For the Sullivans, the Biden administration is a family affair – Politico

Posted By on June 7, 2021

With help from Allie Bice and Daniel Payne

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When Secretary of State ANTONY BLINKEN has traveled the globe to meet his counterparts from countries like Russia, India, Japan, South Korea and Canada, the seat next to him has been occupied by a quiet 40-ish-year-old Yale graduate with a fair complexion and a seemingly constant case of bed head.

At a certain angle, the senior Blinken aide could have been mistaken for the presidents national security adviser JAKE SULLIVAN. And for good reason. The aide is Jakes little brother, TOM SULLIVAN, who serves as deputy chief of staff for policy at the State Department (the same position he held at the end of the Obama administration).

The Sullivan family has become its own small web of power in the Biden administration. Besides Jake and Toms prominent roles, both of their spouses have senior positions at the Health and Human Services Department and the Justice Department, respectively.

Jakes wife, MAGGIE GOODLANDER, clerked for Supreme Court Justice STEPHEN BREYER and Judge MERRICK GARLAND before becoming counsel to Garland in the attorney generals office.

And ROSE SULLIVAN, who worked with Tom in Sen. AMY KLOBUCHARs office, is the principal deputy assistant secretary for legislation at HHS after a stint lobbying for companies like Google/Alphabet, Airbnb, CVS Health and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. (Her old lobbying firm KDCR Partners amended several disclosure filings in March to clarify she did not lobby HHS, which would have prevented her from taking the job under Bidens ethics rules.)

Tom also did a tour in the private sector during the Trump administration. He became the quasi-chief of staff for the international public policy team at Amazon under Obama administration alum DAVID ROTH and worked closely with SUSAN POINTER, Amazons vice president of international public policy and government affairs.

Former colleagues describe Tom as the ultimate D.C. staffer: competent, low-drama, press-shy, and gives one helluva briefing. He has an M.A. in international affairs from the University of Chicago and has worked under establishment luminaries like the late LES GELB, the former State and Defense department official who collaborated with Biden on issues like the Iraq war (the two were prominent champions of partitioning the country into three).

When Gelb was the president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, Tom worked for him as a research associate from 2003 to 2005, according to an archived State Department biography from the Obama administration.

In keeping with his reputation, Tom declined to comment through a State Department spokesperson. The department declined our requests to speak with Toms colleagues. They also didnt respond to requests to confirm his age. Hes so low-profile that his Legistorm profile has a picture of the wrong Tom Sullivan.

Tom, his wife, and Jake all come from Klobuchar-world. Tom, Jake and Rose are all Minnesota natives; Tom and Jakes father, DAN SULLIVAN, worked with Klobuchars father, the columnist JIM KLOBUCHAR, at the Star Tribune. At various points from 2007 to 2015, Jake was the senators chief counsel, Tom was her deputy chief of staff, and Rose served as her chief of staff.

At the outset of her presidential campaign in 2019, a number of news outlets published accounts by former staffers who alleged Klobuchar was an abusive boss. All three Sullivans signed a supportive open letter in response. We remain grateful for our time in Senator Klobuchars office and still consider Amy a mentor and friend, the letter from former Klobuchar staffers read. Sadly, this was not fully conveyed in the recent news reports.

The feeling appears to be mutual, as Klobuchar told us in an interview that she counts herself a huge Tom Sullivan fan.

Tom worked on Klobuchars 2006 Senate campaign in an extremely glamorous role driving the van behind the campaign bus in case it broke down, setting up chairs, etc. but he did it with aplomb, the senator recalled. After both Sullivans eventually followed Klobuchar to D.C., Tom became more interested in foreign affairs and accompanied her on many of her trips overseas. I guess I trained him for the Tony Blinken trips, she said.

The senator remembers one long Asia trip that included Republican Sens. JOHN McCAIN (Ariz.) and LINDSEY GRAHAM (S.C.). McCain often insisted on everyone eating together and was struck by how Sullivan, even in foreign locales, somehow stuck to Midwestern cuisine. Tom would always order the most Minnesota-type food, and McCain was always giving him grief, she said. You can have this, theyd have weird, who knows what, sushi and Tom would always be ordering, Ill have chicken and rice every time.

The quirky diet was a sign of character, she said.

To me it was just another example of his steadiness and just kind of the no-drama, does the work and does it for all the right reasons, Klobuchar said. He would always be able to get every answer throughout his time working for me in the Senate.

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EVERYTHING GOES WELL WITH DOUGHNUTS White House press secretary JEN PSAKI doesnt think you should chase your doughnut with a beer. While detailing the glut of promotions that governments, colleges and companies are offering to encourage people to get vaccinated, she noted that Anheuser-Busch even promised a free round if the country hit the Independence Day target of inoculating 70 percent of adults from Covid-19.

Weve seen Krispy Kreme has done this, Psaki said, referencing the doughnut purveyors much-discussed giveaway. I would not recommend a Krispy Kreme with a beer, but Ill leave that to other people to decide. (Wed be remiss not to note there is an entire subgenre of craft beer that mashes up sweets and suds.)

Its all part of the White Houses national month of action that will also include vaccinations at Black-owned barbershops and beauty salons, free babysitting from several of the largest child-care providers, and other enticements. White House chief of staff RON KLAIN seemed especially keen on the free beer, however, judging by his hyperactive Twitter feed.

As for Bidens goal? Its within reach, as roughly 63 percent of adults have gotten at least their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine thus far. From NICK NIEDZWIADEK

BIDENS TEMPORARY AMBASSADORS Its starting to look like a trend: The Biden administration is dispatching experienced diplomats to lead embassies on a temporary basis, NAHAL TOOSI tells us.

Theyre called chargs daffaires, and Biden has named at least four of them in the past five weeks to head the U.S. embassies in India, El Salvador, Qatar and Canada. Their selection suggests that the administration believes it will be some time many months, maybe before Senate-confirmed ambassadors can assume certain posts.

To be clear, dozens of embassies are currently led by chargs daffaires. Thats what you call whoever is left in charge when the ambassador is away. And President DONALD TRUMPs unusually large number of politically appointed ambassadors meant that an unusually large number of embassies lost their leaders once Trump left office.

Whats striking about Bidens new chargs daffaires is that theyre coming from outside the embassies theyre leading.

Take India. Biden considers India a critical partner in its faceoff with China and has pledged to help New Delhi tackle its Covid-19 crisis. As a result, his administration named DANIEL SMITH, a top diplomat who recently served as acting secretary of State, as the charg daffaires.

Asked for comment, a State Department spokesperson insisted that its common practice.

During times of transition the department sometimes chooses to leverage its deep bench of experienced career professionals to provisionally support diplomats on the ground and help the secretary accomplish the work of the American people, the spokesperson said.

SWEARING-IN OPTICS: A number of Biden officials have been creative with the books they swear-in on. Deputy Commerce Secretary DON GRAVES used a copy of the 13th Amendment gifted to his family by abolitionist Sen. CHARLES SUMNER. Vice President KAMALA HARRIS placed her hand on a Bible that THURGOOD MARSHALL, the first Black Supreme Court justice, once owned.

On Wednesday ERIC LANDER, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, was sworn in on a 500-year-old 13-page fragment of the first edition of the Mishnah ever created on a printing press, which he found while perusing the Library of Congress archives for swearing-in material, according to his office. A Jewish printer in the Kingdom of Naples operated the press.

REPARATIONS MUST WAIT Biden met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus after his speech marking the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre Tuesday, and told them he was not pushing for a commission on reparations right now, despite supporting the idea during the 2020 campaign, EUGENE DANIELS reports.

He didnt disagree with what we're doing, Rep. BRENDA LAWRENCE (D-Mich.), the CBCs second vice chair, told Eugene. He did talk about his plate [being] full with trying to get the infrastructure bill passed and that he really wanted to make sure that he could get that through before he took on anything else.

How Native Americans see Deb Haaland (NYTs Elizabeth Williamson)

A conversation with NIHs Francis Collins (The Atlantics Peter Wehner)

The conservative publishing industry has a Joe Biden problem (The Atlantics McKay Coppins)

Stimulus checks substantially reduced hardship, study shows (NYTs Jason DeParle)

Billionaires are racing to sidestep Bidens plan to raise their taxes (Voxs Theodore Schleifer)

Science chief wants next pandemic vaccine ready in 100 days (APs Seth Borenstein)

He delivered remarks regarding the pandemic and vaccination progress at the South Court Auditorium. Later, he met with Sen. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO (R-W.Va.) to talk about bipartisan infrastructure negotiations. They're set to speak again on Friday.

He and first lady JILL BIDEN traveled to Rehoboth Beach, Del., for the evening. (FYI, it's Jill's bday tomorrow).

She swore in Lander to be the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the vice presidents ceremonial office.

Eric Lander and his family | Courtesy of the office of Office of Science and Technology Policy

OSTP sent along this photo of Lander and his family with Library of Congress specialist ANN BRENER (who discovered and catalogued the 500-year-old text) viewing the text in person for the first time.

TIM WU, a member on Bidens National Economic Council, coined the term net neutrality back in 2003, defining the phrase in a paper entitled, Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination.

And back in 2016, he tried to explain the concept to late night show host STEPHEN COLBERT while riding a rollercoaster.

While almost out of breath from the intensity of the Nitro roller coaster at Six Flags, Wu explained it as the idea that all traffic on the Internet should be treated the same.

But despite Wus best efforts, Colbert still didnt quite grasp the concept.

When the ride was over, he asked: As far as I could tell, net neutrality means that I should be neutral about the net. I shouldnt take sides, right?

Not quite, Wu said, stifling a laugh.

The full clip is worth the watch.

Weve previously reported on Wus hot takes regarding the best hot springs, fruits, airports and more. What about rollercoasters, Tim?

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Edited by Emily Cadei

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For the Sullivans, the Biden administration is a family affair - Politico

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