Who is the U.S. official with the highest position within the U.S. government who has dual citizenship? I was thinking of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I am not sure if he's the highest ranked, and I am not sure if he's still an Austrian citizen.

Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger (born July 30, 1947) is an Austrian and American actor, businessman, filmmaker, former politician, and former professional bodybuilder best known for his roles in high-profile action movies. He served as the 38th governor of California from 2003 to 2011 and was among Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in 2004 and 2007.[5][6]


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    To address the unceertainty regarding Arnold Schwarzenegger - yes, he did indeed hold a dual citizenship during his term as Governor. E.g. a (German language) newspaper comment in "Wiener Zeitung" from that time mentioning this fact (and discussing whether he might loose the Austrian citizenship for his actions as American politician): wienerzeitung.at/h/burger-arnold-aus-mit-doppelt
    – Hulk
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 4:24
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    @Hulk a state governor is not an official of the United States. But he was a Chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports in 1990.
    – wrod
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 6:06

2 Answers 2


"Highest position" is somewhat arbitrary (is the Speaker of the House higher ranking than the Attorney General?) so I'll go by the presidential line of succession.

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm was born in Vancouver and became an American citizen in 1980. In this 2010 interview on Fox News she claims to have dual citizenship.

Additionally, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland is an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo, a federally recognized tribe. This makes her a citizen of that tribe as well, although that is probably not the dual citizenship you refer to. If you count her she would be higher ranking.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas also became a US citizen later in life but I haven't found any indication that he still holds Cuban citizenship. Given the fact that his family came to the US after the revolution when he was just one year old, probably not.

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    These are good finds! I was curious about this a few months ago, and could find very few instances of dual citizenship in U.S. Federal government. Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 11:35
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    It should be pointed out that in the event of a naturalized U.S. Citizen in the Cabinet, they are ineligible for the office of president, even if they are the next in line due to chain of succession, which if it gets down to cabinet secretaries, Granholm would be the highest by the definition (federal tribal Citizens are U.S. Citizens) followed by Mayorkas. As discussed elsewhere, theoretically, nothing prevents the President of the United States from having dual citizenship, so long as their U.S. Citizenship is birth right and not naturalized citizenship.
    – hszmv
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 18:52
  • Additionally, the Constitution has an explicit carve out for those who were not birthright citizens but were birthright citizens their place of birth's legal entry into the United States as a territory of the United States but this doesn't apply to anyone with a pulse at time of writing. It did apply to such notable presidents as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson among other Founding Father Presidents.
    – hszmv
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 18:56
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    @chux-ReinstateMonica: Nitpick: Hamilton was born in Nevis (in the Leeward Islands/Lesser Antilles), not Haiti. Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 1:36
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    @chux-ReinstateMonica none of the founding fathers were natural born citizens'of the United States because citizenship of the United States didn't exist when they were born. This exception didn't apply only to Hamilton but also to Washington, Jefferson, both Adamses, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, and Harrison, not to mention many unsuccessful candidates.
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 10:09

I'll go with Former Whitehouse Chief of staff to President Obama Rahm Emanuel.

  • current U.S. ambassador to Japan
  • former Senior Advisor to President Clinton
  • former White House Director of Political Affairs
  • former Mayor of Chicago.

He holds US and Israeli citizenship.

What does the Chief of Staff Do?

The Chief of staff can summon other cabinet officials to the Whitehouse and give them instruction. His words are as if they came from the President. Because they do. The COS's job is to speak for the president in the executive, act for the president, schedule the president, decide which meetings to handle himself and which meetings the President should handle, and make sure all the other cabinet ministers are doing the president's will. No other Cabinet official works as closely with the President, has the same cross over dept authority. No other Cabinet official can even meet with the President without scheduling it with his Chief of Staff first including the VP. If the COS wants to see the President he doesn't have to schedule it, he doesn't have to go through one of the President's secretaries in his outer office, all the COS has to do is open a single door in his office and walk directly into the Oval office.

Unlike any other Cabinet official the Chief of Staff is in on every decision the President makes. He is the President's Senior Advisor, the other 12 senior advisors to the president report to him. He is the most senior political appointee at the White House. In the Trump and Biden Administrations the Chief of Staff sat/sits at the head of the Cabinet table. He sits in the situation room where some other Cabinet officials are absent. He sits on the National Security Council too.

The Chief of staff is literally the #2 guy in any administration. Not the VP, Sec Defense, or Sec of State.

The VP job is a rather weak position. It is as important or unimportant as the President decides. President Kennedy famously gave Vice President Johnson no responsibility in his administration. President Bush Jr gave Dick Cheney great responsibility in his first term and then took away much of that authority in his second term. Typically the VP job is chosen to balance the ticket geographically or politically. Typically the VP is chosen among the President's political rivals, and even if they aren't the VP job is generally a front runner for the party ticket one the President leaves office. They are not necessarily trusted inside an administration, as they can have their own team, agenda, and own political interests.

The Speaker of the house and Majority Leader in the senate are as or more powerful than the COS in government perhaps. The COS is the #2 job in the Executive. In influence, power, authority, and importance at least while the President lives.

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    "Chief of Staff is considered as a higher position than a Cabinet official" by whom? First Lady or even father/brother of the President has considerable influence but would you argue it's higher than a Cabinet official? How would you quantify influence?
    – Stuart F
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 16:32
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    As the other answer suggests, there isn't a single dimension. CoS has quite a bit of power, but so do the Cabinet officials, each in theor own dominions.
    – Barmar
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 17:25
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    @StuartF, Who would you say is more influential? The head of a Dept under the Executive or the head of the Executive Office of the President? Given The Chief of staff is the most senior political appointee in the white house. Cabinet officials get their power from the President. The closest cabinet member is the Chief of Staff. He literally is the closest, Office next door. He also works most closely and has broader authority than any other cabinet official.
    – JMS
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 17:30
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    @Therac-StandwithPalestine / JMS: the CoS may have more power than certain cabinet officials but does not have higher rank. The CoS has soft power that is largely derived from a capacity to influence the president's agenda. The CoS is not subject to senate confirmation. The CoS position is not established by act of congress. The CoS doesn't have the same level of control over congressionally appropriated budget appropriations, etc., etc.
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 10:32
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    @Therac-StandwithPalestine that doesn’t make them one of the highest ranking officials in the country.
    – Joe W
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 14:52

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