Senior Blinken aide is taking a top job with Austin after Senate confirmation holdup

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Monday that one of his top aides is leaving for a top job with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and will be replaced by a brother of President Joe Biden’s national security adviser.

State Department adviser Derek Chollet, a national security veteran of Democratic presidential administrations, will become Austin’s chief of staff. Chollet will be replaced in his role at the State Department by Tom Sullivan, the brother of Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Tom Sullivan had been Blinken’s deputy chief of staff for policy.

Chollet had been nominated to be undersecretary of defense for policy, but his confirmation in the Senate failed to materialize, and government officials became increasingly frustrated by the repeated delays.

The game of musical chairs in the national security hierarchy comes amid growing concern about developments in the Middle East, Ukraine and China.

“I am very pleased that Derek Chollet will start as my chief of staff in July. He is one of the most distinguished, far-sighted and skilled national security practitioners of his generation, and I am grateful to him for taking on this important assignment at such an important time,” Austin said in a statement.

Blinken said in his own statement: “During his time at the State Department, he has taken on some of the toughest diplomatic assignments, from the Balkans and Burma to Pakistan and Northern Ireland, and over the past nine months he has been crucial important for shaping our economy. response to the crisis in the Middle East.”

Blinken also praised Tom Sullivan, who was a senior official under former Secretary of State John Kerry, for having “unparalleled depth of knowledge about how national security policy is formulated and implemented, knowledge he brings to the table every day on behalf of the American people.” “