Backgrounders China Espionage Federal Bureaucracy Nominees White House

Thomas Zimmerman: Biden’s Deputy Lead for National Security Personnel

Name: Thomas Zimmerman

Position: Deputy Lead for National Security for Personnel

Connections to China and/or Extreme Leftist Organizations:

Thomas Zimmerman is Deputy Lead for National Security Personnel in the Biden White House and serves as Special Assistant to the President for Presidential Personnel. In this capacity he is responsible for all national security appointments in the Biden administration. Zimmerman is also quite likely compromised by Chinese intelligence, and his service in this position is potentially a significant national security threat.[i]

Prior to coming on board with the Biden administration, Zimmerman worked on former President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and “oversaw foreign policy research” for the 2012 reelection campaign.

In 2019, Zimmerman was featured as a LGBTQIA+ “National Security & Foreign Policy Leader”as part of an effort by the Atlantic Council, whose tagline is “Shaping the global future together” and the National Security organization for Gay Americans, Out in National Security (ONS).[ii]

Thomas Zimmerman was Special Assistant to the National Security Advisor at the White House during the Obama years and more recently “coordinated foreign policy research for Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign.” [iii]

Before coming onboard with the Biden administration, Zimmerman served as Director of Programs of the Los Angeles-based Pacific Council, who envisions a “spirit of internationalism” to “promote[s] global engagement across Los Angeles and California.”[iv] Shortly before the 2020 presidential election, Thomas Zimmerman moderated a panel discussion on the topic “lessons and threats from other countries regarding U.S. election security,” where among other things, panelists expressed concern about foreign influence in the election via “misinformation” on social media.[v]

According to a brief bio at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation, in his capacity as a Master’s Candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy,[vi] Zimmerman was a visiting scholar at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS). The SASS is a cover mechanism for Chinese operatives from the Ministry of State Security (MSS) the Chinese equivalent of the CIA. This means that Chinese intelligence officers operate abroad claiming to be members of SASS. According to the FBI, the MSS also “uses SASS employees as spotters and assessors.”[vii]

A Chinese intelligence officer under SASS cover recruited former CIA officer Kevin Mallory to spy for China and issued him an electronic communication device. Mallory took money from the Chinese and was arrested on his return from a meeting with his Chinese handler. Mallory is now serving a twenty-year prison term.[viii]

Zimmerman has also “hosted an academic salon” alongside Chinese Communist Party adviser Li Lifan on “topics concerning counter-terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, security issues in Central Asia, the US perspective on the One Belt One Road initiative, and security issues in South Asia” at the Shanghai Institute of American Studies (SIAS). SIAS is funded by the Chinese Communist Party and “provide[s] advisory services to the central government as well as local decision-makers” in China.][ix],[x]

During his time at SASS Zimmerman’s focus was on explaining China’s grand strategy in Western Xinjiang. He spoke positively about China’s actions in this region and suggested that Chinese investment would have a positive impact throughout the region. What China calls Western Xinjiang is known by its native inhabitants as East Turkestan. It is an independent area that was never historically part of China. China is during a massive, genocidal project to assimilate this area and effectively erase its inhabitants, the Uyghurs from history.[xi],[xii],[xiii]

Pointedly, Zimmerman omitted any reference to his work at SASS when he published his official bio when he joined the Biden transition team.  Perhaps he knew full well that a resume that includes a stint with Chinese intelligence might not be viewed particularly well.

The Biden administration is by this point filled with individuals compromised by Beijing. Still, Zimmerman stands out for the sheer audacity of the appointment. Even for Beijing Biden putting a man who may very well be working for the MSS in charge of all U.S. national security appointments seems a little much. Then again, perhaps there are no real limits anymore. In an administration headed by the Manchurian President maybe there is no such thing as being too close to Beijing.




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