PHOTO CREDITS: JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS
Joe Biden has nominated his secretary of state, Antony Blinken — a foreign affairs adviser to Biden’s campaign who served under both President Obama and President Clinton.
Incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain said earlier Sunday that Biden intended to begin revealing members of his Cabinet Tuesday, which the Biden team carried out Tuesday morning. Blinken was among the first nominations, with Biden intent on sending a signal that rebuilding America’s alliances is one of his top priorities in foreign policy (NY Post).
A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School and a longtime Democratic foreign policy presence, Blinken has aligned himself with numerous former senior national security officials who have called for a major reinvestment in American diplomacy and renewed emphasis on global engagement.
Sources close to Biden’s Cabinet-choosing process told the New York Times of Blinken’s likely nomination as the nation’s top diplomat Sunday. Blinken, 58, has worked in various capacities with Biden for nearly 20 years. Blinken had served as Biden’s top aide on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Times reported. When Biden was vice president, Blinken was his national security adviser. If confirmed by the Senate, Blinken will be tasked with repairing relationships with close allies across the globe. The longtime foreign policy adviser will also be asked to address a State Department dramatically altered under Trump, including staffing up an organization that was subject to a hiring freeze (NY Post).
“Democracy is in retreat around the world, and unfortunately it’s also in retreat at home because of the president taking a two-by-four to its institutions, its values and its people every day,” Blinken told The Associated Press in September. “Our friends know that Joe Biden knows who they are. So do our adversaries. That difference would be felt on day one.”
Blinken served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration before becoming staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel. In the early years of the Obama administration, Blinken returned to the NSC and was then-Vice President Biden’s national security adviser before he moved to the State Department to serve as deputy to Secretary of State John Kerry (Inquirer).
Former career diplomat James Melville told CNN he cheered when he saw the news of Biden’s decision. “Tony was a terrific deputy secretary. He is brilliant and kind and would be a wonderful and very effective leader of what will have to be one of the most monumental tasks in diplomacy, cleaning up the stables after the worst president and secretary of state we have ever had,” he said. A current State Department official told CNN that Biden “couldn’t have picked a stronger choice to demonstrate his commitment to diplomacy and the diplomatic corps, much less the partnerships and alliances that make us strong.”
The State Department transition team is still waiting for the General Services Administration’s ascertainment of Biden’s victory to kick off the formal transition process. But for now, the Biden State Department transition team and the career-led transition team at the department are still unable to have official contact, and State Department officials remain in the dark about what it will take for GSA to formally recognize Biden as the winner. T
he State transition team has everything ready to share with the Biden team, including briefing materials on each region and each policy, data on the budget and staffing. “It is all setup. We are all ready to go,” the official said. The official added that right now, before ascertainment, “there is a limit on what you can do in this sort of limbo status that you are in,” (CNN).
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