Day one for Ebola czar Ron Klain

Washington lawyer named 'Ebola czar'
Washington lawyer named 'Ebola czar'

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    Washington lawyer named 'Ebola czar'

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Washington lawyer named 'Ebola czar' 06:13

Story highlights

  • Ron Klain, Obama's Ebola czar, started his new job Wednesday
  • He'll attend an Oval Office meeting in the afternoon
  • The pick was criticized since Klain has no medical experience
The seasoned Democratic operative President Barack Obama tapped last week to head his administration's Ebola fight got to work on Wednesday, though Ron Klain's new job is expected to unfold out of public sight.
The so-called "Ebola czar" -- termed an "Ebola Response Coordinator" by the White House -- will meet with Obama and other top advisers Wednesday afternoon in the Oval Office to discuss the global crisis, which has Americans worried about their own safety and skeptical of the government's ability to respond.
Klain's appointment last week was meant partly to quell public anxiety about the virus. The announcement came after calls from lawmakers to name a central organizing "czar" that could ensure the various health arms of the administration were working in concert.
Obama initially resisted, saying his top homeland security aide Lisa Monaco was doing a sufficient job in managing the response alongside her other tasks, which include a major role advising the mission against ISIS.
But on Thursday -- the same day lawmakers slammed the administration's Ebola response during a Capitol Hill hearing -- the president conceded he may need someone to manage the effort fulltime.
He named Klain to the role Friday, though the White House said it took until this week to complete the required paperwork to get him started. He was spotted at the White House on Saturday evening, though he didn't attend a high-level Oval Office meeting on Ebola that took place around the same time.
Klain's appointment was met with suspicion from Republicans, who pointed out the former lobbyist and vice presidential chief of staff lacked any medical experience.
But White House officials say Klain was picked because of his knowledge of the vast federal bureaucracy and his ability to pull the strings of government.
"What we were looking for is not an Ebola expert, but rather an implementation expert," Press Secretary Josh Earnest said last week.
The White House says Klain won't be his own boss; he'll report both to Monaco and National Security Adviser Susan Rice. And the White House made clear last week Obama himself bears ultimate oversight for his administration's actions.
As such, aides say Klain's new job coordinating various federal agencies won't be public-facing, though they haven't ruled out putting him in front of cameras to address the government efforts.