Joe Biden and his team have just confirmed a series of staff picks including some that were telegraphed ahead of time (John Kerry, the one-time Democratic presidential nominee back in 2004, to serve as Climate envoy) though none of the picks were really a surprise, as Biden has shown a preference for lobbyists and established Democratic players.
Another former Obama Administration player, Avril Haines, who notably served as the first female deputy Director of the CIA, and later as Obama’s Deputy Director of National Intelligence, will serve as Biden’s Director of National Intelligence. In that role, Haines will share responsibility for the president’s daily intelligence briefings.
Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the US Department of State Linda Thomas-Greenfield, also a longtime Obama administration official, is likely to become the new US ambassador to the United Nations.
In another major “first”, Alejandro Mayorkas will serve as the first latino Secretary of Homeland Security, after serving in a deputy role during the Obama Administration. Mayorkas isn’t widely known to the public, but he did play a key role in one Obama-era scandal, when he was implicated for exerting “improper influence” over granting immigration benefits to politically connected individuals.
Perhaps the most high-profile choice might surprise many Americans: Antony Blinken, a top advisor who has advised Biden on foreign policy since 2002, will serve as Secretary of State (he also once served as a deputy secretary of state during the Obama-Biden days).
Finally, Jake Sullivan, an established Democratic player and former chief of staff to Secretary of State Clinton, will serve as Biden’s National Security Advisor.
The biggest unanswered question so far is whether Janet Yellen (former Fed chair) or Lael Brainard (a member of the Fed’s board of governors) will be selected to serve as Secretary of the Treasury over Elizabeth Warren. Though, at this point, with the central bank pivoting toward pursuing racial and economic equality, whether the truly ‘progressive’ candidate gets in or not is almost a moot point.