U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is reported to have selected one of his closest foreign affairs advisers, Antony Blinken, to be secretary of state in his new administration, as the projected winner of the U.S. election appears set to re-engage the United States in an array of global alliances that President Donald Trump had abandoned.
The 58-year-old Blinken is a veteran of U.S. foreign affairs decision-making for two decades, and according to multiple news accounts, agrees with Biden on the need for the U.S. to play a leading role again in world affairs, a change from Trump’s “America First” credo that at times left the United States at odds with other long-time Western allies.
In his first days in office after the January 20 inauguration, Biden plans to overturn Trump policies and rejoin the Paris climate agreement, stop the U.S. exit from the World Health Organization and attempt to again join other nations in the international pact to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons development.
Blinken served first under former President Bill Clinton, then later as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser under former Democratic President Barack Obama when Biden was vice president. And while Republican former President George W, Bush was in power, Blinken was the Democratic staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
In addition to Blinken’s nomination, which must be approved by the Senate, Biden transition officials told news media that the incoming U.S. leader plans to name two other foreign policy veterans to key positions -- Jake Sullivan as national security adviser and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as his nominee to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Sullivan is another Biden foreign policy adviser. Thomas-Greenfield, an African American, is a former career Foreign Service officer and would hold one of the most high-profile diplomatic posts in the new administration.
Biden is expected to officially make the three appointments on Tuesday and could also announce other Cabinet-level nominations even as Trump continues to contest Biden’s election as the country’s 46th chief executive.
Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Monday are meeting virtually from Wilmington, Delaware, with the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The non-partisan organization includes the mayors of more than 1,400 cities, each with a population of 30,000 or more.
The conference has pushed for more federal aid to state and local governments as the number of coronavirus cases surges in the U.S. But negotiations for more relief have stalled between Congress and the White House. Biden has called for a new aid deal before he takes office but prospects for its passage by the end of December are uncertain.
Trump insists he won election
Trump is continuing to claim he won the election despite Biden’s unofficial 306-232 majority vote in the Electoral College. The electoral vote determines U.S. presidential elections, not the national popular vote, although Biden leads there, too, by more than 6 million votes.
Trump’s legal fight against the election results has been fruitless so far, with his campaign losing or withdrawing 34 lawsuits claiming vote and vote-counting fraud in key battleground states Biden was projected to win to claim a four-year term in the White House.
Trump is pursuing other lawsuits and appeals of decisions he has lost, attempting to upend Biden’s win.
Trump’s legal team filed an appeal Sunday after its latest courtroom defeat late Saturday in Pennsylvania, whose 20 electoral votes Biden won by an 81,000-vote margin.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann declared that the Trump campaign had presented “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations” in its effort to throw out millions of votes in Pennsylvania and hand the state’s electoral votes to Trump.
“In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state,” Brann wrote.
After a hand recount of 5 million votes, the southern state of Georgia on Friday certified Biden’s victory there, while Pennsylvania and the midwestern state of Michigan could do the same on Monday. The Trump campaign has since requested another recount of the votes in Georgia.
Despite his legal setbacks, Trump has refused to authorize his administration to cooperate with Biden on his transition to office.
On Sunday, Biden’s incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain rebuked Emily Murphy, the Trump-appointed head of the General Services Administration, for so far refusing to ascertain that Biden is the apparent election winner so that federal funding can be made available for the transfer in control of the government and Biden aides can talk with officials at numerous agencies.
"I hope that the administrator of the GSA will do her job," Klain said on ABC’s “This Week,” referring to Murphy.