President-elect Joe Biden will reportedly nominate Antony Blinken for the coveted secretary of state post.
Blinken served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser under Obama. He also previously worked as then-Vice President Biden’s national security adviser.
Blinken is currently managing partner at WestExec Advisors, an advisory firm he co-founded.
His pick as secretary of state was first reported by Bloomberg News. A formal announcement of his nomination and other initial Biden administration Cabinet picks is expected Tuesday.
If confirmed, Blinken’s early work, according to The Associated Press, would be focused heavily on repairing relationships between Washington and foreign governments and allies that have been strained under President Trump’s “America First” policy, in which long-held alliances have frequently been challenged.
Blinken will also be tasked with boosting the beleaguered State Department, an agency that has experienced substantial turnover under Trump, with many longtime diplomats and career staffers leaving.
An Office of Inspector General (OIG) report from January found that, “Workforce management issues are pervasive, affecting programs and operations domestically and overseas and across functional areas and geographic regions.”
A hiring freeze ordered by Trump in 2017 and that lasted until 2018, compounded the agency’s ability to maintain staffing levels, the report went on to say.
“Employees told OIG that the hiring freeze contributed to excessive workloads, and the lack of transparency about the objectives intended to be achieved by the hiring freeze caused some to be concerned about losing their jobs,” the report said.
Susan Rice, the former national security adviser under Obama, was rumored to have been on the short list for the top State Department job. However, by choosing Blinken, Biden avoids what was likely to have been a Senate battle over her nomination.
Rice would have faced criticism over the handling of the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. Under pressure that year, Rice took herself out of consideration for the secretary of state’s job after Hillary Clinton resigned the post.
Biden was also rumored to be considering Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, but that choice would have put yet another Senate seat in contention just as Democrats are awaiting two runoff elections that will determine which party controls the chamber.
Blinken began his foreign policy career in the Clinton administration. From 2002-2008, he worked as the Democratic staff director for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
He is a graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School.
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