The man President Barack Obama chose last week to speed the U.S. response to the Ebola virus can’t start until Wednesday.
The White House’s explanation: That’s fast for the federal government.
“It is not that long a lapse,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said. “The onboarding process usually takes a little bit longer, weeks or months.”
The White House was able to expedite the hiring process for Ebola coordinator Ron Klain because he previously worked in the Obama administration as an aide to Vice President Joe Biden, Schultz said.
Klain, 53, is taking a leave of absence from his job as president and general counsel of the Washington-based venture capital firm Revolution LLC to take the White House job, according to Steve Case, the company’s founder.
Obama announced on Oct. 17 that he had chosen Klain to coordinate the government’s response to the Ebola virus, shortly before the White House meeting that day on the disease.
Republican-leaning media outlets including The Daily Caller and Breitbart.com posted critical articles on Klain for his absences at meetings Obama held on Oct. 17 and Oct. 18.
A White House official, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal operations, said it’s unusual to permit someone who isn’t yet in the administration to attend high-level policy meetings.
Klain has met separately with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and other administration officials on the Ebola response, Schultz said.
Klain also won’t accept an invitation to a testify Oct. 24 on the administration’s Ebola response before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Schultz said.
“That will be day three of his tenure” and the administration will send another official in his place, Schultz said.