Who’s who in Biden’s Cabinet?

Who’s who in Biden’s Cabinet?


Who’s who in Biden’s Cabinet?

Who’s who in Biden’s Cabinet?

President-elect Joe Biden has started to formally nominate members of his cabinet, as he officially begins the transition to the White House.

Mr Biden’s team has been vetting potential candidates for cabinet positions since he was announced the winner of 3 November’s election, despite Donald Trump repeatedly refusing to concede and blocking a transition.

President Trump seemed to soften his stance on Monday evening, as he accepted that a formal transition for Mr Biden to take office should begin. He still did not concede.

After the General Services Administration acknowledged Mr Biden as the “apparent winner” of the presidential election, Mr Trump said that the agency must “do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols”.

Vice-president elect Kamala Harris and Mr Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain were previously announced as part of the President-elect’s team, before he announced more nominations on 23 November.

A number of Mr Biden’s first picks, for his national security and foreign policy teams, have worked with him before, while the hires are more diverse than any previous US cabinet.

The President-elect will be nominating more candidates for his cabinet over the next few weeks, as his transition begins to take shape.

Below are Mr Biden’s first picks for his cabinet.

Anthony Blinken, secretary of state

Anthony Blinken was announced as Mr Biden’s pick for secretary of state on Monday 23 November, to replace Mike Pompeo in Mr Trump’s administration.

Mr Blinken, 57, was born in New York City. He went on to study at Harvard University and earned a law degree from Columbia Law School.

Between 1994 and 2001 he served on the National Security Council at the White House and then worked as staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He joined Mr Biden’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign, before he was selected by Barack Obama as his running mate.

The longtime diplomat was part of the Obama transition team in 2008.  He worked directly with Mr Biden when he was vice president, serving as national security adviser from 2009 to 2013.

Mr Blinken then served as deputy secretary of state from 2015 to 2017 during president Obama’s second term.

He reunited with Mr Biden to work as a foreign policy adviser for his 2020 campaign and has publicly spoken about the President-elect’s plans in regards to foreign policy.

In October, he said that the Biden administration will “undertake a strategic review” of America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, and confirmed that it will “will continue non-nuclear” sanctions against Iran.

The 57-year-old previously called Brexit a “total mess” and compared the decision to the far-right French politician, Marine Le Pen.

However, he has praised the Trump administration’s normalisation agreement between Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Mr Obama described Mr Blinken as “outstanding. Smart, gracious, a skilled diplomat, well-regarded around the world”.

John Kerry, special presidential envoy for climate

John Kerry was announced as Mr Biden’s special presidential envoy for climate on 23 November, becoming only the second person appointed to the role.

Carol Browner served from 2009 to 2016 during Mr Obama’s presidency but Mr Trump declined to appoint anyone to the position during his time in the White House.

Mr Kerry, 76, former secretary of state and Democratic presidential nominee, retired from government service in 2017 when Mr Trump was inaugurated as president.

The longtime public official served as a Massachusetts senator from 1985 to 2013. He then served as secretary of state for four more years under Mr Obama.

While in the role, he played an important part in the creation of the Paris climate agreement, which commits countries to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr Trump then withdrew the US from the agreement but Mr Biden has promised to immediately rejoin it. 

Mr Kerry was part of the climate taskforce during Mr Biden’s presidential campaign. The President-elect’s transition team said that his appointment shows that Mr Biden sees climate change as an “urgent national security issue”.

Mr Kerry tweeted: “America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is.”

He does not need to be confirmed by the Senate for his role.

Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security

Mr Biden announced the nomination of Alejandro Mayorkas as the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Monday, 23 November.

Mr Mayorkas, 61, was born in Havana, Cuba, and if confirmed will become the first immigrant to hold the position and the first Latino person in the role.

He moved to Miami, Florida with his parents in the 1960s after his family fled Cuba as refugees, before then settling in California a few years later.

After working as a US attorney in the Central District of California, he joined the Obama administration in 2009 as the director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The agency is in charge of applications for green cards, naturalisation ceremonies and work permits, according to CBS News.

He was then nominated by president Obama to be the deputy DHS secretary in 2013, which made him the highest ranking Cuban-American in the US government.

After Mr Obama’s presidency ended, Mr Mayorkas worked for the international law firm WilmerHale.

Following the announcement on Monday, Mr Mayorkas wrote: “When I was very young, the United States provided my family and me a place of refuge.

“Now, I have been nominated to be the DHS Secretary and oversee the protection of all Americans and those who flee persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones.”

Avril Haines, director of National Intelligence

On 23 November, Mr Biden nominated Avril Haines to serve as the director of National Intelligence.

If confirmed by the Senate, Ms Haines, 51, will become the first woman to serve in the role.

Ms Haines was born in New York City, and studied at the University of Chicago before gaining her law degree from Georgetown University.

She first worked with Mr Biden between 2007 and 2008, as the deputy chief counsel for the Majority Senate Democrats, while the President-elect served as the chairman.

Under the Obama administration, Ms Haines worked as both the White House deputy national security adviser and deputy director of the CIA. She was the first woman to hold both titles.

Ms Haines also serves on the boards of the Nuclear Threat Initiative and Refugees International, and previously worked as a senior fellow at Johns Hopkins University.

In the position as the director of National Intelligence, Ms Haines will oversee the National Intelligence Program, the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council. She will also serve as an adviser to the president.

Speaking to NPR about Ms Haines’ appointment, former CIA director John Brennan said that she is “widely respected among intelligence professionals, and her superior intellect, humility and legendary work ethic are deeply admired by the thousands of intelligence officers with whom she worked during the Obama Administration.”

Jake Sullivan, national security adviser

Mr Biden announced Jake Sullivan’s nomination as his national security adviser, replacing Robert O’Brien in Mr Trump’s administration.

Mr Sullivan, 43, who is the youngest of Mr Biden’s picks, was born in Vermont but moved to Minnesota with his family when he was a child.

He attended Yale University and went on to earn a law degree from the school.

After working as chief counsel to Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar, he served as an adviser for Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic primaries, and then to Mr Obama for the 2008 presidential election.

After Ms Clinton was made secretary of state during Mr Obama’s presidency, Mr Sullivan worked as her deputy chief of staff and director of Policy Planning until she stepped down in 2013.

He then taught at Yale Law School and joined the London and New York–based law firm, Macro Advisory Partners.

A statement from Mr Biden’s transition team read: “During his time in government, Sullivan was a lead negotiator in the initial talks that paved the way for the Iran nuclear deal and played a key role in the US-brokered negotiations that led to a ceasefire in Gaza in 2012.

“He also played a key role in shaping the Asia-Pacific rebalance strategy at both the State Department and the White House.”

Mr Sullivan also tweeted that president-elect Biden “taught me what it takes to safeguard our national security at the highest levels of our government. Now, he has asked me to serve as his National Security Advisor.”

“In service, I will do everything in my power to keep our country safe.”

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, UN ambassador

Linda Thomas-Greenfield was announced as Mr Biden’s pick for UN ambassador, replacing Kelly Craft who has served in that role for the Trump administration since 2019.

Ms Thomas-Greenfield, 68, was born in Louisiana, where she gained a bachelor of arts from the state university. The following year she gained a master’s degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

A longtime diplomat, Ms Thomas-Greenfield joined the US foreign service in 1982 and served in numerous positions, including the deputy assistant secretary at the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

She also served as the US ambassador to Liberia between 2008 and 2012 and later as the director general of the Foreign Service and director of Human Resources.

The 68-year-old was terminated from the State Department in 2017 by President Trump, as part of a purge of several senior officials in the department.

Ms Thomas-Greenfield was named as a volunteer for Mr Biden’s transition team earlier in November, before being  announced as his pick for the UN ambassador.

Following the announcement on Monday, Ms Thomas-Greenfield wrote on Twitter: “My mother taught me to lead with the power of kindness and compassion to make the world a better place.

“I’ve carried that lesson with me throughout my career in Foreign Service — and, if confirmed, will do the same as Ambassador to the United Nations.”

All of Mr Biden’s nominations, except for Mr Kerry, still need to be confirmed by the Senate before starting in their roles following his inauguration on 20 January.


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