Biden’s logistical man extraordinaire- POLITICO

Welcome to your special Sunday edition of POLITICO’s West Wing Playbook, your guide to the people and power centers in the Biden administration. With help from Allie Bice.

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The most critical factor in whether a presidential foreign visit is successful is President JOE BIDEN himself.

Perhaps the second most important is CHARLIE FROMSTEIN.

The behind-the-scenes director of visits and diplomatic affairs at the National Security Council, Fromstein is the administration’s point person negotiating every last detail of any presidential foreign trip including Biden’s current one to Japan and Korea this week.

And we mean every last detail: where the president visits, where the president walks when he visits, which door the president walks into and out of, who gets to greet the president first at each stop, the length of each meeting down to the minute, who attends each meeting and in what room, how interpretation will work, the food and beverages served, and how close reporters can get… to name a few.

Essentially, Fromstein is in-between the policy staffers setting the goals of the trip and the advance people who have to execute it all.

For Biden’s current trip, Fromstein traveled with other staffers to South Korea and Japan weeks ahead of time to scout locations. After a tip from the embassy in South Korea, he went to one of the Samsung campuses and administration officials say he argued internally that Biden should go there to highlight tech and economic partnership. Ultimately, it became Biden’s first stop.

Other times, Fromstein must become the de-facto diplomat with other countries on these small but important details. In the weeks ahead of Biden’s meeting with the President of the Republic of Korea YOON SUK-YEOL At The People’s House in Seoul, South Korean officials did not want reporters or advance staffers to bring any non-Samsung smartphones into the building.

American White House reporters are largely an iPhone crowd, so this became a delicate back-and-forth in the weeks preceding the meeting. One compromise proposal included having reporters stick non-clear tape over their iPhone cameras before entering the building. Ultimately, reporters were able to use their phones in the auditorium of the press conference but were asked not to use them while walking the halls.

Fromstein is not a newbie to this world. In fact, he had the same NSC job during the latter half of the Obama administration, coordinating the logistics on trips like BARACK OBAMA‘s historic visit to Cuba. NSC’s chief of staff YOHANNES ABRAHAMto whom Fromstein reports, coaxed him into coming back to his old job.

In addition to his experience during the Obama administration, he had a resume line that made him a natural fit: he was one of Biden’s schedulers in the vice presidential office. As we have previously reported, Being a Biden scheduler is a uniquely challenging job.

A White House official noted that just days before the trip to Asia, Fromstein was trying to figure out which entrance the leaders of Finland and Sweden should walk into to be greeted at the White House given that he coordinates meetings with foreign leaders at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. as well.

“The thing that really makes him special – and beloved – is that he knows how to wield the logistical elements of planning to support policy,” said one senior White House official. “He knows where and when to push or give in order to best support policy objectives.”

In keeping with his preferred behind-the-scenes nature, Fromstein declined to comment.

WEST WING PLAYBOOK GOES ON THE ROAD: Alex is on Biden’s first trip to Asia as president. Anything about the trip we are missing or we should point out? Text / Signal / Wickr Alex at 8183240098.

TEXT US – ARE YOU NARENDRA MODI, the prime minister of India who will be joining Biden in Japan this week? We want to hear from you. And we’ll keep you anonymous.

Or if you think we missed something in today’s edition, let us know and we may include it tomorrow. Email us at [email protected].

Talking money today – what was GEORGE WASHINGTON‘s presidential salary?

(Answer at the bottom.)

RAHMAPALOOZA: Biden greeted US Ambassador to Japan RAHM EMANUEL with a big hug when he landed in Japan today. Emanuel also appeared to coax the president into making an unannounced stop at his residence this evening since it’s across the street from Biden’s hotel.

Emanuel and his wife AMY RULE showed the president two Delaware peach blossom trees planted just outside the dining room at the ambassador’s residence, along with a plaque dedicating them to the president. Emanuel has also planted an American holly, which we were told is an important tree in Delaware, in the residence garden.