The Full Wiki

White House Chief of Staff: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

White House Chief of Staff
Rahm Emanuel

since 20 January 2009
Formation 1946 (Assistant to the President)
1961 (White House Chief of Staff)
Succession None; Cabinet Rank only
Website The White House

The White House Chief of Staff is the highest ranking member of the Executive Office of the President of the United States and a senior aide to the President. The office-holder has been dubbed "The Second-Most Powerful Man in Washington" due to the nature of the job.[1]

The current White House Chief of Staff is Rahm Emanuel, serving in this position since January 20, 2009, when President Barack Obama was inaugurated.[2]



The duties of the White House Chief of Staff vary greatly from one administration to another. However, the Chief of Staff has been responsible for overseeing the actions of the White House staff, managing the president's schedule, and deciding who is allowed to meet with the president. Because of these duties, the Chief of Staff has at various times been labeled "The Gatekeeper" and "The Co-President".

Originally, the duties now performed by the Chief of Staff belonged to the President's private secretary and was fulfilled by crucial confidants and advisers like George B. Cortelyou, Joseph Tumulty, and Louis McHenry Howe. [3 ] This person served as the President's chief aide in a role that combined personal and professional assignments of highly delicate and demanding natures, requiring great skill and discretion[4] The job of gatekeeper and overseeing the President's schedule was separately delegated to the Appointments Secretary, as with FDR's aide Edwin "Pa" Watson.

From 1933 to 1939, as he greatly expanded the scope of the federal government's policies and powers in response to the Great Depression, Roosevelt relied on his "Brains Trust" of top advisers. Although working directly for the President, they were often appointed to vacant positions in agencies and departments, from whence they drew their salaries since the White House lacked statutory or budgetary authority to create new staff positions. It wasn't until 1939, during Franklin D. Roosevelt's second term in office, that the foundations of the modern White House staff were created using a formal structure. Roosevelt was able to get Congress to approve the creation of the Executive Office of the President reporting directly to the President which included the White House Office.

In 1946, in response to the rapid growth of the U.S. government's executive branch, the position of Assistant to the President of the United States was established. Charged with the affairs of the White House it was the immediate predecessor to the modern Chief of Staff. It was in 1961, under Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, that the president's pre-eminent assistant was designated the White House Chief of Staff.

Assistant to the President became a rank generally shared by the Chief of Staff with such senior aides as Deputy Chiefs of Staff, the White House Counsel, the White House Press Secretary, and others. This new system didn't catch on straight away. Democrats Kennedy and Johnson still relied on their Appointments Secretaries instead and it was not until the Nixon administration that the Chief of Staff become a permanent fixture in the White House.

The average term-of-service for a White House Chief of Staff is a little under 2.5 years. John R. Steelman, under Harry S. Truman, was the last Chief of Staff to serve for an entire presidential administration. Steelman also holds the record for longest-serving Chief of Staff (six years). Andrew Card and Sherman Adams tie for second-longest (five years each).

Most White House Chiefs of Staff are former politicians, and many continue their political careers in other senior roles. Richard Nixon's Chief of Staff Alexander Haig became Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan. Gerald Ford's Chief of Staff Dick Cheney became a U.S. Representative for Wyoming, Secretary of Defense under George H. W. Bush and vice president under George W. Bush (in which capacity Cheney served as Acting President on two occasions under the provisions of the 25th Amendment, when Bush was briefly incapacitated during medical procedures). Donald Rumsfeld was another Chief of Staff for the Ford administration and subsequently served as Secretary of Defense in the Ford administration and decades later in the George W. Bush administration.


The roles of the Chief of Staff are both managerial and advisory and can include the following

  • Select key White House staff and supervise them
  • Structure the White House staff system
  • Control the flow of people into the Oval Office
  • Manage the flow of information
  • Protect the interests of the President
  • Negotiate with Congress, other members of the executive branch, and extragovernmental political groups to implement the President's agenda

It is possible that a powerful Chief of Staff with a "hands-off" president (who decides not to become involved in the minutiae of government), can become a de facto Prime Minister. Such prime ministers exist in some governmental systems: The prime minister runs the government (operations-wise), while the president remains somewhat aloof from the political process, but personally handling policy matters. Richard Nixon's first Chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman, garnered a reputation in Washington for the iron hand he wielded in the position — famously referring to himself as "the President's son-of-a-bitch," he was a rigid gatekeeper who would frequently meet with administration officials in place of the President, then report himself to Nixon on the officials' talking points. Journalist Bob Woodward, in his books All the President's Men and The Secret Man, wrote that many of his sources, including the famous Deep Throat, displayed a genuine fear of Haldeman.[5][6]

By contrast, Andrew Card, President George W. Bush's first Chief of Staff, was not regarded as being as powerful. It has been speculated that this was due to Card being "overshadowed" by the influence of Karl Rove, the Senior Adviser and Deputy Chief of Staff who was "the architect" of Bush's political rise.[7]

List of White House Chiefs of Staff


Deputy Chiefs of Staff

The Chief of Staff is assisted by one or more Deputy Chiefs of Staff. Under the Obama Administration, these roles are filled by Jim Messina and Mona Sutphen. During the George W. Bush Administration, Joel Kaplan held this title for Policy. Karl Rove preceded Kaplan in this role until April 19, 2006 when (then-new) Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten added his former Deputy Director of the OMB to the Deputies list. Rove left the White House officially on August 31, 2007. Joe Hagin is the former Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations.

See also


  1. ^ "Transcript for July 23". Meet the Press. 2006-07-23. pp. 6. Retrieved 2008-11-06.  
  2. ^ Richard Cowan and Sandra Maler, "Emanuel expected to bring 'tough-minded' approach to White House" CNN, November 6, 2008, (accessed November 6, 2008)
  3. ^ "New Quarters". Time. 1934-12-17.,9171,748188-2,00.html. Retrieved 2008-05-08.  
  4. ^ An Appointment, Time, 1923-08-20,,9171,716345,00.html?iid=digg_share, retrieved 2009-05-09  
  5. ^ Woodward, Bob, and Bernstein, Carl. (1974) All the President's Men. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9780671217815
  6. ^ Woodward, Bob. (2005). The Secret Man. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-8715-0
  7. ^ "Karl Rove: The Architect - Interview: Dana Milbank". Frontline. 2005-04-12. Retrieved 2008-11-06.  

Simple English

File:Rahm Emanuel, official photo portrait
Rahm Emanuel, the current White House Chief of Staff.

The White House Chief of Staff is the highest-ranking member of the Executive Office of the President of the United States and a senior aide to the President.

List of White House Chiefs of Staff

# Chief President Years
1 John R. Steelman Harry Truman 1946–1952
2 Sherman Adams Dwight Eisenhower 1953–1958
3 Wilton Persons 1958–1961
- vacant John F. Kennedy 1961–1963
u/o W. Marvin Watson Lyndon Johnson 1963–1968
u/o Jim Jones 1968
4 H. R. Haldeman Richard Nixon 1969–1973
5 Alexander Haig 1973–1974
6 Donald Rumsfeld Gerald Ford 1974–1975
7 Dick Cheney 1975–1977
- vacant Jimmy Carter 1977–1979
8 Hamilton Jordan 1979–1980
9 Jack Watson 1980–1981
10 James Baker Ronald Reagan 1981–1985
11 Donald Regan 1985–1987
12 Howard Baker 1987–1988
13 Kenneth Duberstein 1988–1989
14 John H. Sununu George H. W. Bush 1989–1991
15 Samuel K. Skinner 1991–1992
16 James Baker 1992–1993
17 Mack McLarty Bill Clinton 1993–1994
18 Leon Panetta 1994–1997
19 Erskine Bowles 1997–1998
20 John Podesta 1998–2001
21 Andrew Card George W. Bush 2001–2006
22 Joshua Bolten 2006–2009
23 Rahm Emanuel Barack Obama 2009-


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address