by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President-elect Joe Biden, with his first round of cabinet nominees and White House staff picks, has reassured his party’s moderate wing by drawing from the deep reservoir of Washington establishment types that he’s been surrounded by during his nearly five decades in government, rather than elevating more ideological upstarts.
Biden appears to be prioritizing time spent in government service in his choices for the executive branch’s most powerful positions, prompting critics on the Right and, to a lesser extent, the far-left to suggest they will be liable to repeat the mistakes of past Democratic administrations. The nominees so far include familiar names from the Obama administration, including a number of prominent figures close to Hillary Clinton, who likely would have been appointed to senior positions had she won in 2016.
John Kerry, former secretary of state and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, will serve as special presidential envoy for climate, Biden announced on Monday. Kerry’s post, the first of its kind, will be housed within the National Security Council and will primarily involve conducting environmental diplomacy of the sort that President Trump decisively abandoned by withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords.
Biden nominated Jake Sullivan, previously a close aide to Hillary Clinton, as national-security adviser. Sullivan was implicated in the Clinton private email-server scandal and endorsed the contents of the infamous Steele dossier, which served as the basis for the FISA warrant to surveil Trump campaign advisers and has since been largely debunked.
The former vice president has also named Obama administration and Biden campaign alumna Dana Remus as White House counsel, Jen O’Malley Dillon as White House deputy chief of staff, Mike Donilon and Steve Ricchetti as senior advisors to the president, Ron Klain as White House chief of staff, Avril Haines as director of national intelligence, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.