Iran Deal Messaging Architect Ben Rhodes Named to Holocaust Memorial Council

WASHINGTON — With just a few days left in office, President Obama is continuing to make appointments — including ones that need Senate confirmation, and including a post for an NBA legend.

Today he named Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, who orchestrated and ran the messaging campaign to sell the Iran nuclear deal, to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. The 55-member board is largely tasked with fundraising for the D.C. museum.

A New York Times article last spring detailed how Rhodes helmed the effort to spin the deal to sell it to Congress and the American public; after boasting about one-upping the deal’s opponents he acknowledged in the piece that he war “not betting” on reform in Iran.

Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and National Security Advisor Susan Rice were named to the board of trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and gymnast Gabby Douglas were among the nine appointees to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, along with Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who was the first woman to compete for the United States wearing a hijab.

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) was named to the Roosevelt Campobello International Park Commission.

He also named six members to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, made two appointments to the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children, and other appointments.

“I am proud that such experienced and committed individuals have agreed to serve the American people in these important roles,” Obama said in a statement. “I know they will serve the American people well.”

These trustees don’t need congressional approval, and the length of their appointments vary as dictated by acts of Congress or by executive order; Kennedy Center general trustees serve six-year terms under the law, for example, while the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition appointees serve two years per executive order.

On Monday, Obama nominated two people that will need Senate approval: Todd Haskell, the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs, to serve as ambassador to the Republic of the Congo, and Jason Kearns, a staffer at the House Ways and Means Committee, to the U.S. International Trade Commission, a six-person panel required to have no more than three members representing one political party.

He also made a slew of appointments to various commissions, including naming White House Deputy National Security Advisor Avril Haines to the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, and appointed 10 new members to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

Last week’s appointments included naming former Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) to the Fulbright Scholarship board.

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