Could you explain in simple terms what are the functions of the WH chief of staff and provide the job's analogs in other countries? Is it like the head of the presidential administration (in the European sense of the word 'administration', not in the American meaning of "the government")?


1 Answer 1


The official title of the role is Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, which perhaps helps give some insight into the role. It is a political appointment, initially created by an executive order made by Eisenhower in 1953, appointees to which are selected solely by the President, and has no specific codified duties as such. As a consequence of this, these duties tend to change depending on the serving President's demands, but the role generally encompasses a range of advisory and managerial aspects.

For example, the duties of the previous acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, included managing the President's schedule and overseeing access to him in the Oval Office, working towards the agenda of the President by negotiating with both Congress and the rest of the executive, and providing advice to the President on policy matters. The Chief of Staff is also responsible for and in charge of all staff working in the White House.

As far as analogous roles in other countries go, the position's amorphous duties makes this hard to answer, but the role is roughly equivalent to positions in the UK such as the Chief Advisor to the Prime Minister, the Chief Whip, the Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, and the Cabinet Secretary. All of these positions have duties which are currently carried out by the Chief of Staff.

  • What does 'in charge' mean (of course, I know this expression)? Does it mean that Chief of Staff can fire anyone working in the White House on their own? Mar 8, 2020 at 9:49
  • @SergeyZolotarev Yes, for example when Omarosa Manigault Newman was fired in 2017, it was John F. Kelly who did so. Realistically, it was probably discussed and agreed on with the President, but the responsibility lies with the Chief of Staff.
    – CDJB
    Mar 8, 2020 at 9:54
  • He, I recall, called her and made out that he had no idea of her removal. Apparently, he just played dumb, didn't he?, though technically it was possible, wasn't it? Doesn't a potus have to sign off on his employees' dismissals? Mar 8, 2020 at 10:07
  • @SergeyZolotarev From the transcript of the tape she recorded, she asks "is the president aware of what's going on?", followed by Kelly saying that "the staff and everyone on the staff works for me and not the president". This would seem to imply that although the President was consulted and gave his approval of the firing in this specific case, it remains within the gift of the Chief of Staff to dismiss staff unilaterally.
    – CDJB
    Mar 8, 2020 at 10:12

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