Joe Biden may be gearing up for January 20, but it was January 2012 when the Delaware Democrat got his big break. “Biden Gets China,” headlined the January 2, 2012 report in The Atlantic. As author Steve Clemons explained, “a senior White House official has confirmed that Vice President Joe Biden will take the lead on the administration’s next phase China policy.”
The “strategy of engagement with Biden at the top” was orchestrated by National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon, once described by James Mann in Foreign Policy as “Obama’s Gray Man,” who shuns the press and “prefers to operate behind closed doors.”
According to AllGov.com, Donilon worked in the Jimmy Carter White House and in 1984 served as campaign coordinator for Walter Mondale. In 1985, the University of Virginia law grad landed a spot on the Senate Judiciary Committee but “remained interested in helping get Democrats elected to the White House.” After advising Biden in 1988, Donilon would go on to serve in Bill Clinton’s State Department.
From 1995 to 2005, Donilon was chief lobbyist of the Federal National Mortgage Association. As CNN reported, Donilon left Fannie Mae before it imploded and “was forced to pay $400 million to the federal government for misstated earnings during his time there.” Donilon also attempted to interfere with an audit by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight and tried to launch a separate investigation into the OFHEO itself. Such corruption proved no bar to future advancement.
In 2010, President Obama tapped Donilon as his national security advisor, which troubled Robert Scheer of The Nation. “Why in the world would President Obama, whose legacy has been sabotaged by a housing crisis that Donilon helped create and conceal, have hired him to run the most sensitive position of public trust in his administration?” Donilon was a skilled political player, Scheer wrote, but as the president so often demonstrated, “it’s the top hustlers of whom he seems enamored.”
According to Robert Gates, author of Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of State at War, Donilon would be a “disaster” as national security advisor. True to form, when U.S. commanders sought to defeat insurgents, the Fannie Mae hustler charged they were “in revolt” and “insubordinate.”
But there was more to the story.
In a June 2013 speech to the Asia Society, Donilon said, “I disagree with the premise put forward by some historians and theorists that a rising power and an established power are somehow destined for conflict.” Here the Carter-Mondale-Clinton-Biden loyalist may have missed a point or two.
The “rising power” is a Communist dictatorship, one of the most murderous regimes in history, as The Black Book of Communism confirms. As they showed at Tiananmen Square in 1989, the Chinese people want freedom and human rights. American politicians such as Joe Biden sold them out and pushed for China’s admission to the World Trade Organization. The regime was supposed to become more liberal but instead became more repressive, expansionist, and intrusive in American affairs.
As Tom Donilon saw it, “a deeper U.S.-China military-to-military dialogue is central to addressing many of the sources of insecurity and potential competition between us” (emphasis added). That is surely the source of Joe Biden’s 2019 claim that the Chinese Communists are “not bad folks, folks” and “not competition for us.” The 2012 “Biden Gets China” report has now become “China Gets Biden”—right where they want him.
CNN reported in November that Tom Donilon, now with the BlackRock financial firm, was a “leading contender” for Biden’s director of the CIA. That didn’t happen but it hardly ends the Donilon family influence.
Tom Donilon’s wife, Cathy Russell, was deputy assistant to the president and chief of staff for Second Lady Jill Biden. She then became U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues at the Department of State. As Bloomberg reports, Donilon’s wife served on Biden’s transition advisory board and will be director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel.
During the 2020 campaign, Donilon’s younger brother Mike served as Biden’s chief strategist, and, as the New York Times reports, Biden has now made Mike Donilon a senior advisor, “the defender of the Biden brand.”
The CIA post went to William Burns, a diplomat who “has never been an American intelligence officer,” as the Associated Press reports. According to Biden, Burns shares his “profound belief that intelligence must be apolitical.”