative affairs, will return for a “short-term appointment” to help coordinate between government agencies and members of Congress as the administration implements ObamaCare.
Podesta is also expected to advise McDonough on the healthcare law, according to The New York Times, which first reported his return. Additionally, Podesta will also counsel the White House on the president’s second-term climate change agenda.
It’s an issue Podesta has frequently discussed in his role as the founder of the Center for American Progress (CAP), a prominent liberal think tank in Washington. On Friday, Podesta tweeted a CAP report encouraging Secretary of the Interior Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellBiden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA declines to tighten key air pollution standards | Despite risks to polar bears, Trump pushes ahead with oil exploration in Arctic | Biden to champion climate action in 2021 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA proposes reapproving uses of pesticide linked to brain damage in children | Hispanic caucus unhappy with transition team treatment of Lujan Grisham | Schwarzenegger backs Nichols to lead EPA MORE and Secretary of Agriculture Tom VilsackTom VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE to establish goals reducing carbon emissions from public lands over time.
During a speech on the economy hosted by the group last week, Obama heralded the group as having “done incredible work to shape the debate over expanding opportunity for all Americans.”
“I could not be more grateful to CAP not only for giving me a lot of good policy ideas, but also giving me a lot of staff,” Obama continued, calling Podesta a “friend.”
“You guys are obviously doing a good job training folks,” he added.
The president hinted at a news conference last month that changes could be coming to his team.
"I think we have to ask ourselves some hard questions inside the White House as opposed to why we didn't see more of these problems coming earlier on," Obama said.
The return of Podesta is somewhat of a surprise after a Politico report last month that he and former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina were in serious discussions to reboot Priorities USA, the pro-Obama political action committee that aided the president’s reelection effort.
According to that report, the pair was set to relaunch the group in an effort to aid the potential candidacy of former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMcCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Bill Clinton hospitalized with sepsis We have a presidential leadership crisis — and it's only going to get worse MORE in a bid for the White House.
Before joining the Clinton White House, Podesta was a longtime staffer on Capitol Hill. He served as a counselor to Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and counsel to the majority staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He is also the co-founder of the Podesta Group, a multi-million dollar Washington lobbying firm.