Declaring "America is back," President-elect Joe Biden introduced his national security team on Tuesday, his first substantive offering of how he’ll shift from Trump-era "America First" policies by relying on experts from the Democratic establishment to be some of his most important advisers. "Together, these public servants will restore America globally, its global leadership and its moral leadership," Biden said from a theater in Wilmington, Delaware. "It’s a team that reflects the fact that America is back, ready to lead the world, not retreat from it." The nominees are all Washington veterans with ties to former President Barack Obama’s administration, a sign of Biden’s effort to resume some form of normalcy after the tumult of President Trump’s four years in office.
Biden's nominees were a clear departure from Trump, whose Cabinet has largely consisted of men, almost all of them white, the AP reports. Biden's picks included several women and people of color, some of whom would break barriers if confirmed to 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.
- The president-elect’s team includes Antony Blinken, a veteran foreign policy hand well-regarded on Capitol Hill whose ties to Biden go back some 20 years, for secretary of state; lawyer Alejandro Mayorkas to be homeland security secretary; veteran diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be US ambassador to the United Nations; and Obama White House alumnus Jake Sullivan as national security adviser.
- Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, was picked to serve as director of national intelligence, the first woman to hold that post, and former Secretary of State John Kerry will make a curtain call as a special envoy on climate change. Kerry and Sullivan’s positions will not require Senate confirmation.
- Biden said his choices "reflect the idea that we cannot meet these challenges with old thinking and unchanged habits." He said he tasked them with reasserting global and moral leadership, a clear swipe at Trump, who has resisted many traditional foreign alliances.
- Biden celebrated the diversity of his picks, offering a particularly poignant tribute to Thomas-Greenfield. The eldest 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 selections, Biden is achieving much more than a changing of the guard.
- Mayorkas, who is Cuban American, offered a nod to his immigrant upbringing. "My father and mother brought me to this country to escape communism," he said. "They cherished our democracy, and were intensely proud to become United States citizens, as was I."
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