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    US President Barack Obama holds a year-end press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, December 16, 2016

    Job Rush: Obama Fills Official Positions With Pals

    © AFP 2019 / SAUL LOEB
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    As the loaders pack the trucks with the Obamas’ belongings to move them out of the White House, their residence for the last eight years, the outgoing US President has rushed to fill dozens of positions with his colleagues.

    According to media reports, Obama has filled over 100 positions since January 1, 2017. That's some 30 persons a day he has appointed, even if he worked during weekends. Some of those positions require the approval of Congress, while others do not, and will serve long after Obama has left office. What makes Obama in such an apparent hurry?

    One of the most controversial of Obama's appointments is outgoing National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, who has now been appointed to the governing council of the National Holocaust Memorial. The irony is that Rhodes, one of Obama's top aides, has long been a proponent of US-Iran diplomacy and the famous nuclear deal, and Iran and Israel's relations are considered to be, at best, the opposite of friendly. Iranian officials have denied that the Holocaust occurred, a belief that is considered a crime in many countries.

    Both proponents and opponents of the Iranian nuclear deal say that the Islamic country will wage war on Israel, regardless of whether Tehran has operational nukes. While opponents point out that the nuclear deal is temporary, and will allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons after the term runs out, proponents of the deal point out that Iran has threatened to attack Israel, a nuclear power in its own right, if President-elect Donald Trump disavows the nation.

    Rhodes, for his part, will be paid $617 per diem, according to LifeZette.

    In other late appointments, Todd Phillip Haskell, who will become the ambassador to the Republic of the Congo, if approved by the Senate, could be paid between $120,000 and $165,000 annually. Jason E. Kearns, appointed to be a member of the US International Trade Commission, would make about the same figure, but his appointment must also be approved by the Senate.

    "Many of the nominations are to boards and commissions. While the boards and commissions likely do not pay, or do not pay much, they make policy for federal institutions," LifeZette noted.

    Valerie Jarrett, a senior Obama aide, will be a general trustee on the board of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Susan Rice, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, will also become a trustee of the center.

    Among other appointments are Avril Haines, named a member of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service; Sarah Hurwitz, a speechwriter for Michelle Obama, and Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, a White House official, who will both become members of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council; Christy Goldfuss, DJ Patil, Amy Pope, Dan Utech and Cristin Dorgelo, all White House officials, have been appointed as members of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, according to the New York Post.

    Trump, if he elects to take the challenge, will have hard time disavowing these appointments, LifeZette reported, adding that many of the appointees are close friends of the Obamas.

    Like every US president before him, Obama is taking the traditional step of rewarding his team for their good work.

    Who's to stay if the US government is too big?

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    appointment, White House, Valerie Jarrett, Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama, Susan Rice, United States
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