Obama picks foreign policy aide as chief of staff

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama announced Friday that he was naming his longtime foreign policy adviser Denis McDonough to lead the White House staff.

Obama, appearing with McDonough at the White House, called him "a great friend to me and everybody who works here at the White House."

McDonough is taking over the key West Wing role from Jack Lew, Obama's nominee for Treasury secretary.

McDonough has advised Obama on foreign policy for nearly a decade and most recently served as the president's deputy national security adviser. He is highly regarded by White House staffers.

McDonough's place in Obama's inner circle was illustrated during the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011. He is among those whose images are captured in a White House photograph seated in the situation room with Obama and other senior officials watching the raid unfold.

The White House official said McDonough has played a key role in all of Obama's major national security decisions in recent years, including the end of the war in Iraq, winding down the war in Afghanistan, responses to natural disasters in Haiti and Japan and repeal of the military's ban on openly gay service members.

Earlier, McDonough worked as a foreign policy specialist in Congress, including as a senior foreign policy adviser to former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., before moving to Obama's Senate office.

McDonough grew up in Minnesota as one of 11 children. Two of his brothers are priests. He is a graduate of St. John's University in Minnesota, where he played football, and he received a master's degree from Georgetown University.

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