Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta is the top choice to serve as White House chief of staff come January 2017, Politico reported Thursday. The choice of chief of staff will signal the presidential candidate’s expectations of her relationship with Congress, as well as her international plans.
A close Clinton ally told Politico that, on the campaign, Podesta was part of a small group of advisers the candidate “can already shorthand with.” Expectations are that should he agree to serve, it would be only for one year. “The question is can she convince him to do it for a year,” the source said, adding, “He could get the administration stabilized, and get hiring done.”
Podesta served as President Clinton’s Chief of Staff from 1998 until the end of Clinton’s time in office in January 2001.
As reflected from the thousands of his emails dumped by Wikileaks, Podesta is a great advocate of transparency, and has frequently criticized Hillary Clinton’s tendency for secrecy and cover-ups. In a 2004 speech at Princeton University, he condemned what he called the U.S. “excessive government secrecy” and “bloated secrecy bureaucracy.” He supported President Clinton’s Executive Order 12958 which helped declassify 800 million pages from the U.S. diplomatic and national security history. He called Executive Order 12958 “perhaps the biggest accomplishment of the Clinton administration.”
Podesta and Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s likely appointment for National Security Advisor (he is currently serving as Vice President Biden’s NSA), are considered friends of Israel, a fact supported by countless leaked emails. Podesta and Sullivan come across in these emails as associates of the pro-Israel circle of Hillary Clinton advisors, some of whom have been on close personal terms with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer. Dermer used their good services to communicate a message from Prime Minister Netanyahu to the presidential candidate, asking her to curb her enthusiasm in support of Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.
One particular leaked email exchange, between John Podesta and his daughter, Megan Rouse, offers an un-staged insight into the former’s stand on US-Israel relations. Rouse wrote her father: “I’ve heard a concern from some folks who care deeply about Israel that Hillary will be the president ‘most unfriendly to Israel in our history, worse than Obama.’ Thoughts on how I might respond in conversation?”
Podesta replied: “That’s a bit crazy. Obama developed a real feud with Bibi, but she has been a staunch defender of Israel since her Senate days. Probably her very best supporters are Haim Saban, and Danny Abraham who would not be with her if she wasn’t totally committed to Israeli security.”
Incidentally, Podesta would much rather serve in Hillary Clinton’s cabinet as energy secretary, and was behind President Obama’s climate initiatives. The problem is that getting the job would require Senate confirmation, a road paved with months and months of hearings on those nasty Wikileak emails bearing his name and address. Apparently, not all of them were as sweet as his exchange with Megan…