(Headline USA) Democrat presidential hopeful Joe Biden on Monday tapped Obama-era officials for what would be top national security and economic roles, signaling a stark shift from the Trump administration’s “America First” policies in favor of a globalist agenda that would increase financial regulation and taxes.
The picks included former Secretary of State John Kerry to take the lead on combating climate change.
Biden also planned choose Janet Yellen, who was nominated by former President Barack Obama to lead the Federal Reserve, as the first woman to become treasury secretary.
Biden’s emerging Cabinet selections—despite ongoing election challenges and credible allegations of vote fraud—would be a throwback to the sort of Deep-State-friendly cronyism that marked every administration for at least the past three decades.
His selections would rely on veteran policymakers with strong relationships in Washington and sources of global capital.
But contrary to the fears fostered by many conservatives, Biden’s electoral rebuke with Republicans making strong gains in the House of Representatives and likely holding the Senate majority meant he was not free to double down on the radical, pro-socialist movement after long hinting that he would incorporate voices from the fringe Left into his think-tank.
Instead of promoting big-name heavyweights, Biden’s preliminary picks fell back on relative unknowns who had been supporters or patrons of his campaign.
The incoming president would nominate longtime adviser Antony Blinken to be secretary of state, lawyer Alejandro Mayorkas to be homeland security secretary and Linda Thomas–Greenfield to be ambassador to the United Nations.
Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, will be nominated as director of national intelligence, the first woman to hold that post, although it was only established during the Obama era.
Trump previously made history by appointing the first openly gay man to that office—making Richard Grenell the highest-ranking member to date of the LGBT community. However, Democrats in the Senate prevented him from formalizing his confirmation, instead forcing Trump to nominate former Rep. John Ratcliffe.
Despite their relative obscurity, with a greater emphasis on diversity than other factors, a statement from the Biden camp touted their collective credentials.
They “are experienced, crisis-tested leaders who are ready to hit the ground running on day one,” said the statement from his so-called transition team.
“These officials will start working immediately to rebuild our institutions, renew and reimagine American leadership to keep Americans safe at home and abroad, and address the defining challenges of our time—from infectious disease, to terrorism, nuclear proliferation, cyber threats, and climate change,” it said.
In the weeks ahead, Biden could also name Michèle Flournoy as the first woman to lead the Defense Department. Pete Buttigieg, the former Indiana mayor and onetime presidential candidate, has also been mentioned as a contender for several Cabinet agencies.
In making the announcements on Monday, Biden moved forward with plans to fill out his administration even as President Donald Trump pursued legal challenges in several key states and has refused to acknowledge Biden’s baseless, media-backed claim to victory.
Trump said Monday that he was directing his team to cooperate on the transition but vowed to keep up the fight.
His comment came after the General Services Administration declared that Biden was the apparent winner of the election, clearing the way for the start of the transition from Trump’s administration and allowing Biden to coordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on Jan. 20
The nominations were generally met with silence on Capitol Hill, where the Senate’s balance of power hinges on two runoff races that will be decided in January.
The best known of the bunch is Kerry, who made climate change one of his top priorities while serving as Obama’s secretary of state, during which he also negotiated the controversial Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord.
Trump withdrew from both agreements, which he said represented a failure of American diplomacy in a direct shot at Kerry, whom he called the worst secretary of state in U.S. history.
“America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is,” Kerry said. “I’m proud to partner with the president-elect, our allies, and the young leaders of the climate movement to take on this crisis as the president’s climate envoy.”
Biden will appoint Jake Sullivan as national security adviser. At 43, he will be one of the youngest national security advisers in history.
Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has close ties with Biden. If confirmed as secretary of state, he would be a leading force in the incoming administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which Trump questioned longtime alliances.
Blinken recently participated in a national security briefing with Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris. He weighed in publicly just last week on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia.
He will inherit a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department, where Trump has expressed a clear distrust of what he deemed to be a parallel globalist agenda that sough to undermine his own.
Many of the State Department’s so-called whistleblowers who worked with House Democrats to impeach Trump did so not because of any clear-cut legal violations but because they disagreed with him on matters of policy.
Although the department escaped massive proposed cuts of more than 30% in its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, from which many diplomats have opted to retire or leave the foreign service given limited prospects for advancements under an administration they believed did not value their expertise.
Blinken served on the National Security Council during President Bill Clinton’s administration before becoming staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel. In the early years of the Obama administration, Blinken returned to the NSC and was then-Vice President Biden’s national security adviser before he moved to the State Department to serve as deputy to Kerry.
A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School, Blinken has aligned himself with numerous former senior national security officials who have called for a major reinvestment in American diplomacy and renewed emphasis on global engagement.
“Democracy is in retreat around the world, and unfortunately it’s also in retreat at home because of the president taking a two-by-four to its institutions, its values and its people every day,” Blinken told The Associated Press in September. “Our friends know that Joe Biden knows who they are. So do our adversaries. That difference would be felt on day one.”
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press