Thursday November 12, 2020
Joe Biden stayed two and a half months to put together his government team. Ignoring the interference from the Oval Office, he directs his gaze into the future with an important personnel decision.
Despite opposition from incumbent Donald Trump, US President-elect Joe Biden is pushing the composition of his government team. Biden’s longtime confidante Ronald Klain is to become Chief of Staff in the White House and thus one of his most important political advisors, Biden’s transition team announced in the evening. In the evening, Biden also held talks with the heads of state and government of Japan, Australia and South Korea, who congratulated him on his election victory.
Biden and Klain have already worked together in the White House when Biden was Vice President under Barack Obama: Klain, now 59, was Biden’s Chief of Staff between 2009 and 2011. He also worked for the Democrat when he was in the US Senate and when Biden ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 and 2008. “Ron has been invaluable to me over the many years we’ve worked together,” said Biden. “His deep, diverse experience and ability to work with people from across the political spectrum is exactly what I need from a Chief of Staff in the White House as we face this moment of crisis and bring the country back together.”
Unlike ministers, for example, the chief of staff does not have to be confirmed by the Senate. Obama made Klain the coordinator of US government action on the Ebola epidemic in 2014. During the corona pandemic, Klain stood out as a critic of Trump’s crisis management. A video in which he explains what a Biden government would have done differently in the pandemic and wants to do in the future attracted a lot of attention. Biden has promised to make fighting the coronavirus pandemic a priority.
Sanders toying with the Department of Labor
Personnel was received positively in the ranks of the Democrats. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a congresswoman who is considered the leading figure of the left wing of the Democrats, wrote on Twitter: “Good news and a promising election.” Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote that Klain was trusted throughout the party. He understood the extent of the pandemic and economic crisis and had the experience to guide the future government through these crises.
The chief of staff holds the most important, unelected position in the US government. He is part of the cabinet but, unlike a minister, does not have to be confirmed by the Senate. The Chief of Staff supports the President in his daily work: He controls who has access to the President, manages his appointment calendar and regulates the flow of information. Negotiations with the Congress also fall within its remit. Trump has changed his chief of staff several times – Mark Meadows is the fourth in the office.
The left Senator Bernie Sanders meanwhile positioned himself for the Labor Department. “If I had a department that would allow me to stand up for working class families and fight, would I do it? Yes, I would,” Sanders told CNN when asked if he would accept the job of labor minister if there would be a corresponding offer. The 79-year-old had run like Biden for the presidential candidacy of the Democrats.
Trump continues to block
Meanwhile, there are still no signs that Trump would admit defeat. In several tweets on Wednesday, he made it clear that he continues to see himself as the legitimate winner of the election. For example, Trump claimed that election observers were not allowed in his service in Pennsylvania and Michigan and that this resulted in hundreds of thousands of votes being counted that should not have been counted. There is no evidence for Trump’s claims. Twitter provided the message with a warning.
Newly elected presidents use the two and a half months between election and inauguration to put together their government team. It is not only about the cabinet, state secretaries and heads of authorities, but also about filling thousands of posts in the White House, in ministries and in authorities. Around 1200 of the personal details must be approved by the Senate. Trump’s government has refused to provide Biden with the legally required assistance in preparing for his presidency.
US media had reported that Biden’s transition team believes legal action is a way to break the blockade. There are also other options, it said without giving any further details. Biden was stressedly relaxed on Tuesday: There is nothing that is currently slowing down his team, he said. At the moment, he also sees no need for legal action.
Even more than a week after the election, there is still movement in the vote count, which has not yet been completed. According to preliminary results, Biden was elected by more than 77.4 million Americans, about 5.2 million more votes than incumbent Trump. Because of the extremely close race in Georgia, the state has all votes cast in the election again counted by hand. State Secretary in charge, Brad Raffensperger, said he expected the recount to confirm the current result. Biden is ahead of Trump there, but the result in Georgia alone is not decisive for his election victory.