Selasa, 24 November 2020

Drama inside US presidential transition as Joe Biden loyalists complain they’re being overlooked -

Yesterday brought some welcome, belated news for Joe Biden, with America’s General Services Administration finally acknowledging him as president-elect and allowing the transition process to formally begin.

The move means funds for the transition will be released, and Mr Biden’s staff can at last start talking to their counterparts in the Trump administration to ensure as smooth a handover of power as possible on January 20.

But this is not the end of the drama. President Donald Trump still hasn’t conceded defeat, his legal team maintains he actually won the election in a “landslide”, and there are now grumbles of dissatisfaction within Mr Biden’s own camp.

“People are pissed,” a senior Biden official told Politico, summing up the mood among the president-elect’s long-term staff.

At issue is the string of appointments Mr Biden has announced this past week, revealing who will serve in the most senior roles of his administration.

RELATED: The people who will run Biden’s administration

Few of the appointees so far have been household names.

Mr Biden’s secretary of state, assuming he’s confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate, will be Antony Blinken, who served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration.

Mr Blinken is one of Mr Biden’s longtime advisers on foreign policy, though he has a lower profile than several of the most recent secretaries of state.

Mike Pompeo, who is currently in the role, is a former CIA director and congressman. His predecessor Rex Tillerson was a well known oil industry CEO. Barack Obama gave the job to Senator John Kerry, a former presidential nominee, and then-senator Hillary Clinton, who was a former first lady and, of course, a future presidential nominee.

Mr Biden intends to nominate Janet Yellen, former chair of the Federal Reserve, to be the first female treasury secretary in US history.

Ms Yellen is another Obama alumni, having been appointed to head America’s equivalent of the Reserve Bank under his presidency in 2014.

Avril Haines will be the first female director of national intelligence, and Cuban-born Alejandro Mayorkas will head up the Department of Homeland Security.

Mr Kerry also features in the line-up, in the newly created role of climate envoy for national security. He is the most famous face so far, albeit in a niche job.

Then there are the White House staff appointments.

Ron Klain, who has previously been chief of staff to two vice presidents – Al Gore and Mr Biden – will take the top job as White House chief of staff.

Jen O’Malley Dillon, who became Mr Biden’s campaign manager in April, will be Mr Klain’s deputy. Her previous work includes a stint as Mr Obama’s deputy campaign manager in 2012.

Other appointees include Louisa Terrell, who was special assistant for legislative affairs under Mr Obama and will become director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, and Cathy Russell, another former Obama administration member who will direct the Office of Presidential Personnel.

None of these choices are, in themselves, remotely controversial. But taken together, there is a distinct trend – most of Mr Biden’s picks also served under Mr Obama.

According to Politico, that has rubbed some of the president-elect’s staff the wrong way. Reporter Ryan Lizza describes the mood as “concern bordering on panic”.

RELATED: Biden smashes another Obama record

“The Obama staffers are now cutting out the people who got Biden elected,” the senior Biden official we mentioned earlier told Lizza.

“None of these people found the courage to help the vice president when he was running, and now they are elevating their friends over the Biden people. It’s f***ed up.”

Another Biden adviser said that was a “valid criticism”, and many of Mr Biden’s long-term staff were now “living in uncertainty”, unsure whether there will be a role for them.

“There’s real doubt about whether they will be taken care of,” the adviser said.

There are internal divisions within every presidential campaign. In Mr Biden’s case, that divide reportedly falls between staff who were with the president-elect during the primaries, and those who joined after he became the Democratic Party’s nominee.

Ms O’Malley Dillon is the focus of some of this ire. She originally served as campaign manager for one of Mr Biden’s rivals, Beto O’Rourke, and only joined the Biden campaign once he had vanquished chief rival Bernie Sanders.

That fight in the primaries was hard-fought, and for a perilous stretch of the campaign, Mr Biden was in serious trouble.

He came fourth in the first state to vote, Iowa, and fifth in New Hampshire, before winning South Carolina and finally consolidating support from the party’s moderate wing.

RELATED: Incredible 72 hours that changed Biden’s campaign

“People who were not part of winning the hard-fought primary were placed before people who were part of that,” the disgruntled adviser told Lizza.

“If you noticed, Jen’s people are being taken care of.”

As one headache recedes, with Mr Trump no longer standing in the way of the transition, another may be building for Mr Biden.

Some people are inevitably going to be disappointed.

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2020-11-24 16:02:51Z

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