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Biden push to restore U.S. global role starts with Blinken

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President-elect Joe Biden is moving forward on his campaign pledge to restore America as a leader on the global stage and lean on experts, tapping veteran diplomats for key posts even as President Donald Trump continues to refuse to concede.

Biden will name Antony Blinken as secretary of state and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as ambassador to the U.N., bringing deep foreign-policy backgrounds to the nascent administration while providing a sharp contrast with Trump, who distrusted such experience and embraced an “America First” policy that strained longstanding U.S. relationships.

Blinken could be named as early as Tuesday, according to sources close to Biden, while Axios first reported Thomas-Greenfield’s impending nomination.

Blinken’s appointment made another longtime Biden aide and foreign policy veteran, Jake Sullivan, the top candidate to be U.S. national security adviser, a source said.

During the campaign, Biden severely criticized Trump’s go-it-alone foreign policy and pledged to recommit to NATO and other global pacts, while promising to tap experts to fight the COVID crisis and other problems at home. He has promised to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and the World Health Organization and potentially the Iran nuclear deal.

“America First has made America alone,” Biden said in a town-hall meeting in October.

Blinken is a longtime Biden confidant who served as No. 2 at the State Department and as deputy national security adviser in President Barack Obama’s administration, in which Biden served as vice president.

Thomas-Greenfield, a Black woman who served as the assistant secretary of state for Africa under Obama, was intended to restore morale and help fulfill Biden’s pledge to choose a diverse cabinet, Axios reported.

Sullivan served as Biden’s national security adviser during the Obama administration and also as deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Ron Klain, Biden’s choice as White House chief of staff, told ABC’S “This Week” that the first Biden cabinet picks would come on Tuesday.

Biden said last week he had settled on a treasury secretary. Former Fed Chair Janet Yellen is believed to be the top candidate in Democratic and monetary policy circles.

A spokesman for Biden’s transition team declined to comment.

Klain again urged that the Trump administration – specifically a federal agency called the General Services Administration (GSA) – formally recognize Biden’s victory in order to unlock resources for the transition process.

Biden is due to take office on Jan. 20.

“A record number of Americans rejected the Trump presidency, and since then Donald Trump’s been rejecting democracy,” Klain told “This Week.”

Since Biden, a Democrat, was declared the winner of the Nov. 3 election two weeks ago, the Republican president has launched a barrage of lawsuits and mounted a pressure campaign to try to prevent state officials from certifying their vote totals, suffering another emphatic legal setback on Saturday in Pennsylvania.

Biden received 6 million more votes nationwide than Trump and prevailed 306-232 in the state-by-state Electoral College system that determines the election’s victor.

Klain said there would be “scaled-down versions of the existing traditions” for Biden’s inauguration. Inauguration ceremonies and related events typically draw huge crowds to Washington. COVID-19 cases and deaths are surging in many parts of the country amid a pandemic that has killed more than 256,000 people in the United States.

Critics of Trump, including Democrats and some Republicans, have accused him of trying to undermine faith in the American electoral system and delegitimize Biden’s victory by promoting false claims of widespread voter fraud.

Photo: A file photo of former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State of United States, Antony Blinken during the opening of the V High Level Dialogues Colombia- United States, in Bogota, Colombia, on the 27 April 2015. EPA/Leonardo Muñoz

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