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Joe Biden introduces new members of national security, foreign policy teams

Historic firsts among Biden's Cabinet picks
Historic firsts among Biden's Cabinet picks 02:12

Washington — President-elect Joe Biden formally announced Tuesday new members of his national security and foreign policy teams, several of whom are poised to make history if their nominations are approved by the Senate.

"America is back. Ready to lead the world, not retreat from it," Mr. Biden said in his remarks, signaling that his administration would mark a return to traditional diplomacy. He said that the foreign leaders he have spoken to have expressed that they are "looking forward to the United States reasserting its historic role as a global leader."

Mr. Biden's transition team revealed the nominees and appointees to national security and foreign policy posts on Monday, including secretary of state, homeland security secretary, director of national intelligence, ambassador to the United Nations, national security adviser and a special presidential envoy for climate. Mr. Biden praised his nominees, highlighting their professional experience and personal backgrounds.

"I'm proud to put forward this incredible team that will lead by example," Mr. Biden said. He added that "this team will make us proud to be Americans."

The president-elect announced:

  • Antony Blinken for Secretary of State
  • Alejandro Mayorkas for Secretary of Homeland Security 
  • Avril Haines for Director of National Intelligence 
  • Linda Thomas-Greenfield for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations 
  • Jake Sullivan as National Security Adviser
  • John Kerry as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate 
President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of State Tony Blinken speaks at The Queen theater, on Tuesday, November 24, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. Carolyn Kaster / AP

If confirmed by the Senate, Haines will be the first woman to serve as director of national intelligence, while Mayorkas would be the first immigrant and Latino secretary in the Department of Homeland Security's history. Mr. Biden said Blinken would "build morale and trust in the State Department," and said he was "proud" to nominate Mayorkas as the first "immigrant, a Latino, who knows that we are a nation of laws and values." He noted that Thomas-Greenfield, a Black woman, had grown up in segregated Louisiana and was the first in her family to graduate from high school and college.

Mr. Biden's remarks tacitly contrasted his experienced nominees to President Trump's cabinet picks, many of whom lacked experience. His incoming cabinet will also be far more diverse than Mr. Trump's, which was dominated by White men. With his nominees, Mr. Biden also made clear that he sees the pandemic and climate change as national security issues. The president-elect noted that for the first time ever, "there will be a principal at the National Security Council who can came sure climate change is on the agenda in the situation room."

"The world will know that when one of my closest friends, John Kerry, he's speaking for America on one of the most pressing threats of our time," Mr. Biden said. In brief remarks after Mr. Biden spoke, Kerry said the Biden administration would remain focused on protecting "God's creation."

"President Joe Biden will trust in God — and he will also trust in science to guide our work on Earth to protect God's creation," Kerry said.

President-elect Joe Biden's Homeland Security Secretary nominee Alejandro Mayorkas speaks at The Queen theater, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. Carolyn Kaster / AP

He also implored the currently Republican-controlled Senate to treat his nominees with respect, and encouraged them to reach across the aisle and work with the Democrats in the White House.

"I hope these outstanding nominees receive a prompt hearing," Mr. Biden said.

Each of Mr. Biden's nominees briefly spoke, thanking their families and mentors and pledging that they would work to serve Americans.

"America is back, multilateralism is back, diplomacy is back," Thomas-Greenfield said.

President-elect Joe Biden's U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations nominee Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks at The Queen theater, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. Carolyn Kaster / AP

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris praised the nominees as "patriots and public servants to their core." She also noted the significance of nominating such a diverse cabinet.

"When Joe asked me to be his running mate, he told me about his commitment to making sure we selected a cabinet that looks like America," Harris said.

Mr. Biden's announcement comes after the General Services Administration — three weeks after Election Day — sent a letter to the president-elect Monday ascertaining him and Harris as the apparent winners of the election, allowing the formal transition process to begin. The letter from GSA Administrator Emily Murphy unlocks access to $6.3 million in federal funding, office space and government agencies.

Murphy said in the letter she made her determination because of "recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results." Michigan certified the results of its election Monday, and Pennsylvania did so Tuesday. President Trump's campaign mounted several unsuccessful legal battles in an attempt to block certification of the results in Pennsylvania. 

Biden introduces his national security team 38:11
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