Update (1600ET): Hillary Clinton has spoken out to deliver a ringing endorsement to Biden's "national security" team.
The incoming administration could not have chosen better personnel for the foreign policy and national security teams.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 23, 2020
Tony Blinken is a dedicated public servant who will make an incredibly effective secretary of state.
Jake Sullivan is a brilliant policy mind who never forgets the overriding purpose of the job: to improve people's lives.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 23, 2020
I've had the pleasure of seeing Amb. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Avril Haines, and Alejandro Mayorkas in action and all are utter professionals.
And I'm thrilled that @JohnKerry, one of our country's foremost public servants, will serve as an official advisor on one of the greatest national security threats America faces: climate change.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 23, 2020
The architect of Obama's interventionist foreign policy approach has spoken: expect the Biden team to undo any last-minute Trump orders to lower American troop totals in the MENA region.
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Update (1310ET): Charles Gasparino, Fox Business's senior correspondent, has just reported that LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Democratic mayor of America's most infamously traffic-clogged metropolis, is the front-runner to serve as Biden's secretary of transportation, taking over from Elaine Chao, wife of Senate leader Mitch McConnell.
But even more interesting than Gaspo's tweet about Garcetti was his follow-up, where he reported that Yellen has leap-frogged Brainard and Roger Ferguson to become the front-runner to lead Biden's Treasury Department.
The logic makes sense: "Shes liked by banks, OK with progressives and easily confirmed. Plus we keep Lael at the Fed where she can replace Powell at some point".
BREAKING from top Wall Street @JoeBiden adviser on how Janet Yellen leapfrogged Lael Brainard, Roger Ferguson to likely run Biden's @USTreasury: "Shes liked by banks, OK with progressives and easily confirmed. Plus we keep Lael at the Fed where she can replace Powell at some pt."— Charles Gasparino (@CGasparino) November 23, 2020
To be sure, considering the source, investors should take this all with a grain of salt. Though it's certainly not much of a departure from what has already been reported.
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Joe Biden and his team have just confirmed a series of staff picks including some that were telegraphed ahead of time (John Kerry, the one-time Democratic presidential nominee back in 2004, to serve as Climate envoy) though none of the picks were really a surprise, as Biden has shown a preference for lobbyists and established Democratic players.
Another former Obama Administration player, Avril Haines, who notably served as the first female deputy Director of the CIA, and later as Obama's Deputy Director of National Intelligence, will serve as Biden's Director of National Intelligence. In that role, Haines will share responsibility for the president's daily intelligence briefings.
Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the US Department of State Linda Thomas-Greenfield, also a longtime Obama administration official, is likely to become the new US ambassador to the United Nations.
In another major "first", Alejandro Mayorkas will serve as the first latino Secretary of Homeland Security, after serving in a deputy role during the Obama Administration. Mayorkas isn't widely known to the public, but he did play a key role in one Obama-era scandal, when he was implicated for exerting "improper influence" over granting immigration benefits to politically connected individuals.
Perhaps the most high-profile choice might surprise many Americans: Antony Blinken, a top advisor who has advised Biden on foreign policy since 2002, will serve as Secretary of State (he also once served as a deputy secretary of state during the Obama-Biden days). Though Blinken was rumored to be a top contender, his is hardly a household name in the US. However,we have discussed 'deep state' Blinken in detail previously, and for those hoping for an end to endless wars, Blinken says not so fast:
"Large scale, open-ended deployment of large standing US forces in conflict zones with no clear strategy should end and will end under his watch…. But we also need to distinguish between, for example, these endless wars with the large scale open ended deployment of US forces with, for example, discreet, small-scale sustainable operations, maybe led by special forces, to support local actors… In ending the endless wars I think we have to be careful to not paint with too broad a brush stroke."
Additionally, while Blinken has been a critic of Trump’s tariffs on China and has previously stated that full decoupling from China is unrealistic, he has also made hawkish statements about the need for a more comprehensive US response to Beijing. Indeed, he has specifically spoken about the need to utilize the tool of the recent Hong Kong Autonomy Act (HKAA) to impose sanctions as needed.
Finally, Jake Sullivan, an established Democratic player and former chief of staff to Secretary of State Clinton, will serve as Biden's National Security Advisor.
All six of Biden’s national security picks held senior roles in the Obama administration,
The biggest unanswered question so far is whether Janet Yellen (former Fed chair) or Lael Brainard (a member of the Fed's board of governors) will be selected to serve as Secretary of the Treasury over Elizabeth Warren. Though, at this point, with the central bank pivoting toward pursuing racial and economic equality, whether the truly 'progressive' candidate gets in or not is almost a moot point.
Clearly, as Axios' Margaret Talev notes: The list is a deliberate effort to package nominees in a way that suggests diversity - a "first" for women and Latinos, a Black woman, and a white man.