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Trump appoints two members of impeachment defense team

Former President Donald J. Trump on Sunday appointed two attorneys to represent him in his upcoming Senate impeachment trial, a day after his split from five members of his original team.

David Schoen, a Georgia-based attorney who represented longtime Trump adviser Roger J. Stone Jr., and Bruce Castor, a former Pennsylvania prosecutor, were announced in a press release from Mr. Trump’s office.

Notably, Schoen has already worked with the 45th president and other advisers to prepare for the upcoming trial, and Schoen and Castor agree this impeachment is unconstitutional – a fact 45 senators voted in line with last week, “says the press release. .

Lawyers will be deployed immediately: Mr. Trump is due to file a response to the House charges by Tuesday, and the trial is expected to begin next week. The announcement came a day after Mr. Trump parted ways with his senior attorney, Butch Bowers, a South Carolina-based attorney whom Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina helped bring to the Trump team, and four other lawyers who were supposed to do it. work on defense.

One person familiar with the ruling called it “mutual,” and others have said there is no chemistry between Mr. Trump and Mr. Bowers, a quality Mr. Trump values ​​in his lawyers. Mr. Bowers has also maintained a low-key appearance in the press, while Mr. Trump prefers people who will go on TV and defend him.

There was also never a signed letter of intent between Mr. Trump and the lawyers who left, and the former president told advisers he wanted the defense to focus on his baseless claims about electoral fraud, said a person familiar with the discussions. A person close to Mr Trump disputed that was the case, but admitted that Mr Trump disdainfully said the deal was so simple that he could try it out himself and save money .

Mr. Trump has struggled to find – or retain – lawyers to defend him in the various investigations concerning him since taking office.

Mr. Castor is famous for refusing to prosecute disgraced artist Bill Cosby while he was a district attorney for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, in 2005. He also served briefly as Acting Attorney General of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Schoen has represented a wide range of clients, from mobsters and politicians to Mr. Stone.

In an interview with the Atlanta Jewish Times in September, Mr. Schoen said of his case: “I have represented all kinds of high-profile gangster figures: alleged Russian mafia boss in this country, Israeli mafia and two bosses. Italians, as well as a guy in the government claimed he was the biggest mafioso in the world.

Mr. Trump’s office press release describes him as “the 45th President Donald J. Trump” as opposed to “the former president”, a notable choice given Mr. Trump’s repeated refusal to concede.

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US appoints Iranian envoy in battle of wills with Tehran over nuclear talks

WASHINGTON – President Biden has appointed Robert Malley, a veteran Middle East expert and former Obama administration official, to be his special envoy to Iran, two senior State Department officials said Thursday evening.

Mr Malley will be tasked with trying to persuade Tehran to curb its nuclear program – and to stop enriching uranium beyond the limits imposed by a 2015 deal with world powers – and to agree to new ones. negotiations before the United States lifts its deadly economic sanctions against Iran.

It is far from clear whether the strategy, as indicated by Mr Biden, will be successful. Iran has repeatedly said it will not return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal until the United States eases its sanctions, setting up a high-stakes competition to see which side will flash first.

The return to the nuclear deal, which was negotiated by the Obama administration, was part of Mr. Biden’s campaign promises after President Donald J. Trump withdrew from it in 2018. Since then, Iran has regularly violated the agreement to limit its nuclear program. , and last year, international inspectors concluded that he again had enough fuel to make a bomb.

Mr. Malley currently heads the International Crisis Group in Washington, a conflict resolution organization. He was chosen despite accusations by the Tories that he offered too many concessions in the interest of getting a possible deal. His appointment was reported Thursday by Reuters.

One of the senior State Department officials said negotiations were still far behind; the second official disputed reports that the United States and Iran had already entered into indirect talks. The two spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the official announcement of Mr Malley’s appointment.

The first official said Mr Malley and other diplomats would initially consult with leaders in Europe, the Middle East and Congress to ensure any new negotiations reflect their concerns and ideas.

Britain, France and Germany are eager to return to the 2015 deal and have tried to keep it intact even as Tehran overstepped its limits. But Israel and Muslim countries in the Middle East have long opposed the deal, in part because it has done virtually nothing to respond to Iran’s other military threats, including its missile program and its support for proxy militias in the region.

Senior congressional officials on both sides of the political aisle also remain skeptical of a return to the deal.

The chief State Department official said that US negotiators would ultimately seek a “longer, stronger but also broader deal” to curb Iran’s missiles and proxies – another strategy Tehran has already refused to consider.

But it echoes what the Trump administration demanded when it pulled out of the 2015 deal and imposed a pressure campaign of harsh sanctions and military threats against Iran and its senior officials.

The State Department official said there was hope for “a way forward,” noting the dire state of Iran’s economy. But he wouldn’t give details, including whether sanctions relief could be offered as a good faith move, except to dismiss any comparison to the Trump administration’s lobbying campaign.

Mr Malley will oversee a team of negotiators and experts who will bring what Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Wednesday described as “divergent perspectives” on the issue.

Even before Mr Malley’s appointment, Tories accused him of being too accommodating to Iran and Israel, based on his background as a senior Middle Eastern affairs official under the Obama and Clinton administrations . Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, declared opponent of the nuclear deal, written on twitter that the selection of Mr. Malley would be “deeply disturbing”.

A public statement supporting his appointment, signed by dozens of foreign policy experts and former US officials, called Mr. Malley “one of the United States’ most respected foreign policy experts” and a “wise analyst and accomplished diplomat”.

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Biden appoints personal physician Kevin O’Connor as White House physician

WASHINGTON – President Biden has chosen his longtime doctor, Dr Kevin O’Connor, to become his White House doctor, an official said on Monday.

Retired Army Colonel Dr O’Connor succeeds Dr Sean P. Conley in a role that has sparked unusual scrutiny during President Donald J. Trump’s administration amid accusations that he and his predecessor had exaggerated Mr. Trump’s health.

At 78, Mr. Biden is the longest-serving president in U.S. history. His selection of Dr O’Connor brings on board a doctor with whom he has a long-standing personal relationship.

Dr O’Connor was Mr Biden’s physician when he was Vice President and he continued to serve as a physician after his departure. “He never asked me if I was a Republican or a Democrat,” Dr. O’Connor once said of Mr. Biden.

An osteopathic physician, Dr. O’Connor began serving as a White House physician in 2006, when President George W. Bush was in office.

In December 2019, Mr. Biden’s campaign released a three-page memo from Dr. O’Connor in which he described Mr. Biden as “healthy” and “vigorous,” adding that he was “fit to successfully perform the functions of the presidency. , to include these as Director General, Head of State and Commander-in-Chief. “

Three decades earlier, Mr. Biden, then a senator from Delaware, had a deadly health fear. In 1988, just months after ending his first presidential candidacy, he underwent emergency surgery for a brain aneurysm. He underwent another operation months later for a second brain aneurysm and returned to the Senate that year after a long absence. Dr O’Connor wrote in his 2019 memo that Mr Biden “has never had an aneurysm recurrence.”

More recently, after Mr Biden was elected in November, Dr O’Connor provided information on Mr Biden’s state of health after he slipped while playing with one of his dogs and was or fractured the foot.

The hiring of Dr O’Connor was reported earlier Monday by ABC News. His predecessor, Dr Conley, was put in the spotlight after Mr Trump announced in early October that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and was subsequently hospitalized. But Dr Conley quickly drew criticism for making misleading comments about Mr Trump’s state of health; an infectious disease expert described him as “a spin doctor, not a doctor”, and Dr Conley admitted he had sought to “reflect the optimistic attitude” of Mr Trump.

Dr Conley is reassigned to the Navy, according to the official who confirmed Dr O’Connor’s hiring.

Dr Conley succeeded Dr Ronny L. Jackson, who spoke highly of Mr Trump’s health. He said in 2018 that the former president had “amazing genes” and said: “I told the president that if he had a healthier diet for the past 20 years, he could live to 200 years.”

Later that year, Mr. Trump appointed Dr. Jackson as head of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr Jackson withdrew from the exam after charges of inappropriate behavior in the workplace, and Mr Trump later appointed him as his chief medical adviser.

Dr. Jackson now serves in Washington in another capacity: as a member of Congress. In November, he was elected to the House as the Republican of Texas.

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Biden appoints former CIA deputy to return to work

WASHINGTON – President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has asked David S. Cohen to return as deputy chief of the CIA, placing an official who knows the agency well alongside the veteran diplomat he chose from the lead, Biden’s transition team announced on Friday.

Mr. Cohen had been seen as one of the top contenders for the agency’s director, but Mr. Biden instead appointed William J. Burns, who held a variety of high-profile diplomatic posts. Because Mr. Burns has never worked for the CIA, bringing back Mr. Cohen gives him a deputy he trusts within the agency who could be a likely successor.

And since the post of MP does not require confirmation from the Senate, Mr. Cohen will be able to begin working as Acting Director of the CIA on the day of the inauguration, while Mr. Burns’ appointment is under consideration. .

In discussions with transition officials, Cohen outlined an ambitious agenda for the CIA to strengthen its work in critical areas, including global climate change and health issues.

During the Obama administration, Mr. Cohen was involved in the CIA’s assessment that Russia was seeking to intervene in the 2016 election to aid in the election of President Trump.

Mr Cohen told Biden’s transition team that intelligence agencies need to broaden their scrutiny of foreign interference in the United States. Mr Cohen, according to people close to his point of view, believes the government needs to move beyond electoral interference to also consider how foreign powers may try to provide support or influence extremist groups.

Mr. Cohen, 57, has a close working relationship with Avril D. Haines, Mr. Biden’s candidate for director of national intelligence. Ms Haines was deputy director of the CIA before Mr Cohen, and the two worked closely together in the “committee of deputies” of the National Security Council.

Ms Haines’ confirmation hearing was scheduled to take place on Friday, but it was postponed as Republicans and Democrats debated how to schedule an in-person question-and-answer session amid security concerns during the coronavirus pandemic .

The close ties between them “will serve the agency extremely well,” said Admiral William H. McRaven, retired former chief of Special Operations Command. Mr. Cohen, Admiral McRaven added, “has the experience, leadership skills, temperament and respect for the entire intelligence community.”

Current and former intelligence officials spoke warmly of Mr Cohen’s first stint at the agency, highlighting both his advocacy for the CIA within the Obama administration and his ability to quickly convince his colleagues.

“He’s a great listener,” said John O. Brennan, a former director. “From the moment he arrived, he felt very comfortable, and that’s something people picked up on because he became a strong supporter and advocate for the agency.

Mr. Cohen is also an enthusiastic table tennis player, dominating CIA charity fundraising matches, according to an official.

More seriously, said former officials, Mr. Cohen has shown a skillful hand in handling the concerns of CIA line officers. After the 2016 election, he called together CIA personnel from demographic groups Mr. Trump had insulted during the campaign, including Muslim and Hispanic officers, telling them the agency would continue to value diversity and support their career, according to former officials.

Prior to his first stint with the CIA, Mr. Cohen was the Treasury Department’s Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence from 2011 to 2015. In this capacity, he chaired a team of 700 people, traveled extensively and worked with diplomats and foreign intelligence officers. to strengthen support for the Obama administration’s sanctions against Iran.

His in-depth knowledge of Islamic State’s oil smuggling attempts in 2014 has earned him the nickname “Financial Batman” in the Obama White House.

“He came across Treasury and CIA officers as exceptionally intelligent, especially on issues related to terrorism and international money flows,” said David Priess, a former CIA officer who now works at Lawfare. Institute. “And they also found him to be just fun to brief, not a hard personality to work with at all.”

Mr Cohen, along with Mr Biden’s other intelligence choices, are expected to follow recommendations from the House Intelligence Committee which called for a transfer of resources to focus more on China. This is an area of ​​bipartisan agreement: Members of the Republican House have also called for more resources to counter China, and under John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, the Trump administration has spearheaded new efforts to strengthen the collecting information about the country.

Mr. Cohen is hardly known beyond Washington, although after the end of the Obama administration he made an appearance as a scruffy commoner in the HBO series “Game of Thrones”. When the CIA posted a photo of his appearance on Twitter, Mr. Cohen joked, “Way to blow up my blanket!”

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Pelosi appoints nine Democrats who will lead the impeachment effort.

President Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday named nine Democrats responsible for President Trump’s impeachment trial for instigating a violent mob of her supporters to storm the Capitol, where rioters ransacked the U.S. government headquarters and killed a police officer from the Capitol.

The nine directors, all lawyers, have expertise in constitutional law, civil rights and law enforcement. They will serve as new faces of the impeachment campaign after Americans got used last year to see Representatives Adam Schiff, Democrat of California and chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and chairman of the Judicial Commission, as leaders of Mr. Trump’s first impeachment trial.

The managers come from across the country and represent different ideological wings of the party. Of the nine, seven are people of color, LGBTQ or women.

With Democrats in control of the House, Mr. Trump is likely to become the first US president to be impeached twice.

“It is their constitutional and patriotic duty to present the case for the impeachment and impeachment of the president,” Pelosi said of those responsible for the impeachment. “They will do so guided by their great love for the country, their determination to protect our democracy and their loyalty to our oath to the Constitution.”

Ms Pelosi has appointed Representative Jamie Raskin, a Maryland constitutional attorney who drafted the impeachment article, as senior director of Mr Trump’s trial. Mr. Raskin, who lost his 25-year-old son to suicide on New Year’s Eve and then survived the mob attack, is a professor of constitutional law at the Washington College of Law at the American University.

“I am honored to be part of a team of extremely distinguished lawyers and representatives,” said Mr. Raskin. “We have a huge responsibility on our shoulders right now.”

Others responsible for the indictment are: Representatives Diana DeGette of Colorado, a civil rights lawyer; David Cicilline of Rhode Island, former public defender; Joaquin Castro of Texas, a lawyer; Eric Swalwell of California, a former prosecutor; Ted Lieu of California, former Air Force officer and prosecutor; Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands, a former prosecutor; Joe Neguse of Colorado, a lawyer; and Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania, also a lawyer.

Most Democrats are expected to back Mr. Trump’s impeachment after spending weeks spreading unfounded lies about widespread electoral fraud, then staging a large rally where he encouraged a crowd to march on Capitol Hill as he sought to pressure lawmakers to overturn the results of a democratic election. Four Republicans have announced that they too will vote to impeach the president.

Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the 3rd House Republican, said on Tuesday that she would vote to impeach Mr. Trump, adding that there has “never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States. United States “as Mr. Trump’s incitement to the Mafia.

“Good for her for having honored her oath of office,” Pelosi said of Cheney, adding that she wished “more Republicans to honor their oaths.”

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Biden appoints former EPA chief Gina McCarthy as White House climate coordinator

WASHINGTON – President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is set to choose Gina McCarthy, a former director of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Barack Obama and the architect of some of his most ambitious regulations to limit emissions of greenhouse gases, to serve as the White House’s senior advisor on climate change, according to three people close to Biden’s transition team.

As an adviser to the White House, Ms. McCarthy will coordinate national climate policies within the United States government, playing a central role in helping Mr. Biden deliver on his election promise to put the United States on track to achieve carbon neutrality before 2050.

Mr Biden also intends to appoint Ali Zaidi, the New York state assistant secretary for energy and environment, who helped draft Mr Biden’s climate plan, as Ms deputy. McCarthy.

McCarthy, who since January has served as chairman of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, is joining the ranks of former senior Obama administration officials in senior positions in the Biden administration. Supporters of stronger action to tackle climate change said his appointment would send a signal that the administration was ready to bypass Congress and adopt measures by using the executive branch to start cutting back on greenhouse gases. Greenhouse.

His international counterpart is former Secretary of State John Kerry, whom Biden called on to urge other countries to take more ambitious action as the United States braces itself after four years of non-compliance. climate change under President Trump, to revive their own efforts.

“A new era of climate responsibility is upon us,” former Vice President Al Gore said in a statement. “The United States is back on the job.”

He called Ms McCarthy “a perfect fit for the job” and said her appointment, along with that of Mr Kerry, “affirms that Joe Biden is keen on America leading by example and leading to deep cuts in earnings. pollution and climate emissions. “

As an administrator of the EPA, Ms. McCarthy developed the Clean Power Plan, which set the very first national limits on carbon emissions from power plants. She also advanced the rules to reduce mercury emissions from power plants, increase the fuel efficiency of automobiles and limit methane leaks from oil and gas wells.

All of these measures were rejected by the coal, gas and oil industries and ultimately repealed or weakened by the Trump administration.

Lawmakers in fossil fuel-dependent states who have clashed with Ms McCarthy in the past have expressed concern about the prospect of tighter regulations.

“America needs leaders who will promote both a growing economy and a healthy environment,” said Sen. John Barrasso, the Republican of Wyoming who will take the top spot on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. ‘next year. “The Obama administration’s punitive regulations have hurt Wyoming workers and stifled the US economy.”

The role of a senior advisor on climate change is not entirely new. The Obama administration called on Carol Browner, a former EPA chief, to be its director of climate policy, and in his second term called on John Podesta, founder of the Liberal Center for American Progress, to be its advisor on climate change.

But Ms McCarthy’s new post – which should be located in the White House and have its own staff, as well as the authority to work between agencies – suggests the role may have much more influence than before.

Senator Edward J. Markey called it “a very strong signal to every federal agency that the president is serious and that he wants to see concrete steps each agency is taking to telescope the time frame it will take to implement.” meaningful measures. place to face the climate crisis.

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Biden appoints two Obama White House veterans to new roles

WASHINGTON – President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday appointed two senior Obama White House officials to key positions, putting Susan Rice, a former national security adviser, in charge of his Homeland Policy Council and appointing President Barack Obama’s personal CEO, Denis McDonough, to be secretary of veterans affairs.

Both choices were surprises, especially the decision to place a lifelong national security professional like Ms. Rice in a high-level position in domestic politics. At the same time, they reflect Mr Biden’s desire to populate the upper levels of his new administration with people he knows well and with whom he has worked closely in the past.

Ms. Rice’s appointment also helps Biden deliver on his commitment to diversity by installing a black woman to a White House post with major influence on a wide range of federal policies, from education to healthcare. health through racial equity.

Like Ms Rice, Mr McDonough, who if confirmed to take charge of the Department of Veterans Affairs, a politically important agency long known for its dysfunctions and scandals, has a history of security national. He was a foreign policy assistant on Capitol Hill, then deputy national security adviser to President Barack Obama before becoming his chief of staff.

During the Obama administration, Mr. McDonough and Ms. Rice spent countless hours with Mr. Biden, then Vice President, in the Oval Office and Situation Room. People familiar with their selection said the president-elect viewed them both as tenacious managers with a deep understanding of federal bureaucracy.

Ms Rice’s friendship with Mr Biden led to speculation that he would choose her as his running mate, but he chose Senator Kamala Harris of California instead.

Although Mr McDonough’s selection was unexpected, former colleagues have said he has a keen interest in military families under the Obama administration, as well as the infamous backlog of cases within the vast department that manages health care and other benefits for veterans. He also travels regularly to combat zones and often visits wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Mr. McDonough’s wife, Kari, is the co-founder and president of an organization that helps veterans reintegrate into their communities.

“If you know Denis McDonough, it’s no surprise that the AV would literally be the guy’s dream government position,” said Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security adviser. ‘Obama. “He’s driven by veterans issues in a way he’s not driven by anything else, including national security issues.

Mr. Rhodes recalled many instances where he “was taking a walk down the west wing around 9pm on a Tuesday and the guy was visiting 10 wounded warriors.”

Mr McDonough, 51, is said to be only the second head of the Department of Veterans Affairs since he supplanted the Veterans Administration in 1989 for not serving in the military. The other was President Trump’s first secretary, David Shulkin, whom the Senate confirmed by unanimous consent.

The appointment of Ms. Rice, 56, was an even bigger surprise. Many long-time domestic policy experts in the Democratic Party complained privately on Thursday that Mr Biden had ignored candidates with direct experience on issues such as education and the economy.

A Stanford graduate and Rhodes scholar, Rice joined the staff of President Bill Clinton’s National Security Council in 1993 and became Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. She returned to government under Obama, first as an ambassador to the United Nations, then as a national security adviser, a post she held for four years.

After leaving the government with the election of Mr. Trump, Ms. Rice became an opinion writer for the New York Times for three years. His last column for The Times was published on December 1.

She has been a two-time finalist for Secretary of State, first under Mr. Obama and more recently when Mr. Biden assembled his national security team. But she was ignored twice, in part because of concern over a potentially bloody confirmation fight.

Republicans have targeted Ms. Rice for comments she made shortly after the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on a US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, downplaying terrorism as a motive. In an election year, they turned the attack into a major political issue, naming her and Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State. Ms. Rice’s allies said she had been the victim of defamation and discrimination and noted that congressional inquiries had not revealed any wrongdoing on her part.

Ms. Rice’s new post does not require confirmation from the Senate. In a statement announcing his appointment, Mr Biden’s transition team said it “knows the government inside and out and will implement the president-elect’s vision of a newly empowered domestic policy council and will stimulate efforts to build back better.

Established in 1993, the Home Policy Council – like its national security counterpart that Rice headed – coordinates national policy making within the federal government, with the exception of many economic issues overseen by the Economic Council. national.

Mr Rhodes said Ms Rice had worked extensively as a national security adviser on issues that straddled foreign and domestic realms during the Obama administration, including a flood of migrant families at the South American border. and an Ebola epidemic in Africa. “National security and internal borders have been blurry,” especially since the advent of the coronavirus, which will certainly be one of his top priorities, he said.

Melody Barnes, who headed the Home Policy Council under Mr. Obama’s leadership, said Ms. Rice possessed the essential bureaucratic know-how needed to run the organization effectively and noted that she would be supported by an amazing staff. experts.

“She’s an intellectual powerhouse,” Ms. Barnes said. “She has extensive government experience and knows how to manage a process and work with departments and agencies, which is an essential part of the director’s job.

Ms. Rice comes from a family of domestic political enthusiasts. Her mother, Lois Rice, was an educational policy expert often referred to as “the mother of the Pell Scholarship” because of her key lobbying role behind the federal college grant created in 1965.

A pioneer black woman in government, Rice also has a serious racial justice problem. Ms Barnes noted that the Home Policy Council would play a central role in Mr Biden’s efforts to advance racial equity.

A period of service in home affairs could also help position Rice for a future candidacy. She recently considered running for the Senate in Maine, a state where she has family roots, and was a finalist to become Mr Biden’s vice-presidential candidate.

Much like Ms. Rice, Mr. McDonough, a graduate of St. John’s University of Minnesota and the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, is known to be a demanding and uncompromising manager, eager for confusion and delay. If confirmed, he will oversee a department whose size is matched only by its seemingly intractable problems.

It is the second-largest government department, with around 375,000 employees and a budget of more than $ 200 billion, that funds a struggling health care system that has been under immense strain after the invasions of the Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr Biden hopes Mr McDonough can apply the managerial sense he developed as a chief of staff to make the struggling department more effective and efficient.

During the Obama administration, officials at a Phoenix medical center were found to have manipulated data regarding long wait times for veterans that could have resulted in the deaths of patients. This led to the departure of Eric Shinseki, the then secretary, and Mr McDonough helped push through legislation to give veterans access to care outside the ministry system.

Mr Rhodes said Mr McDonough had become “obsessed” with cruelly long wait times for health care and made it a top priority when he was chief of staff.

Mr Trump has placed the struggling department at the center of his own political agenda and has pushed to expand veterans’ access to private care. Its most recent secretary, Robert L. Wilkie, has eschewed traditional veterans organizations and many lawmakers in favor of conservative groups that championed private care, most notably Concerned Veterans for America, an advocacy group with ties to the brothers. billionaire industrialists Charles G. and David H. Koch.

The ministry became deeply politicized and faced additional problems caused by an expensive electronic medical records system, the rollout of its expanded community care program, and a highly critical Inspector General’s report on Mr Wilkie’s treatment. a case of sexual assault reported in a hospital in the department.

In a statement, Will Fischer, senior adviser to the liberal veterans group VoteVets, admitted that few had seen Mr McDonough’s selection coming. “Some may say this choice is unexpected and out of left field,” he said, but called the choice a “grand slam”.

“What the VA needs, more than anything, is an experienced manager, with in-depth knowledge of how the agency works, how it interacts with other agencies and how to quickly rebuild the agency, even better He said.

Mr. Biden plans to introduce Mr. McDonough and Ms. Rice at a public event in Wilmington, Del., Friday afternoon.

Michael D. Shear, Jennifer steinhauer and Jim Tankersley contribution to reports.

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Video: Biden appoints first black Secretary of Defense

new video loaded: Biden appoints first black Secretary of Defense



Biden appoints first black Secretary of Defense

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday officially named General Lloyd J. Austin III, a retired four-star army general, as his choice to head the Department of Defense. General Austin, who retired from the military four years ago, would need a waiver from Congress to become head of the Pentagon.

“He is loved by the men and women of the armed forces, feared by our adversaries, known and respected by our allies and he shares my deep conviction in the values ​​of American alliances. “I understand the important role of the Ministry of Defense and the role it plays in maintaining stability and deterring aggression, as well as defending and supporting critical alliances around the world, including in Asia. -Pacific, in Europe and in the world. And I firmly believe that, as you said before, sir, America is strongest when it works with its allies. “We must also guide the Department of Defense into the future, rebuild and renew global alliances and partnerships, and ensure that the United States is prepared to face new threats and challenges, from cyber to climate. “

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Jennifer Psaki to serve as press secretary as Biden appoints all-female communications team

WASHINGTON – President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Sunday announced the creation of an all-female White House communications team, with Obama administration veteran Jennifer Psaki in the most visible role of attaché press release from the White House.

“Communicating directly and honestly to the American people is one of the most important jobs of a president,” Biden said in a statement, contrasting implicitly with the Trump administration’s use of the hall. information from the White House to spread lies and try to undermine the credibility of the news media.

The transition team also announced that Kate Bedingfield, 39, who served as deputy campaign manager for Mr Biden, will take on the role of White House communications director. Karine Jean Pierre, who was previously in charge of public affairs for, will be the senior deputy press secretary. Pili Tobar, a former immigrant advocate for America’s Voice, will be the deputy director of communications for the White House.

Symone Sanders, Mr Biden’s senior campaign adviser, will serve as senior adviser and chief spokesperson for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Ashley Etienne, former senior advisor to President Nancy Pelosi, will be Ms. Harris’ director of communications.

“President-elect Biden has a history of advocating for women in the United States and around the world, and today’s announcement is a continuation of that work,” said Ron Klain, the new chief of staff. , in a press release.

Ms Psaki, 41, was previously White House communications director for President Barack Obama and State Department spokesperson under Secretary of State John Kerry.

On TwitterMs Psaki said she saw her work as an attempt to “restore the confidence of the American people” and noted that many of the women on the team, including herself, were also mothers of young children. She said she plans to “think outside the box” on how to use the podium to make the Biden-Harris agenda more accessible to the public. She did not say whether she planned to resume the daily press briefing.

But that was still a contrast to how the four press secretaries who worked for President Trump saw their roles. During her first press briefing in May, current White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany vowed to never lie to the press, but found that wish immediately tested. She has since flipped between speaking on behalf of the administration and speaking as a political agent on behalf of Mr. Trump’s campaign, blurring the line between government and politics.

Other Trump press secretaries have suppressed the daily press briefing altogether or used it as a tool to spread lies and address the proverbial audience of one who often watched and rated their performances from the TV in the room dining room from the Oval Office.

Sean Spicer, Mr. Trump’s first White House press secretary, set the tone for the administration by wrongly claiming that the president’s inauguration crowd was “the largest public ever to attend an inauguration, period. final, both in person and in the world ”.

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Biden appoints a Cuban-born lawyer to head the Department of Homeland Security.

“Do I think he’s further to the left of center than I would like?” Yes, ”Mr. Sweet said, adding,“ There’s no question he’s qualified for the job, period. “

Rand Beers, the Obama administration’s former acting homeland security secretary, said Mr. Biden’s choice was a clear signal that while immigration would be a priority for the department, the new administration would also strengthen its other responsibilities, such as as cybersecurity and disasters.

Mr Beers said Mr Mayorkas balanced vigilance over security threats with an interest in helping immigrants in need, highlighting his work verifying visa applications for Iraqis who have helped the US military. Mr Beers said Mr Mayorkas pushed his teams to undergo exhaustive reviews of intelligence reports in order to find communications between the candidates and suspected terrorists.

“He basically took this seriously and said we can’t ignore these reports, but we also can’t assume the level of contact,” Beers said. “He is caring, analytical and human.”

At the Homeland Security Department, Mayorkas led the agency’s response to the Ebola and Zika outbreaks, an extremely relevant experience at the moment, Biden’s transition team said on Monday. As Homeland Security Secretary, Mayorkas would oversee the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has played a leading role in helping state governments tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

“He has seen all the effects of Covid-19 in all segments of the economy and affecting all kinds of people, and he’s been immersed in that for months,” said Jamie Gorelick, partner in his law firm , WilmerHale, and former assistant. Attorney General for the Clinton administration. Ms Gorelick asked Mr Mayorkas to lead the law firm’s coronavirus task force for clients.

Mr Mayorkas also paid particular attention to Mr Trump’s efforts to overhaul the immigration system, Ms Gorelick said.