Joe Biden announces national security line-up as he ramps up transition into the White House

John Dunne
·2-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

President-elect Joe Biden unveiled his national security team as he declared: “America is back, ready to lead the world."

Mr Biden announced a number of foreign policy veterans from the Democratic party for senior roles.

It indicated how he will shift from the Trump administration’s “America First” policies.

Mr Biden’s Washington veterans all have ties to former president Barack Obama’s administration as the president-elect has sought to deliver a clear message about his desire to re-establish a more predictable engagement from the United States on the global stage.

“It’s a team that reflects the fact that America is back, ready to lead the world, not retreat from it,” said Mr Biden, at an introductory event at which his selections stood on stage, at least six feet apart and masked.

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.

He last year described Brexit as a "total mess" and said that the process resembled a dog being run over by a car, in comments that underline policy differences between the incoming White House administration and the UK government.

Lawyer Alejandro Mayorkas is Biden’s choice 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 return to front line politics as a special envoy on climate change.

Mr Kerry and Mr Sullivan’s position will not require Senate confirmation.

Mr 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."

It comes as there were signs that the stalled formal transition of power is now under way. The move came a day after the head of the General Services Administration wrote the necessary letter of “ascertainment” acknowledging Mr Biden as the apparent winner of election, triggering the transition process.

Afterwards president Donald Trump accepted that a formal transition can begin for Joe Biden to take office.

The ascertainment gives the incoming president and his team access to officials at federal agencies and directs the justice department to work on security clearances for transition team members and Biden political appointees.