Joe Biden, the US president-elect, has shown his determination to speed past Donald Trump’s flailing attempts to block the transition by naming leaders of his foreign policy and national security team.
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The president-elect put faith in experience on Monday by announcing Tony Blinken as secretary of state, Jake Sullivan as national security adviser and John Kerry as “climate tsar”, each signalling a return to the multilateralism of the Obama era.
Biden also picked Alejandro Mayorkas, who, if confirmed, would become the first Latino and migrant to be homeland security secretary; Avril Haines for director of national intelligence, who would be the first woman in that role; and Linda Thomas-Greenfield for ambassador to the United Nations.
“These individuals are equally as experienced and crisis-tested as they are innovative and imaginative,” Biden said. “Their accomplishments in diplomacy are unmatched, but they also reflect the idea that we cannot meet the profound challenges of this new moment with old thinking and unchanged habits – or without diversity of background and perspective.”
Biden was also set to make Janet Yellen – the first woman to chair the US Federal Reserve – the country’s first female treasury secretary. The 74-year-old economist is expected to be named as Biden’s choice on Tuesday.
In making his choices Biden looked to send an unequivocal message to a global audience that election wrangling is over and he will take office on 20 January. Trump has refused to concede defeat, spreading false claims of election fraud and suffering legal humiliations in what critics describe as a haplessly executed coup attempt.
The move also reflected Biden’s commitment to greater diversity and to choosing professionals from the foreign policy establishment in preference to business executives and politicians, a hallmark of the Trump administration.
Blinken was Biden’s national security adviser when Biden was vice-president, then deputy secretary of state for two years under Barack Obama. Sullivan was an adviser to Hillary Clinton, took part in talks with Iran before the 2015 nuclear deal, and succeeded Blinken as Biden’s national security adviser.
Kerry, named special presidential envoy for climate, is a former senator and Democratic presidential nominee who was Obama’s second secretary of state and a key architect of the Paris climate accord, which the US quit under Trump.
He tweeted: “America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is. I’m proud to partner with the president-elect, our allies, and the young leaders of the climate movement to take on this crisis as the president’s climate envoy.”
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