US NEWS

Who are Joe Biden's cabinet picks so far?

Joe Biden has confirmed several important picks for his new cabinet, which is set to be the most diverse in US history. Here is the rundown of the cabinet members chosen so far.

Who are Joe Biden's cabinet picks for the White House so far?
JOSHUA ROBERTS REUTERS

After Donald Trump finally and somewhat reluctantly instructed his administration to begin cooperating with Joe Biden’s transition team, the President-elect confirmed some of the key appointments that will make up his new cabinet.

Trump continues to make baseless claims that the election was rigged but on Thursday came his closest to conceding defeat when he admitted he would leave the White House if the electoral college certifies Biden as the winner in December.

“Certainly I will. And you know that," Trump told reporters when asked if he would leave the White House if the college vote went against him, adding: “If they do, they’ve made a mistake.”

With Trump stating he will accept defeat following several failed legal challenges and other attempts to overturn the election results, Joe Biden can now firmly focus on the job of putting a team together to deal with the monumental challenges facing his administration come January – number one of which, of course, is the coronavirus pandemic.

This week the Democratic president-elect confirmed several important picks for his new cabinet, which is set to be the most diverse in US history. Biden gave an indication that his cabinet would be characterized by diversity when he named California lawmaker Kamala Harris as his running mate and vice-presidential nominee back in August. Harris, daughter of an Indian immigrant mother and Jamaican-American father, will become the first women of color to hold the office of vice-president.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks after U.S. President-elect Joe Biden announced his national security nominees and appointees at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 24, 2020.

But Harris will not be the only “first” when the administration takes office in January. Biden has also named the first female director of national intelligence, the first Latino emigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security and the first woman to head up the treasury.

“While this team has unmatched experience and accomplishments, they also reflect the idea that we cannot meet these challenges with old thinking and unchanged habits,” said the president elect upon confirming the cabinet appointments earlier this week.

Joe Biden’s cabinet appointments so far

Anthony Blinken – Secretary of State

Dubbed a Europeanist, multilateralist and internationalist, Blinken spent part of his childhood in Paris and is a fluent French speaker. Blinken spent a six-year term in the Senate as one of Biden’s top aides and was a member of Bill Clinton’s White House staff in the 1990s. A firm believer in in the transatlantic alliance, Blinken sees US engagement with the rest of the world, and Europe in particular, as crucial, and has expressed his staunch objections to Brexit. His appointment will represent a marked shift away from the ‘America First’ policies followed by current Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

Anthony Blinken, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for secretary of state, speaks as President-elect Biden announces his national security nominees and appointees at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 24, 2020.

Alejandro Mayorkas – Secretary of Homeland Security

Cuban-American lawyer Alejandro Mayorkas will be the first Latino and the first immigrant to become secretary of Homeland Security, taking up the post after having previously served as the deputy secretary of homeland security under Obama for almost three years.

Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's nominee to be director of Homeland Security, speaks as President-elect Biden announces his national security nominees and appointees at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 24, 2020.

Janet Yellen – Treasury Secretary

Having been the first woman to head up the US Federal Reserve, the 74-year-old economist will now become the country’s first female treasury secretary. Yellen – a professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley, a former assistant professor at Harvard and a lecturer at the London School of Economics – will play a pivotal role in Biden’s efforts to revive a US economy that has been left battered by the coronavirus crisis.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen speaks during a panel discussion at the American Economic Association/Allied Social Science Association (ASSA) 2019 meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., January 4, 2019.

Avril Haines – Director of National Intelligence

As the nation’s first female director of national intelligence, Avril Haines will oversee the National Intelligence Program, the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council. The New York-born lawyer has previously served as deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency and was also the first female deputy national security adviser.

She is held in high regard by many in the intelligence community, including former CIA Director John Brennan, who told NPR: "[Haines] is widely respected among intelligence professionals, and her superior intellect, humility and legendary work ethic are deeply admired by the thousands of intelligence officers with whom she worked during the Obama Administration.”

Avril Haines, United States Director of National Intelligence-designate makes remarks at the event where US President-elect Joe Biden announced his nominees.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield – US Ambassador to the United Nations

Linda Thomas-Greenfield has worked under both the Obama and Trump administrations as assistant secretary of state for African affairs. She was also US ambassador to Liberia under George W Bush and Obama. "Just having a Black woman heading the transition and likely heading the US mission in New York is a big deal," one senior diplomat told CNN. "And to have it be a Black woman who was fired by Trump, that's even more of a statement.”

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's choice to become the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, speaks as President-elect Biden announces his national security nominees and appointees at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 24, 2020.

John Kerry – Special Presidential Envoy for Climate

The former presidential nominee who lost the 2004 election to George Bush is perhaps the most widely recognized face on Biden’s cabinet. The former Secretary of State will head up the Biden administration’s efforts to fight climate change – an issue that has taken a back seat under Donald Trump. One of Kerry’s first jobs will be overseeing the US realignment with the UN’s Paris Climate Accord after Trump pulled out of the historic agreement last year.

Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at an event of the "World War Zero" climate coalition during the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain December 11, 2019.

Jake Sullivan – National Security Adviser

Sullivan was the national security adviser to Biden when he was vice-president under Obama and served as deputy chief of staff to Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state. Upon his appointment, the 43-year-old Yale law school professor noted that he has "tasked us with reimagining our national security" to deal with the nation's current crises.

Ron Klain – White House Chief of Staff

Klain joined Biden’s presidential campaign this year as a senior advisor. Klain also worked on Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns and served as Al Gore’s chief of staff for three years and chief of staff to Biden when he was vice-president under the Obama administration. Klain is seen as one of Biden's most trusted campaign advisers.

Upon confirmation of his appointment, Klain said: "I look forward to helping ... the Vice President-elect assemble a talented and diverse team to work in the White House, as we tackle their ambitious agenda for change, and seek to heal the divides in our country."