WASHINGTON – President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. plans to appoint several top national security picks on Tuesday, his transition office said, including the first Latino to head the Department of Homeland Security, the first woman to head the intelligence community and a former Secretary of State, John Kerry, for being its climate czar.
At an event in Wilmington, Del., Mr Biden will announce his intention to appoint Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, his transition office said, and Avril Haines as director of national intelligence. He intends to appoint Mr. Kerry as the special presidential climate envoy. The transition office also confirmed on Sunday evening that Mr Biden would appoint Antony J. Blinken as secretary of state and Jake Sullivan as national security adviser.
Mr Biden will also appoint Linda Thomas-Greenfield as Ambassador to the United Nations and reinstate the post at the cabinet level, giving Ms Thomas-Greenfield, an African-American woman, a seat on its National Security Council. Mr Kerry will also have a seat on the board, although his job is not a Cabinet position and does not require Senate confirmation.
The emerging team brings together a group of former senior Obama administration officials, most of whom have worked closely in the State Department and the White House and, in several cases, have close ties to Mr. Biden For years. They are well known to foreign diplomats around the world and share a belief in the core tenets of the democratic foreign policy establishment – international cooperation, strong American alliances and leadership, but mistrust of foreign interventions after the wars in Iraq and Russia. Afghanistan.
Racial and gender diversity also reflects Mr Biden’s stated commitment to diversity, which is notoriously lagging behind in the worlds of foreign policy and national security, where white males are disproportionately represented.
The list of choices also showed Mr. Biden’s determination to move forward with the establishment of his administration despite President Trump’s continued refusal to concede or help him, even as a small number but growing lawmakers and Republican supporters of the president are calling for a formal transition. to begin.
If confirmed, Mr Mayorkas, who served as Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security from 2013 to 2016, would be the first Latino to lead the department responsible for implementing and managing immigration policies. from the country.
An immigrant of Cuban origin whose family fled the Castro Revolution, he is a former US lawyer in California and began Mr. Obama’s first term as Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. He will need to restore confidence in the department after many key Democratic constituencies have come to see him as the ship of some of Mr. Trump’s most controversial policies, such as separating migrant children from their families and building new homes. ‘a wall along the southern border.
Senior Obama administration immigration officials have recommended the appointment of Mr. Mayorkas as a way to build support from the immigrant community while satisfying moderates and career leaders within the agency who seek a leader with experience in law enforcement.
Ms Haines was deputy director of the CIA in the Obama administration before succeeding Mr Blinken as deputy national security adviser to Mr Obama. She is also a former assistant to Mr Biden, who served as a deputy senior adviser to the Senate External Relations Committee from 2007 to 2008, while Mr Biden was chairman. Ms. Haines has also served as legal counsel to Mr. Obama’s National Security Council, helping him navigate the legal issues surrounding counterterrorism operations and pushing for more restraint to reduce civilian casualties.
If confirmed, Ms Haines will be the highest ranked woman to serve in the intelligence community. The director of the CIA, now headed by his first female director in Gina Haspel, reports to the director of national intelligence.
Ms. Thomas-Greenfield is a 35-year-old Foreign Service veteran who has held diplomatic posts around the world. She served from 2013 to 2017 as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. In the eyes of Biden officials, his stint as the former Director General and Director of Human Resources in the Foreign Service is equally important; they see her as positioning her to help restore morale in a State Department where many career managers felt ignored and even undermined during the Trump years.
Ms Thomas-Greenfield, who recently recounted joining a foreign service “still very masculine and very pale” decades ago, has also served as the US Ambassador to Liberia and has been posted to Switzerland, Pakistan, Kenya. , Gambia, Nigeria and Jamaica.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was Mr Biden’s decision to return Mr Kerry to a new role that would mark the new administration’s commitment to tackle climate change. Mr Kerry, 76, is a former colleague and longtime friend of the Senate who campaigned for Mr Biden during some of the darkest days of his candidacy and, Democrats say, retains his voracious appetite for international affairs . Since serving as Mr. Obama’s Second Secretary of State from 2013 to 2017, Kerry has elevated his long-standing interest in climate to his signature issue and currently heads a dedicated climate organization. . He will occupy a full-time position.
“We have no time to waste when it comes to our national security and our foreign policy,” Biden said in a statement provided by his transition office. “I need a team ready on day one to help me reclaim America’s place at the head of the table, rally the world to tackle the biggest challenges we face and move forward our security, our prosperity and our values. This is the heart of this team. “
“These people are just as experienced and tested in a crisis as they are innovative and imaginative,” he added. “Their accomplishments in diplomacy are unmatched, but they also reflect the idea that we cannot meet the profound challenges of this new moment with old thinking and habits unchanged – or without a diversity of context and perspective. That’s why I selected them.
In Mr Blinken, 58, Mr Biden chose a more than 20-year-old confidant who served as his main assistant on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before joining his vice-presidential staff, where he served as a security adviser National Security Officer to Mr. Biden, then Deputy Senior National Security Advisor to Mr. Obama and then Deputy Secretary of State from 2015 to 2017.
Mr. Blinken is widely seen as a pragmatic foreign policy centrist who, like Mr. Biden, has supported past American interventions and believes that the United States must play a central leadership role in the world. Mr Biden likely calculated that the soft-spoken Mr Blinken, who is well regarded by many Republicans, will face a less difficult confirmation fight in the Senate than another leading candidate, the former councilor for the Senate. national security Susan E. Rice.
Mr. Blinken began his career in the State Department during the Clinton administration. He spent much of his youth in Paris and attended high school there, and graduated from Harvard University and Columbia Law School.
Mr Sullivan will assume the role of National Security Leader at the White House and, at 44 when he takes office, he will be the youngest to hold the post after McGeorge Bundy, who took over the post at 41 years under President John F. Kennedy.
Long regarded as one of his party’s brightest upcoming talents, Mr Sullivan followed Mr Blinken as Mr Biden’s senior national security assistant and then became a senior assistant to the secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who called him – a generation of talent. Along the way, Mr Sullivan found admirers, even among conservative Republicans in Congress, while playing a key role in the negotiations leading to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
A native of Minnesota and a graduate of Yale Law School, Mr. Sullivan has helped lead a project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in recent months to redesign American foreign policy around the needs of the American middle class.
Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed reporting.