‘America is back’: Biden announces national security team emerging from Trump era – National


Declaring “America is Back”, US President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday presented his national security team his first substantive offer on how he will move from the “America First” policy of the Trump era relying on experts from the Democratic establishment. some of his most important advisers.

“Together, these officials will restore America to the world, its global leadership and its moral leadership,” Biden said from a theater in his longtime home in Wilmington, Delaware. “It’s a team that reflects America’s back, ready to run the world, not walk away.”

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The nominees are all Washington veterans with ties to the administration of former President Barack Obama, a sign of Biden’s efforts to regain some form of normalcy after the tumult of President Donald Trump’s four years in power. The approach comes with risks, as Republicans plan attacks and progressives fear Biden will exploit some officials who were too cautious and progressive the last time they held power.

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Yet the Biden nominees were clearly deviating from Trump, whose cabinet was largely made up of men, almost all white. Biden’s picks included several women and people of color, some of whom would break down barriers if confirmed in their new positions.

They stood behind Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris spaced apart and wearing masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, a contrast to Trump and many of his top aides who have largely avoided face coverings.

The president-elect’s team includes Antony Blinken, a well-regarded foreign policy veteran on Capitol Hill whose ties to Biden go back about 20 years, for the post of secretary of state; lawyer Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary for internal security; veteran diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield, United States Ambassador to the United Nations; and Jake Sullivan, Obama’s former White House student, as a national security adviser.

Avril Haines, former deputy director of the CIA, has been chosen to fill the post of director of national intelligence, the first woman to hold the post, and former Secretary of State John Kerry will make a curtain call as special correspondent on climate change. Kerry and Sullivan’s position will not require confirmation from the Senate.

With the Senate’s balance of power hinging on two second-round races in Georgia to be decided in January, some Senate Republicans have already expressed their dislike of Biden’s choices as little more than Obama’s retread world.

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US election: Biden chooses Linda Thomas-Greenfield as UN ambassador

US election: Biden chooses Linda Thomas-Greenfield as UN ambassador

Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton and potential 2024 presidential candidate derisively accused Biden of surrounding himself with “panda huggers” who would be lenient on China. Senator Marco Rubio, another potential White House hopeful who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that will review Blinken’s nomination, has largely overturned early selections.

“Biden’s cabinet picks have gone to Ivy League schools, have strong resumes, attend all the right conferences, and will be the polite and orderly guardians of America’s decline,” Rubio tweeted.

Biden said his choices “reflect the idea that we cannot meet these challenges with old thinking and unchanged habits. He said he had given them the task of reasserting global and moral leadership, a blow to Trump, who has resisted many traditional foreign alliances.

The President-elect said he was “struck” by the way world leaders have repeatedly told him in congratulatory calls that they look forward to the United States “reaffirming its historic role as a world leader” under its administration.

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Trump, who recently debated whether to hold another presidential campaign in 2024, appeared to defend his worldview on Tuesday.

“We shouldn’t stray from it – America First,” he said during the annual Turkey Grace, a light tradition before Thanksgiving at the White House.

While Trump expected full loyalty from his cabinet and resented the crackdown on advisers, Biden said he expected advisers to tell me “what I need to know, not what I want to know ”.

In further contrast to Trump, Haines said she accepts Biden’s appointment knowing that “you value the point of view of the intelligence community, and that you will even when what I have to say may be embarrassing or difficult. .

Haines said she “never hesitated to speak the truth to power” and added “it will be my responsibility as director of national intelligence”.

Biden celebrated the diversity of his choices, offering a particularly poignant tribute to Thomas-Greenfield. The oldest of eight children who grew up in segregated Louisiana, she was the first to graduate from high school and college in her family. The diplomat, in turn, said that with his caps, Biden was accomplishing more than a changing of the guard.

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Click to watch video 'US Election: Biden Appoints Jake Sullivan As National Security Advisor'

US election: Biden appoints Jake Sullivan as national security adviser

US election: Biden appoints Jake Sullivan as national security adviser

“My fellow career diplomats and government officials around the world, I want to tell you, ‘America is back, multilateralism is back, diplomacy is back,’” Thomas-Greenfield said.

Mayorkas, who is Cuban-American, also offered a nod to his immigrant education.

“My father and my mother brought me to this country to escape communism,” he said. “They cherished our democracy and were extremely proud to become citizens of the United States, just like me.”

But Mayorkas could pose the toughest confirmation challenge of Biden’s first round of nominees.

The Senate had previously confirmed this in December 2013 with a party line vote to be the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security. The Senate was then controlled by the Democrats, and all Republicans in the House voted against its confirmation mainly because it was then under investigation by the inspector general appointed by Obama in that department. At the time, the Senate Historian’s Office said it was unprecedented for the Senate to vote on a candidate under investigation.

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Inspector General John Roth discovered in March 2015 that Mayorkas, as the director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, appeared to give special treatment to certain people under the visa program which gives residence preference to immigrants who agree to invest in the US economy.

Meanwhile, there were signs on Tuesday that the formal stalled transition of power is now underway.

At the Pentagon, Kash Patel, chief of staff to the acting defense secretary, is leading the department’s transition work. A special transition team has been assembled, led by Tom Muir, the Pentagon bureau chief that provides administrative and management services to all Department of Defense facilities in the Washington area.

Muir said the first meeting with Biden’s team took place virtually Tuesday morning and that he expected daily meetings to take place – some virtually and others in person. He said normal accommodations for Biden’s team had been made, including the provision of briefing equipment, video conferencing capabilities and office space inside the Pentagon.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar also said his agency was working to provide briefing materials to Biden assistants immediately and promised a “professional, cooperative and collaborative” transition.

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The move came a day after the head of the General Service Administration wrote the necessary “verification” letter recognizing Biden as the apparent winner of the election, triggering the transition process.

Click to watch the video `` US Election: Joe Biden Hires Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence ''

US election: Joe Biden hires Avril Haines as director of national intelligence

US election: Joe Biden hires Avril Haines as director of national intelligence

Trump, who continues to press a court challenge to overturn the election results, again refused Tuesday to acknowledge his electoral loss.

Trump tweeted that “the GSA does not determine who will be the next president of the United States.”


Lee and Madhani reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Robert Burns, Washington, contributed to this report.

© 2020 The Canadian Press


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