Joe Biden to name longtime ally Antony Blinken as his secretary of state, according to people familiar with the process.
Blinken, 58, served as Biden’s national security adviser during President Barack Obama’s first term, then became the president’s deputy national security adviser.
Biden is also expected to name another close associate, Jake Sullivan, as national security adviser. Sullivan, 43, was a former advisor to Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state and succeeded Blinken as Biden’s national security adviser.
Biden is expected to officially unveil his first round of cabinet appointments tomorrow, Ron Klain, the new White House chief of staff, told ABC’s “This Week” yesterday. This puts Biden well ahead of the usual pace of presidents-elect, as he advances through the transition process despite President Trump’s refusal to cooperate. To add to the pressure on Trump, more than 100 CEOs plan to urge the administration today to begin the transition process.
When asked about CNN’s “State of the Union” if the cabinet would include more progressives than Obama’s, Jennifer Psaki, a senior advisor to Biden, said he “would look like the America ”in terms of ideology and context.
If the two Democratic candidates for the Senate in Georgia do not both win their second round of elections in January, Biden will become the first president in more than 30 years to take office with the opposing party controlling the chamber. That means he may run into roadblocks as he seeks to confirm his cabinet appointments.
Even if Democratic nominees Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff score victories, Biden is likely to have made many of his cabinet decisions before the second round – and the daunting prospect of persuading a Republican Senate to confirm his nominations will have been taken into account in its decision-making process anyway.
The possible appointment of Senator Bernie Sanders, who is under consideration for the post of secretary at work, has emerged as a point of contention. In times gone by, it would be almost unimaginable for a sitting senator to have his own confirmation blocked by colleagues in the Senate. But times have changed.
On that note, how absurd is too absurd for the Trump campaign when it comes to making unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud? Sidney Powell, who until yesterday was a senior member of President Trump’s legal team, just found out.
Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, two of the president’s other lawyers, released a brief statement last night, announcing that Powell was no longer “a member of Trump’s legal team,” adding, “She is also not the President’s lawyer in her personal capacity.”
Last week, Powell stood by Giuliani and Ellis and rolled out an elaborate conspiracy theory claiming Latin American leftists conspired to kick off the Democrats’ election. In another appearance, she argued that Republican officials in Georgia were involved in the scheme and cashed in on it.
Even some of Trump’s staunchest allies have ridiculed these claims. During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Chris Christie said Trump’s legal team had become “a national embarrassment.”
But what might have bothered Trump even more was the humiliating loss he suffered in court over the weekend, when a Pennsylvania federal judge rejected his attorneys’ attempt to declare the election results totally invalid. in this state. (Powell was not directly involved in this case.) Judge Matthew Brann said the campaign presented “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations.” Trump’s lawyers have appealed the decision.
Trump’s team has been busy in recent weeks, sowing disinformation on the legitimate outcome of the election, in a desperate attempt to keep him in power.
But his administration has also worked hard to ensure that when he inevitably steps down, it will be difficult for Biden to go back in many of Trump’s policies.
Even though Trump’s Twitter feed offers a steady stream of unsubstantiated allegations about the election, his actions in the White House suggest he knows he will be leaving soon. He urged senior officials to quickly withdraw their troops from Afghanistan, secure oil drilling leases in Alaska, further weaken environmental protections, upset the Chinese government, carry out executions and undermine any Biden initiative. to restore the Iranian nuclear deal.
Unlike past outgoing presidents, Trump is also rushing to fill scientific panel positions, uphold federal judges, and scrap long-standing healthcare regulations.
In a striking display of political non-cooperation, Steven Mnuchin, the Secretary of the Treasury, refused to allow the Federal Reserve to continue providing credit to struggling businesses or state and local governments through loan programs. emergency set up in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Since May – when the House passed a $ 3 trillion stimulus package, only to see it languish in the Republican-controlled Senate – Democrats argued that another big, ambitious bill was needed to respond to the pandemic.
But now, with Biden on his way to the Oval Office and the economy showing signs of a double-dip recession, his team is urging his allies in Congress to take whatever they can get so the government can raise prices. federal unemployment benefits; give more help to small businesses; and increase funding for virus testing, contact tracing and vaccine distribution.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has approved a much thinner $ 500 billion package. Leading Democrats continue to publicly insist that Republicans meet them closer to their stated goal of a $ 2.4 trillion deal. But there is a growing sense that one action would be better than none, and that a smaller deal might be all that is possible.