Biden push to restore U.S. global role starts with Blinken

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden attends briefing on national security in Wilmington, Delaware
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden receives a national security briefing in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 17, 2020.
REUTERS/Tom Brenner/File Photo

By Trevor Hunnicutt and Matt Spetalnick, Reuters

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday named the key members of his foreign policy team, tapping Antony Blinken as the next U.S. secretary of state, Jake Sullivan as national security adviser and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

Biden, a Democrat, also chose Alejandro Mayorkas to head the Department of Homeland Security and former Senator and onetime Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry to be a special presidential envoy for the climate.

In elevating Blinken, 58, Biden chose a seasoned and trusted aide who will shoulder much of the burden in helping to undo President Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy and rebuild U.S. alliances in Europe and other parts of the world.

Thomas-Greenfield held a senior diplomatic post in the Obama administration, while Sullivan was a deputy assistant to President Barack Obama and senior policy adviser to 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Mayorkas is a Cuban-American lawyer who served as a Homeland Security deputy secretary in the Obama administration.

Biden, working in his home state of Delaware, has pushed ahead with his transition plans despite the lack of cooperation from the current administration.

Trump, a Republican, lost the Nov. 3 vote, but he has refused to concede defeat and is waging a legal battle to overturn the results and prevent Biden from being sworn in on Jan. 20.


Klain said there would be “scaled-down versions of the existing traditions” for Biden’s inauguration. Inauguration ceremonies and related events typically draw huge crowds to Washington. COVID-19 cases and deaths are surging in many parts of the country amid a pandemic that has killed more than 256,000 people in the United States.

Critics of Trump, including Democrats and some Republicans, have accused him of trying to undermine faith in the American electoral system and delegitimize Biden’s victory by promoting false claims of widespread voter fraud.

Attempts to thwart certification of vote tallies have failed thus far in courts in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Arizona. U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann, in dismissing the Pennsylvania lawsuit on Saturday, compared the Trump team’s arguments claiming voter fraud to a “Frankenstein’s Monster” that was “haphazardly stitched together” using meritless legal arguments and speculative accusations.

Trump’s campaign issued a statement on Sunday distancing itself from Sidney Powell, a lawyer who made baseless allegations of a vast vote-rigging conspiracy at a campaign news conference on Thursday.

“Sidney Powell is practicing law on her own,” Trump campaign lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis said in the statement. “She is not a member of the Trump Legal Team. She is also not a lawyer for the President in his personal capacity.”

Both Giuliani and Ellis attended the Thursday news conference alongside Powell. Powell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump’s campaign also said it was appealing Brann’s decision to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Pennsylvania is expected to send its county results to its top election official for certification on Monday.

Trump’s campaign has filed a petition for another recount in Georgia. A previous laborious hand recount reaffirmed Biden’s victory by a margin of more than 12,000 votes in the southern state, a longtime Republican bastion in presidential elections.

Some of Trump’s fellow Republicans are now breaking ranks, although many, including the most senior ones in Congress, have not.

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski tweeted on Sunday that “it is time to begin the full and formal transition process,” noting the courts had thus far found Trump’s legal claims without merit and that the pressure campaign on state legislators “is not only unprecedented but inconsistent with our democratic process.”