What does a White House chief of staff do? 5 things to know

Source: AP
Source: AP

It's been almost a week since Donald Trump won the presidential election, and the president-elect will have some tough decisions to make in the weeks ahead, even before he assumes office. Trump is currently in the process of selecting his cabinet members. On Sunday, Trump announced a vital pick: current Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus to fill the role of chief of staff.

Priebus has proven himself capable to fill the role. During the presidential campaign, Priebus reportedly helped Trump hone in on and temper his message to voters.

But what exactly does a chief of staff actually do? Here's some key responsibilities of the job.

Manager of the Executive Office of the President

The chief of staff position in the White House was created in 1939 during President Franklin Roosevelt's administration, and is tasked with overseeing the Executive Office of the President.

The EOP includes a long list of officeholders, and the chief of staff is charged with making sure each and every one of them has access to the president, according to the Wall Street Journal. Some positions in this office include the president's communications staff, their political directors and various other roles that comprise the president's inner circle.

Executive "bouncer"

The chief of staff also directs which information makes it to the president's desk. They limit who can speak to the president and for what purpose, as well as the duration of the meeting.

By limiting access to the president, the chief of staff frees up the president's day. Of course, this gateway to the president has led to some political favoritism in the past as well.

Reince Priebus
Source: 
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Top adviser

The chief of staff is also seen as a principal adviser to the president on matters related to both policy issues as well as political matters. They have been given a position with a high degree of trust. With that trust, the chief of staff is often the last person the president will seek counsel from before making an important decision that affects their policy agenda.

The chief of staff is able to fulfill this role because they are in frequent contact with the agenda makers in Congress and within the president's cabinet. As the main point of contact for the president, they often have access to the most information, and can provide a valuable piece of advice to the president based off of what they've heard from others.

Soother of bruised egos

Naturally, the president cannot make time for everyone, and often this means that agendas of certain government officials may be backtracked — or, at times, ignored entirely.

When high government officials get frustrated with the president's lack of interest or time for them, the chief of staff can serve as a consoler of sorts, assuring those who don't always make the cut into the president's time that they do matter — just not at this moment.

RNC chair Reince Priebus and Speaker Paul Ryan
Source: 
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Plan executor

The chief of staff is charged with controlling the information that comes into the Oval Office. But they are also charged with executing a plan from the president. This requires consulting with cabinet members and legislative leaders in Congress in order to pass the president's agenda. The chief of staff must have the ability to assuage the concerns of those working with the president to make a deal go through Congress fast, or to make certain a cabinet secretary understands their role in a crucial executive order.

A president needs someone who can work with both the president-elect and his surrogates. That person needs to be able to complete several essential roles, every day, in order to execute the vision of the president.

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Chris Walker

Chris Walker is a news writer for Mic based out of Madison, Wisconsin. Reach him directly at cwalker@mic.com.

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