Biden tipped to name Antony Blinken as secretary of state

WASHINGTON — US President-elect Joe Biden has chosen long-time foreign affairs adviser Antony Blinken to be his secretary of state, Bloomberg reported Sunday.

Biden’s Chief of Staff Ron Klain said first Cabinet picks are coming Tuesday and planning is underway for a pandemic-modified inauguration in January as his team moves forward despite roadblocks from the Trump administration.

Bloomberg, citing three people familiar with the matter, said the first pick would be Blinken, who worked as Biden’s national security adviser in the Obama administration.

He also served as deputy NSA to the president and deputy secretary of state during the Obama administration.

Bloomberg also reported that Jake Sullivan, a former top aide to Hillary Clinton, is likely to be named Biden’s national security adviser.

In a recent interview with the Times of Israel, Blinken, who is Jewish and the stepson of a Holocaust survivor,  highlighted the incoming administration’s commitment to Israel’s security and said it could review a massive arms deal to the UAE as part of preserving Israel’s Quantitative Military Edge.

“One of the things that’s really shaped the vice president’s… career-long support for Israel and its security is the lesson of the Holocaust,” Blinken said earlier this month.

Barack Obama (right) speaking to advisers Tony Blinken (foreground), and Ben Rhodes (background), regarding the Iran nuclear deal, on Sunday, November 24, 2013. (Pete Souza/White House)

“He believes strongly that a secure Jewish homeland in Israel is the single best guarantee to ensure that never again will the Jewish people be threatened with destruction. That’s a profound reason why he’d never walk away from Israel’s security, even at times when he might disagree with some of its policies.”

Biden has pledged to build the most diverse government in modern history, and he and his team often speak about their desire for his administration to reflect America. He is being watched to see whether he will make history by nominating the first woman to lead the Pentagon, the Treasury Department or the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the first African American at the top of the Defense Department, the Interior Department or the Treasury Department.

Biden said last week he had settled on his pick for treasury secretary.

Klain said the Trump administration’s refusal to clear the way for Biden’s team to have access to key information about agencies and federal dollars for the transition is taking its toll on planning, including the Cabinet selection process. Trump’s General Services Administration has yet to acknowledge that Biden won the election — a determination that would remove those roadblocks.

“We’re not in a position to get background checks on Cabinet nominees. And so there are definite impacts. Those impacts escalate every day,” Klain told ABC’s “This Week.”

Even some Republicans have broken with Trump in recent days and called on him to accept the results of the election.

“I, frankly, do think it’s time to — well, it was past time to start a transition, to at least cooperate with the transition,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., on NBC’s ”Meet the Press.” He said the GSA’s designation should happen Monday “because it didn’t happen last Monday morning,” to give the incoming administration “all the time they need.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said there was a “very good chance” Biden would be president and that Biden and his team should have access to relevant information for the transition. After a federal judge’s ruling against the Trump campaign in an election challenge in Pennsylvania on Saturday, GOP Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said the president had “exhausted all plausible legal options” and Toomey congratulated Biden on his win.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Republican-Alaska, speaks with reporters during the impeachment trial of US President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 29, 2020. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said in a statement Sunday that courts had so far found Trump’s claims to be without merit and called a “pressure campaign” on state legislators to influence the electoral outcome unprecedented and inconsistent with the democratic process. “It is time to begin the full and formal transition process,” she said.

Also Sunday, former Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a longtime Trump supporter, said on ABC that it was time for the president to stop contesting the outcome. Christie said Trump’s legal team was a “national embarrassment.”

Looking ahead to the Jan. 20 inauguration, Klain said it is “going to definitely have to be changed” due to the coronavirus pandemic, and that the Biden team is consulting with Democratic leadership in the House and Senate over their plans.

“They’re going to try to have an inauguration that honors the importance and the symbolic meaning of the moment, but also does not result in the spread of the disease. That’s our goal,” Klain said.

Inaugurations typically include a traditional parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, remarks by the president and vice president from the Capitol, a lunch with lawmakers in the Capitol rotunda and numerous balls across Washington. All are events attended by hundreds and sometimes hundreds of thousands of people who travel to the nation’s capital.

It’s unclear how public health concerns will affect those traditions.

During the campaign, Biden drew a contrast with Trump on the coronavirus by paring down his own events in response to the pandemic. Biden held smaller gatherings where people were asked to wear masks and adhere to social distancing recommendations from public health experts. Since he won the presidency, Biden has emphasized the importance of mask-wearing.

Source Link: https://www.timesofisrael.com/biden-tipped-to-name-antony-blinken-as-secretary-of-state/

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