(LR) U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and Secretary of State John Kerry listen as President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki speak to reporters in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, 1. November 2013.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
WASHINGTON – President-elect Joe Biden announced his proposed candidates for the highest national security positions on Monday and assembled a team of seasoned institutionalists to fill his new cabinet.
In addition to his previously announced plan to appoint Antony Blinken as Secretary of State and Jake Sullivan as National Security Advisor, Biden announced he will appoint Alejandro Mayorkas as head of the Department of Homeland Security and Avril Haines as director of National Intelligence.
Blinken is a well-known figure in national security circles and has worked as an advisor to Biden for decades, where he has built a reputation as a pragmatic realist and strong supporter of multilateral institutions.
Sullivan is a former top adviser to Hillary Clinton who joined Biden’s inner circle during the presidential campaign. Sullivan previously said that effective US foreign policy is rooted in strong domestic democratic institutions.
Blinken and Sullivan are expected to take the lead on several of Biden’s top priorities in his first 100 days in office: resuming and strengthening the Paris Agreement, resuming and reviving the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal with Iran and resume the World Health Organization.
Sullivan also said Biden intends to organize a summit of global democracies early in his first term, part of a broader attempt to build a united front to counter the creeping autocracy in countries like Russia and China.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a career officer in the U.S. External Action Service, is nominated as United Nations Ambassador, a post that will be promoted to cabinet level in the Biden administration.
Biden also announced that he will appoint former Secretary of State John Kerry as the President’s Special Envoy on Climate and join the National Security Council. For the first time, a senior climate envoy was officially part of the NSC.
“America will soon have a government that sees the climate crisis as an urgent threat to national security,” Kerry tweeted after the announcement. “I am proud to work with the president-elect, our allies and the young leaders of the climate movement to address this crisis as the president’s climate commissioner.”
From a statement by the Biden transition team:
• Antony Blinken, a former assistant secretary of state, is named secretary of state who previously held senior foreign policy roles on Capitol Hill, the White House, and the State Department.
• Alejandro Mayorkas, a former DHS assistant secretary who has been elected three times in his career by the US Senate, will be the first Latino and immigrant to be nominated as secretary for the Department of Homeland Security.
• Avril Haines, former CIA deputy director and deputy national security adviser, is named director of National Intelligence and becomes the first woman to lead the intelligence community.
• Jake Sullivan has been named National Security Advisor and will be one of the youngest to have served in this role in decades.
The White House legislative team is taking shape
On the previous Monday, Biden also announced two more high-profile appointments in the White House: Reema Dodin and Shuwanza Goff, who will both serve as assistant directors in the White House’s Legislative Office. Dodin is a graduate of Senator Dick Durbin’s Illinois office, where she most recently served as assistant chief of staff and floor director.
Like Dodin, Goff comes to the White House from Capitol Hill, where she is a longtime advisor to the House’s Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer, and most recently served as the House’s floor director. Both Goff and Dodin will report to the Obama administration alum Louisa Terrell, who was won last week as director of legislative affairs at the White House.
Terrell, Goff, and Dodin are tasked with converting Biden’s election pledges into actual laws that stand a chance of battle in what is likely to be a closely separated House and Senate. At the top of their agenda is an extensive coronavirus aid package, which Republicans and Democrats say will have to be passed shortly after Biden takes office in late January.
This is a developing story. Please check again for updates.