Jake Sullivan




National Security Advisor, Biden Administration

Co-Founder, National Security Action

Former Senior Policy Advisor, Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign (2008, 2016)

Former National Security Advisor, Vice President Joe Biden

Former Director of Policy Planning, U.S. State Department

Former Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

Jacob Jeremiah “Jake” Sullivan is a prominent Democratic foreign policy professional who serves as National Security Advisor in the Biden Administration.1 Sullivan held several positions in the Obama Administration, initially as deputy chief of staff to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and later as national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden and director of policy planning at the State Department. 2

Jake Sullivan played a key role as policy advisor to the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries and the 2016 elections and to Barack Obama in the 2008 general election. 3 4 It was speculated that Sullivan would have been considered for the position of U.S. National Security Advisor had Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election. 5

Sullivan has been a vocal critic of former president Donald Trump’s foreign policy. 6 7

National Security Action

After Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 Presidential election to Donald Trump, Sullivan co-founded and co-chaired National Security Action (NSA), a left-leaning policy advocacy group composed primarily of former Obama administration staffers. Sullivan worked with NSA to train 2020 Democratic Party presidential candidates on foreign policy8 9 and oppose foreign policies of the Trump administration. 10

National Security Action actively supported efforts to impeach President Trump. NSA created a website to promote impeachment and anti-Trump views11and was identified as having funded television ads to pressure Republican U.S. Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) to support impeaching President Trump. 12

National Security Action also sent a petition to Congress encouraging the impeachment of Trump. The petition was signed by over 300 former national security officials, most of whom had worked in the Obama administration. 13

Foreign Policy Controversies

Iran Nuclear Deal

While working at the State Department, Sullivan played a key role in negotiating the controversial 2015 nuclear weapons development agreement between the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Unites States and five other world powers. 14 The agreement was intended to restrict Iranian development of nuclear weapons in exchange for removal of economic sanctions against Iran. It was harshly criticized by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as a threat to Israel’s security. 15 Criticism of the deal in the U.S. crossed traditional party lines,16 and many argued it would fail to stop Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, instead bolstering Iran’s economic ability to build such weapons. 17

President Trump removed the United States from the agreement in 2018, an action Sullivan has criticized. 18

Benghazi Attacks and Clinton Email Scandal

At the time of the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, Sullivan was a State Department official under then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In 2015, he was called to testify before the U.S. House Select Committee on Benghazi. 19  Sullivan’s testimony became part of the Committee’s final report that concluded Clinton and Sullivan may have sent highly classified information using unsecured private emails rather than through secure government servers. 20 21An FBI investigation into the matter recommended no criminal charges. 22

Domestic Policy Views

Sullivan is left-leaning on domestic policy as well as foreign policy. In 2018, Sullivan argued the American public was increasingly receptive to a bigger, more active role for government in economic and social affairs. He called for the Democratic Party to promote increased power for labor unions, higher taxes, increased regulation of private business, taxpayer-paid child care, and taxpayer-paid higher education. 23


Jake Sullivan married Maggie Goodlander in 2015. Goodlander previously worked as a national security and foreign affairs adviser to former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT). 24


  1. “Jake Sullivan.” Yale Jackson School of Global Affairs. Accessed June 7, 2024. Available at:
  2. Foreign Policy. “Search”. “Jake Sullivan”. Accessed January 6, 2020.
  3. Reporter. “Clinton’s policy director ‘was the only one in her inner circle that had warned her she would likely lose the election but everyone ignored him’”. Daily Mail. December 11, 2016. Accessed January 6, 2020.
  4. “Jake Sullivan”.Accessed January 6, 2020.
  5. Landler, Mark. “Biden Adviser Leaving Washington, but It May Not Be for Long”. New York Times. June 20, 2014. Accessed January 6, 2020.
  6. Schiavenza, Matt. “Clinton Policy Advisor: Trump a ‘Dangerous Proposition’ as Commander in Chief”. Asia Society. May 16, 2016. Accessed January 6, 2020.
  7. Chotiner, Isaac. “Inventing a Post-Trump Foreign Policy: An Interview with the Former Obama Adviser Jake Sullivan”. The New Yorker. February 12, 2019. Accessed January 6, 2020.
  8. Shinkman, Paul D. “Trump Says He’ll Fight for Ratcliffe to Offset Spy Agencies ‘Run Amok’”. US New & World Report. July 30, 2019. Accessed January 6, 2020.
  9. Wright, Thomas. “Democrats Need to Place China at the Center of Their Foreign Policy”. The Atlantic. May 14, 2019. Accessed January 6, 2020.
  10. Lima, Christiano. “Obama alums form group to target ‘reckless’ Trump foreign policy”. Politico. February 27, 2018. Accessed January 6, 2020.
  11. “About”. Accessed January 6, 2020.
  12. Seidman, Andrew. “‘Stop putting politics ahead of our country’ on Trump impeachment, veterans tell GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick in new ad”. Philadelphia Enquirer. November 7, 2019. Accessed January 6, 2020.
  13. Stracqualursi, Veronica. “Hundreds of ex-national security officials support impeachment inquiry into Trump”. CNN. September 27, 2019. Accessed January 6, 2020.
  14. Landler, Mark. “Biden Adviser Leaving Washington, but It May Not Be for Long”. New York Times. June 20, 2014. Accessed January 6, 2020.

  15. Lewis, Ori. “Netanyahu tells Obama Iran deal threatens Israel; to convene top ministers”. Reuters. April 3, 2015. Accessed January 6, 2020.
  16. Cohen, Tom. “5 reasons diverse critics oppose Iran nuclear deal”. CNN. November 25, 2013.  Accessed January 6, 2020.
  17. Gerecht, Reuel Marc. “The Iran Deal Is Strategically and Morally Absurd”. The Atlantic. May 4, 2018. Accessed January 6, 2020.
  18. Burns, William J; Sullivan, Jake. “We Led Successful Negotiations With Iran. Trump’s Approach Isn’t Working.”. Atlantic. May 16, 2019. Accessed through Accessed January 6, 2020.
  19. Ballotpedia. “Jake Sullivan”. Accessed January 6, 2020.
  20. Schmidt, Michael S. “Judge Says Hillary Clinton Didn’t Follow Government Email Policies”. New York Times. August 20, 2015. Accessed January 6, 2020.
  21. Flores, Reena. “In email, Hillary Clinton tells aide to send talking points ‘nonsecure’”. CBS News. January 8, 2016. Accessed January 6, 2020.
  22. Zurcher, Anthony. “Hillary Clinton emails – what’s it all about?”. British Broadcasting Corp. November 6, 2016. Accessed January 6, 2020.
  23. Sullivan, Jake. “The New Old Democrats”. Democracy. June 20, 2018. Accessed January 6, 2020.
  24. Bennett, Kate. “Every wedding should have a Hillary Clinton Bible reading”. Politico. June 11, 2015. Accessed January 6, 2020.
  See an error? Let us know!