Washington Secrets

John Kerry picks 'Buddha' as his top Asia aide

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,John Kerry,Asia

Secretary of State John Kerry is finally getting his team together in Foggy Bottom.

And as he has scoured the halls of the State Department, other agencies and Congress in his search for top aides, Kerry has been looking at more than just jobs-packed resumes.

Take Danny Russel, for example. The White House National Security Council aide has a lot more going for him than just his experience in Asia. Secrets hears that Kerry has already nicknamed him "the Buddha" for his calm, quiet way of dispensing advice, which the former Massachusetts senator witnessed during their recent trip to Asia.

On that trip, we hear, the two shared a preference for the same translator in China who captured the often-missed nuances of the language.

Plus, Kerry and Russel share a close friend in Marvin Nicholson, the White House trip manager and President Obama's regular golf partner. Nicholson was a longtime Kerry aide whom the new secretary of state calls "one of the best judges of character I know."

Kerry gravitated toward Nicholson's varied background including caddying at Augusta and working at a windsurfing shop, and he also appreciated that Russel had studied at a Japanese martial arts center, or dojo, decades ago before joining the Foreign Service.

Russel served in the State Department for more than 20 years, including stints in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan, and Seoul, South Korea, before moving to the White House in 2009.

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