Joe Biden’s National Security Council (NSC) is bringing on an experienced press operative to bulk up its communications, according to officials familiar with the plans.
Adrienne Watson, communications director at the Democratic National Committee, will be deputy spokesperson at the NSC under spokesperson Emily Horne and will start in early November, according to one official. The hiring of Watson, who has a background in rapid response communications, comes after the NSC and national security adviser Jake Sullivan faced rough headlines over their handling of the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The NSC had a temporary deputy spokesperson in the early days of the administration — Elizabeth Trudeau, who was on temporary detail from the State Department until late March and then eventually went to the Pentagon.
Watson’s experience is more political than Trudeau, who had spent much of her career at the State Department. Watson’s four-plus years at the DNC included jobs as press secretary and war room director. Before that, she ran communications at the pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC Correct the Record in 2016 and also worked on Capitol Hill for three moderate Democrats. Watson declined to comment.
“Good communicators shape stories, but great ones can change organizations,” said DNC executive director Sam Cornale. “I’m hard pressed to think of someone who has meant more to the strength of the DNC and our Biden-Harris team than Adrienne Watson.” Asked who Watson’s replacement would be, Cornale declined to comment.
Watson also earned respect from counterparts at the Republican National Committee. “Smart hire,” Michael Ahrens, the RNC’s communications director last cycle, said in a text message. “Adrienne is a smart and effective communicator.”
During the 2016 election, past colleagues of Watson’s recall her pitching opposition research on Donald Trump up until the campaign’s end, even after Democrats thought they were going to win.
The move comes as many parts of the White House have been beefing up their communications operations amid a number of political and policy crises. The National Economic Council recently hired operative Jesse Lee and Vice President Kamala Harris’ office also recently brought on two longtime communicators, Lorraine Voles and Adam Frankel.