Politics & Policy

Elizabeth Warren’s Close Ally Inside the Obama Administration

Jarrett at the White House, January 2014 (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty)
During her brief tenure at CFPB, Elizabeth Warren developed a close friendship with top White House aide Valerie Jarrett

When Elizabeth Warren began her work as a special adviser at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in September 2010, her first e-mail went to Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s trusted confidante.

“I’m taking a gulp of air — and you are my first email from Treasury,” Warren wrote on September 21, 2010, putting “hello!” in the subject line and briefly discussing her day. Jarrett responded: “All sounds marvelous!”

Numerous past reports portray Jarrett as Warren’s top patron in the White House. And newly obtained emails from Warren’s tenure at the CFPB shows a close personal relationship developing between the two women, even as Jarrett politically went to bat for Warren. When the Obama administration eventually decided not to nominate Warren as head of the new agency, Jarrett comforted her.

From the start, Jarrett and Warren followed each other’s coverage in the media, often sending complimentary feedback.

“The press clips from today’s meeting look terrific!” Jarrett wrote during Warren’s first week as special adviser for the CFPB. “Outstanding!” she later commented about Warren’s October 22, 2010, appearance on The View.

RELATED: Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s Berlin Wall

In April 2011, Warren wrote to Jarrett, saying that she had “been following your trips and appearances — all terrific.” She added: “I miss you. Would you like to have lunch sometime soon?”

“Of course!” Jarrett wrote back. “I’ve been keeping up with you through the guys, but it is a poor substitute!”

The two met for one-on-one breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout Warren’s tenure at the CFPB, also frequently scheduling phone calls.

“I’m looking forward to seeing you later this week,” Warren wrote on January 16, 2011. “It’s been too long.” Later, she had staffers coordinate with Jarrett’s office to schedule a dinner at the posh Bombay Club in D.C.

The two also attended intimate so-called Senior Women Dinners for the Obama administration’s top female staffers, including White House staff secretary Lisa Brown, director of communications Anita Dunn, and Jennifer Psaki, who went on to work as spokesperson for the State Department.

#share#That close relationship meant Warren had a key backer in the White House, not only as she began working as a special adviser at the CFPB in September 2010 but also as she vied for the nomination for agency head throughout the next year.

Warren enjoyed national attention for conceiving the new agency, but Republicans also vociferously opposed both her and her new agency. Despite Jarrett’s advocacy on behalf of Warren, President Obama decided as early as mid June 2011 against nominating Warren, fearing she couldn’t endure the confirmation process. On July 17, 2011, he announced he had chosen Richard Cordray as CFPB director.

RELATED: Valerie Jarrett: ‘I Don’t Know’ If Hillary Ever Sent E-mails to the White House

During that time, Timothy Geithner wrote in his 2014 book Stress Test, Jarrett was “pushing hard for Warren” to be appointed head of CFPB. Warren acknowledged Jarrett’s support in an e-mail sent in early June 2011, probably before Obama had made a decision about whether to appoint her.

“Thank you for all your help on advancing the meeting today — and for all your help to get us in position to build this agency,” Warren wrote. “I never get tired of saying that without the President, we wouldn’t have this agency at all. I realize I should add your name as well. I hope that we’ll have an agency that will make both you and the President proud. I realized when I saw you just how much I’ve missed you. I know you’ve been busy, but it was good seeing you smiling.”

Jarrett continued to forward Warren notes from industry groups in support of her appointment as CFPB head, including three letters sent the first week in July, after Obama had reportedly already decided against nominating her.

RELATED: How Hillary Scares Off Elizabeth Warren

On July 13, Warren bemoaned how “news information about the nomination is starting to leak out. I’ve heard it from three different sources — two people from sources in the WH and one in via the FBI.”

“Inevitable,” Jarrett replied.

On July 18, a day after Obama’s announcement that Cordray would get the job, Jarrett again e-mailed Warren, thanking her for “everything you did to make today a success.” She continued: “I know how disappointed you were, and yet you did everything possible to make today a big success for the President.”

When Warren submitted her formal resignation later that month, she again reached out to Jarrett.

“Would it be possible for me to hand deliver the letter to the President sometime this week and to thank him for his continued and steadfast support for the new agency?” she asked.

Jarrett got her in front of Obama within three and a half hours.

Jillian Kay Melchior — Jillian Kay Melchior writes for National Review as a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center. She is also a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.

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