Who's Anita Dunn? Harvey Weinstein's alleged 'adviser' who bears Joe Biden's grudges 'like an Irishman' for him

Dunn has already made history becoming the only person in modern presidential politics who has been in the inner circle of two winning candidates


                            Who's Anita Dunn? Harvey Weinstein's alleged 'adviser' who bears Joe Biden's grudges 'like an Irishman' for him
Anita Dunn and White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod (Getty Images)

While she has worked with six Democratic presidential campaigns over the past 40 years, Anita Dunn is largely unknown to the general public because she has mastered the art of staying out of headlines while quietly lending her expertise where it is needed. And she plans to use that talent of her to aid President-elect Joe Biden after he begins his first term as president on January 20 but from the outside. She’s so far the only senior member of the team to say she won’t be working at the White House.

She has already made history becoming the only person in modern presidential politics who has been in the inner circle of two winning candidates — first former President Barack Obama’s and now Biden’s. She has been guiding the Biden campaign since February. Earlier this week, Dunn spoke to The Atlantic's Edward-Isaac Dovere for a piece on her titled 'The Mastermind Behind Biden’s No-Drama Approach to Trump.' In it, she explained that she "came of age in the time when aides were neither seen nor heard, she said, and she still values discretion above almost all else" and as a result preferred to work outside of the spotlight.

Dunn “is not interested in winning a news cycle — she’s interested in winning an election,” Stephanie Cutter, her friend and an outside Biden-campaign adviser, told the Atlantic. “And there’s a big difference.” Dunn has known Biden since the 1980s, when she was the communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Biden and Dunn didn’t stay in touch until Obama put Biden on the ticket in 2008, when they reconnected. Quickly she became one of the very few people in politics whom both Biden and Obama trust enough to listen to. 

Joe Biden and senior adviser Anita Dunn depart The Queen theater (Getty Images)

When it comes to Biden, who is known to sometimes become emotional while making decisions, it is often Dunn's job to remember who had crossed him and who had served him well. She was tasked with keeping her attention on Biden’s long-term goals and reminding the campaign members — especially the young ones — that most Americans were not on Twitter. And since Biden is bad at keeping grudges, Dunn also keeps his grudges. “As [Biden] will be the first to say, he’s the only Irishman who doesn’t carry a grudge,” Dunn told the Atlantic. “I’m not Irish, but I will carry his grudges.”

A motive of Dunn for not being directly associated with the White House is to avoid potential conflicts of interest when she works with other clients besides Biden. She has previously gotten herself into quite a bit of a pickle over her contacts. For instance, in 2017, when BuzzFeed News reported that she had informally advised Harvey Weinstein as the accusations against him mounted. Her law firm, SKDK, stated that Dunn turned down Weinstein when he tried to hire her and that SKDK represented a number of sexual abuse survivors of Weinstein. It also continues to work with the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund.

Dunn has also criticized the way her association with Weinstein was handled by the press. “It is always a good reminder to me of just how lazy the press corps can be, because I didn’t work for [Weinstein],” she said. “He wasn’t a client. We put that out very clearly. And also a reminder of how nasty the left wing of our party can be.”

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