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A number of President Biden’s senior officials have relatives or spouses working for the administration — apparently not subject to Biden’s rule that “No one in our family and extended family is going to be involved in any government undertaking or foreign policy.”
Secretary of State Tony Blinken, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and White House press secretary Jen Psaki each have one direct family member working for the federal government.
In addition to them, top White House staffers such as senior adviser Anita Dunn, counselor Steve Richetti, deputy chief of staff Bruce Reed and Presidential Personnel Office director Cathy Russell each have at least one family member employed by the administration.
In Psaki’s case, her sister, Stephanie Psaki, serves as a senior adviser within the Department of Health and Human Services.
She took on her new role, where her official title is senior adviser on human rights and gender equity in the Office of Global Affairs, this March.
The Psaki who works at HHS has a Ph.D. in public health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She previously worked at the Population Council, a nonprofit conducting research and building research capabilities in developing countries.
Blinken, the nation’s top diplomat, is married to Evan Ryan, who serves as White House cabinet secretary.
The cabinet secretary serves as the main point of contact between the White House and the other departments and agencies in the federal government. Unlike Blinken’s position, the job does not require Senate approval.
Ryan, like her husband, is an Obama administration alumna who served then-Vice President Biden. She worked not only for Obama and Biden, but also for the State Department as an assistant secretary for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
After leaving the Obama administration, she joined Axios as an executive vice president.
With regard to Sullivan, working in the administration appears to be a family affair. His wife, younger brother and sister-in-law are all employed by the Biden administration.
Maggie Goodlander, Sullivan’s better half, works in the Justice Department as counsel to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
She had previously clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, as well as Garland in his capacity as chief justice on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
His brother, Tom Sullivan, is serving in the same position he held during the Obama years: deputy chief of staff for policy at the State Department.
Rose Baumann Sullivan — Tom Sullivan’s wife and the national security adviser’s sister-in-law — serves as acting assistant secretary for legislation at HHS. Previously, she served as a lobbyist for companies such as Verizon, CVS Health and Alphabet, the parent company of Google.
Close friends and family members of the powerful securing their own desirable positions is nothing new in Washington.
Former President Donald Trump appointed his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as senior advisers.
However, the first daughter and her husband did not take a salary during their time in the White House and saw their personal income drop more than 20 percent in the final years of the Trump presidency.
In addition to the Trump family, some notable members of the administration were married or related to others employed by the federal government.
Rep. Liz Cheney, then a private citizen, was appointed under President George W. Bush and her father, Vice President Dick Cheney, to serve as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs.
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