Person

Ronald Klain

Ron Klain May 2009 (link)
Nationality:

American

Occupation:

Lawyer

Political Operative

Political Party:

Democratic Party

Ronald A. Klain is a lawyer and long-time Democratic Party operative serving since 2021 as the White House Chief of Staff in the Biden administration. Klain previously worked as Chief of Staff to former Vice President Al Gore and was a top aide to then-Vice President Joe Biden. In November 2020, then-President-elect Biden selected Klain to as White House Chief of Staff. [1]

Early Career

Ron Klain graduated from Harvard Law School, where he was the editor of the Harvard Law Review, in 1985. [2] From 1987 to 1988, Klain worked as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron White. From 1989 to 1992, he advised then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) as chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. [3]

Klain served as an associate counsel to former President Bill Clinton when he took office in 1992 and oversaw the selection process for judicial nominees. Klain later became Chief of Staff to Vice President Al Gore. Following the contested election of 2000, Klain served as general counsel for former Vice President Gore’s recount committee. In the early 2000s, Klain spent several years as a partner at the law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP, then joined the investment firm Revolution, LLC in 2005. [4] He was also registered as a lobbyist for the mortgage firm Fannie Mae until 2005. [5]

Obama Administration

Ron Klain was a member of former President Barack Obama’s transition team and joined the Obama administration as Chief of Staff to Vice President Biden. [6] In 2010, Klain supported the Obama administration’s decision to invest government funds in the now-bankrupt solar panel manufacturer Solyndra. Email correspondence between administration officials shows that Klain expressed some concern about government investments in Solyndra but also argued that “the company should be strong … with their new facilities online.”  Klain also wrote that the consequences of a potential Solyndra bankruptcy would be minimal, suggesting that it was normal for some companies to fail even with government support. [7]

In October 2014, President Obama appointed Klain to oversee the federal government’s response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak. Several Republican members of Congress criticized the decision to appoint Klain, citing his lack of healthcare or emergency management experience. Administration officials argued that Klain was selected for his administration skills, despite lacking any expertise in infectious diseases. [8]

Trump Presidency

Following the end of his appointment as the White House Ebola Response Coordinator in February 2014, Klain became an advisor to the Skoll Global Threats Fund, a grantmaking organization affiliated with the Skoll Foundation, which funds projects that promotes environmentalism and other left-of-center causes. [9] He returned to Revolution LLC as general counsel and rose to the position of executive vice president. [10] According to ABC News, Klain received a $2 million salary from the firm in 2020 before President Biden selected him as White House Chief of Staff. [11]

In September 2018, Klain endorsed the unproven allegations of sexual harassment against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. He also endorsed similar unproven allegations against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, whose nomination process he observed as chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991. [12]

In January 2020, Klain wrote an article attacking then-President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Klain criticized what he described as Trump’s “isolationist instincts” while also admitting that all early cases of the virus in the United States were “the product of travel to China.” He also criticized President Trump’s response to the 2017 Ebola outbreak in Congo, when the president withdrew American forces from the disease “hot zone.” Nonetheless, Klain acknowledged that President Trump authorized deployment of personnel from the United States Agency for International Development  (USAID) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help fight the disease. Klain suggested that heads of federal agencies would prefer that President Trump not exercise his power as chief executive and instead let the bureaucracy handle the pandemic. [13]

In March 2020, as the spread of the pandemic in the United States accelerated, Klain claimed that President Trump’s lack of action in January and February was to blame for businesses and workplaces being shut down. Numerous conservatives criticized Klain on social media, citing his previous comments that had criticized President Trump for shutting down travel from China. These included the claim that it would be “impossible to cut off the flow of people from China,” despite the fact that President Trump banned travel from China and Europe just a week later. [14] Klain had also advised people to “buy a meal, go shopping” and visit Chinatowns, writing “let’s fight the disease AND let’s fight prejudice.” [15]

Biden Administration

In November 2020, then-President-elect Joe Biden selected Klain to serve as White House Chief of Staff. President Biden cited his extensive time working with Klain as justification, claiming that they  had “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.” [16] That same month, Klain spoke on a panel at Texas A&M University, where he said that the Obama administration “did every possible thing wrong” during the 2009 swine flu outbreak. [17]

References

  1.        Ron Klain. Biography.com. Accessed April 30, 2021. https://www.biography.com/political-figure/ron-klain ^
  2.             Ron Klain. Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service. Accessed April 30, 2021. https://web.archive.org/web/20160816214549/http://politics.georgetown.edu/ron-klain/ ^
  3.             Ron Klain. Biography.com. Accessed April 30, 2021. https://www.biography.com/political-figure/ron-klain ^
  4.       Ron Klain. Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service. Accessed April 30, 2021. https://web.archive.org/web/20160816214549/http://politics.georgetown.edu/ron-klain/ ^
  5.        Matthew Mosk. “Some Former Lobbyists Have Key Roles in Obama Transition.” Washington Post. November 15, 2008. Accessed April 30, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/14/AR2008111403922.html ^
  6.             Matthew Mosk. “Some Former Lobbyists Have Key Roles in Obama Transition.” Washington Post. November 15, 2008. Accessed April 30, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/14/AR2008111403922.html ^
  7.             Aamer Madhani. “E-mails show White House worried about Solyndra deal.” USA Today. October 3, 2011. Accessed April 30, 2021. http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2011/10/e-mails-show-white-house-worried-about-solyndra-deal/1#.YIxVmbWu5Pb ^
  8.        Jake Miller. “GOP: Ebola “czar” Ron Klain steeped in politics, not medicine.” CBS News. October 19, 2014. Accessed April 30, 2021. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/gop-ebola-czar-ron-klain-steeped-in-politics-not-medicine/ ^
  9.             Ron Klain. “The Growing Zika Threat–and Congress’s Inaction.” Wall Street Journal. August 2, 2016. Accessed April 30, 2021. https://www.wsj.com/articles/BL-WB-64824 ^
  10.             Ronald Klain. The Atlantic. Accessed April 30, 2021. https://www.theatlantic.com/author/ron-klain/ ^
  11.        Soo Rin Kim and Libby Cathey. Obama-era officials return to White House worth millions. ABC News. March 21, 2021. Accessed April 30, 2021. https://abcnews.go.com/US/obama-era-officials-return-white-house-worth-millions/story?id=76582015 ^
  12.         Ronald Klain. Twitter. September 27, 2018. Accessed April 30, 2021.

    ^

  13.        Ronald Klain. “Coronavirus Is Coming—And Trump Isn’t Ready.” The Atlantic. January 30, 2020. Accessed April 30, 2021. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/01/now-trump-needs-deep-state-fight-coronavirus/605752/ ^
  14.        Tom Elliot. Twitter. March 26, 2020. Accessed April 30, 2021. https://twitter.com/tomselliott/status/1243181100350033921 ^
  15.        Reagan Battalion. Twitter. March 26, 2020. Accessed April 30, 2021. https://twitter.com/ReaganBattalion/status/1243183004496867331 ^
  16.        Thomas Barrabi. “Biden selects Ronald Klain as White House chief of staff.” Fox News. November 11, 2020. Accessed April 30, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/biden-selects-ronald-klain-white-house-chief-of-staff ^
  17.         “Ron Klain says Obama admin did ‘every possible thing wrong’ on H1N1.” Yahoo News. November 11, 2020. Accessed April 30, 2021. https://news.yahoo.com/ron-klain-says-obama-admin-015941033.html ^
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