Joe Biden is starting now to build his team, without waiting for Donald Trump to admit his defeat in the presidential election. The Democrat, who promised a “government that represents America”, has indeed embarked on the composition of a mixed and feminized team. The former vice president, who will take office on January 20, has chosen veteran Democrat Ron Klain to be his White House chief of staff and has appointed several of his future advisers.
The composition of his government will be more delicate. His ministers will have to be confirmed in the Senate, the majority of which will remain Republican, unless the Democrats manage to win two by-elections in January 2021. In the meantime, here are the names circulating:
Former Ambassador to the UN and former National Security Advisor under President Barack Obama, Susan Rice could quickly slip into the clothes of Secretary of State. Renowned offensive, this 56-year-old African-American also has very good relations with Joe Biden. But she was never elected and was spattered by controversy over the 2012 attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, which could complicate her confirmation.
Senator Chris Coons, a close friend of the President-elect, 57, is a more consensual candidate. A member of the influential Foreign Affairs Committee, he regularly cooperates with his Republican colleagues. Senator Chris Murphy, closer to the left wing of the Democratic Party, and diplomat William Burns, number two in the State Department under Barack Obama, are also expected.
One of the officials of the American Central Bank, Lael Brainard, 58, is best placed to become secretary of the Treasury, financial sources close to Joe Biden told Agence France-Presse. The only democrat among the governors of this institution, she distinguished herself by opposing deregulation in the banking sector and by insisting on the fight against climate change.
Joe Biden, who, true to his image of “unifier”, would like to name one or two Republicans in his team, also seems to be interested in Meg Whitman, a business owner who was the Republican candidate for the post of governor of California in 2010. Co-chair of an investment fund, Mellody Hobson, one of the most influential black women on Wall Street, could benefit from the wish of African-American elected officials to see a person of color hold the purse strings of the states -United. Also in the race, the former president of the American Federal Reserve Janet Yellen or the African-American Roger Ferguson, long at the head of one of the largest American pension funds.
Michèle Flournoy, former Minister of Defense under President Barack Obama, is one step ahead of her competitors. With a long experience in the Pentagon, the 59-year-old woman is respected beyond the ranks of Democrats and could easily be confirmed in the Senate. If so, she would become the first woman to head a ministry whose orders have always been in the hands of white men (like the Treasury).
The names of Senator Tammy Duckworth, a former serviceman of Asian origin who lost both legs in Iraq, and her colleague Jack Reed, a member of the Armed Forces Committee, are also circulating for the post.
Doug Jones, 66, has just failed to keep his post as senator from Alabama, snatched in 2018 from a rival mired in a sexual abuse scandal, but seems well placed to become “Attorney General” of the United States . A former federal prosecutor, in 2002 he led the prosecution of former members of the Ku Klux Klan, responsible for the deadly attack on a black church in Birmingham in 1963.
Former Justice Department Sally Yates, 60, is also in the running. Remained in office at the start of Donald Trump’s presidency, she was sacked after her refusal to support a controversial migration decree. A Democratic Party official, Tom Perez, another former Obama administration, is also expected.
Could Joe Biden’s former contenders in the Democratic primary enter his government? The president-elect on a moderate line does not appear to be considering nominating progressives Bernie Sanders, who makes no secret of his interest in the Department of Labor, or Elizabeth Warren. But Pete Buttigieg, 38, former mayor of South Bend and assumed homosexual, could be appointed Minister of Veterans Affairs or ambassador to the UN, which could serve as a springboard for the rest of his career.