Washington, United States, Nov 23 – US President-elect Joe Biden’s expected nomination of deeply experienced Antony Blinken for secretary of state highlights his message that a steady hand is back at the helm, in contrast to President Donald Trump’s ongoing but flailing attempts Monday to overturn the election.
Biden is set to announce his first cabinet picks on Tuesday and the names being floated signal the Democrat’s overriding desire to lower the temperature in Washington and restore traditional US leadership abroad.
Blinken, a former number two of the State Department and a longtime advisor to Biden, would spearhead a fast-paced dismantling of Trump’s disruptive “America first” policies, starting with rejoining the Paris climate agreement and the World Health Organization and resurrecting the Iran nuclear deal.
According to US media reports, the foreign policy nominations rollout is also set to include Jake Sullivan as national security adviser and career diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador.
Like Blinken, they are both strongly rooted in government service careers and served under president Barack Obama when Biden was vice president.
The picks underline an emphasis on professionals whom Biden already knows well, in contrast to the Trump White House where officials were often picked without having traditional background for the job or proved incompatible and departed in acrimony.
The expected announcements come against an unprecedented backdrop of Trump refusing for the third week to acknowledge his election defeat and blocking Biden’s access to the normal process for preparing an incoming government.
Biden is to be sworn in on January 20, but so far only a slowly growing minority of Republican leaders has denounced Trump’s conspiracy theory that mass fraud robbed him of victory, despite there being no evidence for this.
Many of Biden’s cabinet picks will require confirmation in the Senate, where Republicans hold a narrow majority, although this could change if Democrats score an upset victory in two Georgia Senate runoff elections.
– Dwindling options –
Trump remains defiant in spite of repeated failures by his legal team to prove their allegations in court.
The president, meanwhile, has largely halted at least his public work duties, while heading out to a golf course he owns in Virginia half a dozen times since the election.
On Monday, the White House once more announced that Trump had no public events scheduled.
He has also not taken questions from reporters since the election — a previously unimaginable silence from a president who for most of his time in office sparred near daily with the press.
His options, however, are dwindling rapidly.
With Biden having won a comfortable victory, Trump is seeking to disrupt the normally routine process of state-by-state certification of results, followed by the formal December 14 vote by the Electoral College.
His campaign’s latest focus is on seeking a two-week delay to certification of results in Michigan, which Biden won by 155,000 votes on November 3.
A Michigan state board was set to meet on the issue Monday.
Pennsylvania, another crucial state in Biden’s win, was expected to issue its certification after a federal judge threw out the latest baseless Trump challenge on Saturday.
More cracks appeared in the facade of Republican unity over the weekend with Trump confidant and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie calling the president’s legal team a “national embarrassment.”
Senator Patrick Toomey, from Pennsylvania, said after the court ruling there that Trump had “exhausted all plausible legal options.”
The latest to weigh in against Trump’s refusal to accept reality was big Wall Street backer Stephen Schwarzman, who heads the Blackstone private equity group and has close access to Trump.
“The country should move on,” he told Axios on Monday.
“The outcome is very certain today, and the country should move on,” Schwarzman said.
“Like many in the business community, I am ready to help President-elect Biden and his team as they confront the significant challenges of rebuilding our post-Covid economy.”