Former Microsoft executive Chris Liddell named White House deputy chief of staff

Key Points
  • White House chief of staff John Kelly has appointed former Microsoft and General Motors executive Chris Liddell to be his deputy in charge of policy.
  • Liddell has spent the past year working alongside Jared Kushner in the Office of American Innovation, charged with modernizing the government's IT systems.
  • Liddell's promotion is viewed as a win for the establishment faction of White House aides, which recently lost two former Goldman Sachs executives, Gary Cohn and Dina Powell.
White House Director of Strategic Initiatives Chris Liddell (L) talks with White House Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn before a meeting with small business people in the Roosevelt Room at the White House January 30, 2017 in Washington, DC.
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White House chief of staff John Kelly has appointed Chris Liddell, who works closely with Jared Kushner, to be new deputy chief of staff for policy coordination, the White House announced Monday.

Liddell has spent the past year working alongside Kushner in the White House Office of American Innovation, a group created by the Trump administration and seen by many as a hub for Kushner's pet projects.

Missions assigned to the office include modernizing the government's IT systems, "unleashing American business" and promoting apprenticeships. As Kelly's deputy, Liddell will continue working for the innovation office, overseeing its policy process.

Liddell's promotion helps to fill out Kelly's skeleton crew of top White House aides, which has been further depleted by the recent departures of Rick Dearborn, formerly Kelly's deputy chief of staff; Rob Porter, formerly staff secretary; Dina Powell, a former deputy national security adviser; Gary Cohn, Trump's former top economic adviser; and Cohn's deputy, Jeremy Katz.

It also represents a win for Kushner, who has emerged as the standard bearer of the establishment faction of the Trump White House, which is locked in a perpetual power struggle with the more ideologically conservative wing, which includes Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo.

In a statement Monday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders praised Liddell for his "extensive experience managing large organizations" and noted that he "has already overseen a number of interagency processes in the White House. In his new role Chris will manage the policy process as we continue to enact the president's agenda," she said.

Before joining the Trump administration, Liddell was chief financial officer at Microsoft, General Motors and International Paper. He was also reportedly under consideration to lead the president's National Economic Council, a job that eventually went to now-departed Cohn.

"Chris is widely respected across the administration and is highly qualified to oversee and coordinate our policy process," Kelly said in a statement released by the White House.

Liddell's new assignment follows a three-month period marked by departures, firings and general chaos among White House personnel. Trump recently fired his secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, in a Twitter post and multiple reports say the president plans to force national security adviser H.R. McMaster out.

Correction: An earlier version misstated how Trump communicated the firing of Rex Tillerson. It was in a Twitter post.